Credit the New Orleans Pelicans for devising a clever way to rid themselves of what many perceive to be a terrible mascot problem. Even if just about everybody paying attention saw right through their ruse to completely re-design the terrifying Pierre the Pelican mascot in the days leading up to New Orleans’ hosting of the 2014 NBA All-Star weekend.
Pierre debuted earlier this season, New Orleans’ first as the “Pelicans,” to much derision and possibly a few weeping children. Memes and .gifs abounded as Pierre took to terrorizing both fans and foe alike with his fiendish beak and 1970s-styled cartoonish dead eyes. Twitter was non-stop in its glee at the frightening mascot, the Comedy Central show ‘@Midnight’ hilariously took down NOLA’s brand of nightmare fuel more than a few times, and the joke never really seemed to get old.
Earlier in the calendar year, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reported that the Pelicans were thinking of restructuring the mascot, so as to not scare the living daylights out of a nationally televised audience during the All-Star break. Early Monday evening, the Pelicans set up the ruse of a freakish beak injury during a pickup game featuring other NBA mascots, which would allow for needed cosmetic surgery, and a rebranding of the Pierre we once knew. And feared.
From a press release:
The injury occurred late in the pickup game as Pierre drove to the basket and was fouled by Grizz on the play. He sustained a broken beak after running into the padded stanchion on the goal.
Later today, Pierre will have surgery at Ochsner Medical Center to reconstruct the broken beak. Pelicans Team Physician Dr. Mathew McQueen will perform the surgery.
“This will be a rather unconventional surgery for us. I am not sure we have something to compare this to,” said McQueen. “It will be quite complicated and will require the use of some unconventional tools and instruments to reconstruct his beak.”
In order to ensure that Pierre receives the best care from the most experienced professionals, Carolyn Atherton, Curator of Birds for the Audubon Zoo, teamed up with McQueen to develop the best plan of treatment.
“We do see a lot of head trauma cases with pelicans. Since they are the plunge-divers, sometimes they’ll hit sharp objects and a lot of times, they’ll have tears in their pouch or even eye problems,” she said. “We’ve had quite a few pelicans we’ve treated for injuries similar to Pierre’s. After they’ve been treated, they’ve all come back looking bigger, stronger, faster and ready to take on the world.”
So, yes, this is the Pelicans’ way of basically turning a “needed” Hollywood-styled deviated septum surgery into a chance for a cosmetic makeover. The problem with this, of course, is that we liked Jennifer Grey before she got her nose done.
And we’re probably going to like the old Pierre much more than the new one. Even if we only knew him for a few months.
Guys, mascots are supposed to be interesting. Frightening the young and old alike isn’t exactly a prerequisite, but it’s nice to stick out. And in an opening year for the Pelicans that has seen injury and underachievement lead to a disappointing year for New Orleans, one that figures to get worse with no first round draft pick and the continued presence of undesirable contracts, the Pelicans should attempt to take all they can get. They should have dealt with all the “world’s scariest mascot” jokes throughout the All-Star weekend, and enjoyed all the fun that came with it. There’s no crime in being unique.
There’s no crime in being frightfully scary, either. Though the old Pierre came close. RIP, you freakish ghoul of a mascot.
(Unless we can still save him. Put the scalpel down, doctor.)
UPDATE: Pierre appears to be recovering well. From a press release:
Team Physician Dr. Matthew McQueen performed the reconstructive surgery at Ochsner Medical Center and has indicated the procedure was quite involved. “Injuries like this also affect other aspects of the skull, which had to be addressed.” McQueen and his team of experts, including Curator of Birds for Audubon Zoo Carolyn Atherton, expect Pierre to make a full and speedy recovery.
“Pierre…he is hardcore. He’s already put as much into his rehab as I have seen any athlete put into his rehabilitation. He had a lot of help from his coworkers, supporters and fellow mascots,” McQueen said. “He’s already quicker, faster, and stronger. I haven’t seen anything like this in my life. Maybe there is something about bird recovery that is special. I wish we could see this in all the people we treat. It is amazing.”
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 11, 2014
This is so stupid.
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