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Charlotte could be ready to take Hornets
New Orleans NBA owner aims to switch name
 
Published Thursday, December 6, 2012 9:37 am
by The Sporting News

The New Orleans Hornets are expected to change their nickname to the Pelicans as early as the 2013-14 season, numerous sources told Yahoo! Sports.

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PHOTO/CURTIS WILSON
The Charlotte Bobcats name could disappear if the New Orleans Hornets change to Pelicans, freeing the Hornets nickname to return to Charlotte. The Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2002, but Charlotte fans have urged Bobcats owner Michael Jordan to acquire the name for his NBA franchise.  


Other considerations, according to Yahoo!: The Krewe and the Brass.


Louisiana’s nickname is the Pelican State. The brown pelican is the state bird and appears on the state flag and seal, and official state painting.


Tom Benson, who bought the team last year, said he wanted to change the name of franchise to something that’s more identifiable with the city than Hornets and suggested that Jazz, which moved with the team that relocated from New Orleans to Utah in 1979, was his first preference.


“We need to find a name like (Jazz),” Benson said after the purchase was finalized in April. “Whether we can get that or (they) let us use that, you’ve got to know we’re working on it. We’d like to change it tomorrow. We have not gotten that approved, but we’re not letting up on it, either. Because we’ve got a good relationship with the commissioner and his people and we’re going to be on them daily to do something.”


NBA commissioner David Stern said at the time that a switch back to Jazz wouldn’t happen.


“It belongs to Utah,” Stern said of the Jazz brand. “I wouldn’t make it such an important point. There are many things that are indigenous to the area. I’m sure there will be some wonderful nicknames (suggestions).”


Yahoo! reported that Benson owns the rights to the Pelicans nickname.


Hornets spokesman Harold Kaufman told USA Today that the league has not approved the switch. “(A)ny name and color changes are controlled by the NBA and that process has yet to take shape,” Kaufman was quoted as saying.


If the Hornets become the Pelicans, the next domino could be Charlotte reclaiming the Hornets nickname. The franchise started out there in 1988 and moved to New Orleans in 2002. The Bobcats, an expansion team that began play in 2004, were so named for former owner Robert Johnson, but the Hornets name is favored in the area—throwback Hornets gear is a common sight.


“It’s definitely an interest down the road, but right now it’s the New Orleans Hornets,” Bobcats owner Michael Jordan told the Charlotte Observer. “We would definitely entertain the opportunity. That’s as much as we can say right now. We’ve heard the community ask the question, and we would listen.”

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