New Orleans Hornets To Become New Orleans Pelicans
The NBA's New Orleans Hornets will officially change the name of their franchise to the New Orleans Pelicans at a news conference on Thursday, according to a Yahoo! Sports source. The team will also debut an entirely new color scheme of blue, gold and red. Several logos fitting that description have been leaked online, but none has yet been deemed official.
Hornets owner Tom Benson, who also owns the NFL's New Orleans Saints, bought the NBA team in the spring of 2012. He has openly mentioned a desire to change the franchise's moniker to something more reminiscent of New Orleans; the brown pelican is the official bird of Louisiana and appears on the state's flag and seal. Pelicans, a nickname whose rights are now owned by Benson, was formerly used by a New Orleans minor league baseball team.
The Hornets moved to Louisiana from Charlotte in 2002, bringing the North Carolina franchise's name with them. The team relocated to Oklahoma City from 2005 to 2007 after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans. The Jazz played in the city from 1974 to 1979 before moving to Utah.
The league must sign off on any name change. The last NBA team to change its nickname was the Seattle SuperSonics, who were renamed the Oklahoma City Thunder when they relocated in 2008. The last franchise to change its nickname while remaining in the same city was Washington, which changed its name from Bullets to Wizards in 1997.