It marks the first time since the Jazz left town in 1979 that the basketball team will have an identity fitting of the unique and local flavor of New Orleans. The brown pelican is the state bird, and the official nickname of Louisiana is the “Pelican State.”
While not everyone is happy with the change, at the very least least it will be something that fans in Big Easy can proudly say they are part of.
Remember, the Hornets moniker is a holdover from the franchise’s early days in Charlotte, where they began NBA play as an expansion team back in 1988 up until the move to NOLA in 2002.
The Pelicans is also an interesting name because it has roots in the city’s sports history. Back in 1887, a minor league baseball team was founded and played—sometimes sporadically—through 1977 before relocating to Illinois, according to Sekou Smith of NBA.com.
This switch is going to come with a brand new set of colors, too, as per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports:
NBA New Orleans Pelicans colors will be blue, gold and red.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) January 23, 2013
It’s certainly a more modern, eye-pleasing scheme, but it does lack the Mardi Gras flair that the Hornets uniforms brought to the table. Perhaps if the team was renamed to the Krewe or Brass—two potential ideas originally explored by new owner Tom Benson—they wouldn’t have changed.