NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Hornets owner Tom Benson is changing his team’s nickname to the Pelicans and said the switch will create a bond with the city that could lead to a championship.
The NBA still has to approve it, but commissioner David Stern has said he wouldn’t object to any name Benson chose. The league is expected to expedite the change so it is in place for next season.
The new color scheme will be blue, gold and red, a departure from the Hornets’ teal, purple, gold and white.
The Hornets moved from Charlotte for the 2002-03 season. The nickname Hornets “didn’t mean anything to this community,” Benson said. “The pelican represents New Orleans, just like the (NFL’s) Saints. They have incredible resolve. If they can do that, the team can do the same.”
The brown pelican is Louisiana’s state bird.
The Pelicans were a minor league baseball team that played in New Orleans for more than 70 years.
The Hornets name in the NBA may not be done, however.
There is a campaign in Charlotte to “bring back the buzz” to North Carolina. The Charlotte Bobcats are doing market research to find out if a name change would be worthwhile.