Way back in the long, long ago of 2009, the New Orleans Hornets wore green, gold and purple special Mardi Gras uniforms for select midseason matchups to pay tribute their hometown's legendary annual Carnival celebration. The team wore them for three seasons, before the franchise went through the identity overhaul that brought us the New Orleans Pelicans, returned the Hornets to Charlotte, and relegated the Bobcats to that great mountainous forest/swamp/desert in the sky.
Now, as part of the Pelicans' ongoing attempt to more fully connect with its local fanbase — an effort that has brought us such wonders as "The Special Man Plan" and such terrors as the return of King Cake Baby, NOLA's brass has brought back the Mardi Gras kits, unveiling them Thursday in an event at Mardi Gras World:
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The old/new threads — intended to "signify and represent the relationship between a team, a city and a culture of a region," as the Pelicans said at the unveiling — look just about exactly like the designs included in the massive leak of forthcoming NBA uniform designs that made its way across the Internet back in July. The design brings back the purple fronts, NOLA wordmark and wrought-iron-style letters and numerals of the '09-era version, but thankfully eschew the green back of that edition in favor of a uniform purple look with green and gold accents.
Those accents, however, appear around the shoulders of the short-sleeved jersey, marking yet another new alternate uniform — along with those recently introduced by the Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets — using Adidas' much-maligned sleeved silhouette. Whether the oft-derided move toward short sleeves will persist when Nike takes over the NBA's apparel contract in two years remains to be seen, but for now, eliminating bare arms is part of the league's standard operating procedure for rebranding efforts, according to the Pelicans' press release announcing the new unis:
The unveiling of the uniforms follows the NBA’s progression for teams that introduce a new identity. The first season, home and road uniforms are released, followed by an alternate uniform. The third year, teams can add a “Pride” uniform with required sleeves. The “Pride” uniforms utilize indigenous design elements or phrases or colors that are linked to the team’s local culture in a manner that enhances and extends the team's identity.
So that explains it, I guess!
We've touched on the cons and cons of sleeved jerseys in the past, so we won't rehash them here, except to say that the addition of the green-and-gold stripes on the shoulder continues to look sort of odd and uncomfortable, like the Pelicans are wearing super-tight and restrictive schoolbags. The other touches, though, are pretty rad — I'm a sucker for cool secondary logos, and the Pelicans' "Crescent City Basketball" circular patch and the NO/basketball/compass combination certainly qualify:
A closer look at the new threads! pic.twitter.com/hITctKdAYS— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) September 17, 2015
As is the case with the league's other "Pride" uniforms, the Pelicans will be allowed to wear their Mardi Gras kits as many as six times this season. New Orleans plans to take full advantage of the full half-dozen surrounding Mardis Gras season, rocking them during home games on Jan. 30 vs. the Brooklyn Nets, Feb. 1 vs. the Memphis Grizzlies and Feb. 4 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers, which will be nationally televised on TNT. The Pelicans will wear the new alternates on the road, as well, getting colorful on Feb. 3 against the San Antonio Spurs, Feb. 6 against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Feb. 8 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
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