COMMENTARY | You know New Orleans Hornets' fans are already looking forward to next season when the two top stories in recent days have been the team's colors and name for 2013-14. Hornets' owner Tom Benson has made no secret of his desire to change the team's name. On Wednesday night, news broke that the Hornets will become the Pelicans next season.
New Orleans Pelicans
For people not familiar with this connection, the NBA Pelicans would not be the first professional sports franchise with this name in New Orleans. The Pelicans were a minor league baseball team in New Orleans from 1887-1959 and returned for one season in 1977. As a boy, I grew up on stories about the Pelicans from my grandfather, who was an avid baseball fan.
The Pelicans were a very successful club that won numerous Southern Association championships. Even the great "Shoeless" Joe Jackson played for the Pelicans in 1910. Today, I drive past the former site of old Pelican Stadium, which is now a storage unit facility, on Tulane Avenue all the time.
I've written on this topic before, but I was in the minority of Hornets' fans that did not want to see a name change. The Hornets have played in New Orleans for over 10 years and I do feel a connection to the team and its name. But if this is one of the perks that Tom Benson gets for keeping the NBA in New Orleans, I can live with a new team name.
If a name change were to take place, I thought the Hornets were going to become the Brass instead of the Pelicans. For a brief time, New Orleans had a minor league hockey team named the Brass. The team was very popular and its owner was (you guessed it) Tom Benson. Of course, a New Orleans Brass NBA team would have rekindled the memories of older NBA fans who still remember the Jazz playing in the Big Easy before the Hornets.
Still, Louisiana's nickname is the Pelican State and the state bird is the brown pelican. I don't know if Pelicans are scarier than Hornets, but the NFL team in New Orleans has done just fine with a flower on its helmets and the name Saints.
Looking ahead, I do feel sorry for Hugo, the Hornets' current mascot. Except for a stunt with fire that went awry in an NBA Playoff game, Hugo has been outstanding for the Hornets. I wonder if Benson will bring Seymour D. Fair (the pelican mascot of the 1984 World's Fair in New Orleans) out of mothballs to be the New Orleans Pelicans' mascot.
Hopefully, Benson will bring back former Hornet Chris "Birdman" Andersen to play for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. A loyal New Orleans NBA fan, Patrick was a diehard New Orleans Jazz fan and now cheers for the Hornets. Patrick was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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