geoffrey gauchet

Tell Me Again About Those Intimidating NBA Team Names

I’ve already written on this topic, but as the reports of the renaming of the New Orleans Hornets as the New Orleans Pelicans get more and more credible, I felt I should revisit it.

Here’s the thing: a lot of people are complaining about the Pelicans name. They think it’s weak, or doesn’t pertain to New Orleans enough, or the Hornets name was just fine. The Hornets name is just fine, sure. Even though the name has to do with Charlotte, NC’s Revolutionary War fighting style and not the insect, we changed it to the mean-ass insect and it worked here. But here’s the deal: the Hornets haven’t ever been fully accepted as a professional sports team in this city. I think some of that is because being named the Hornets still reminds us of Charlotte because that’s who they were for so long. It’s like we’re just borrowing the team for a little while. Renaming and re-branding would make the team feel more like New Orleans’ own and not a team on loan. Hell, none of the front office or coaching staff or players from the Charlotte Hornets are on the NOLA Hornets. It’s an entirely different team.

Rhea and I were at the Hornets vs. Bucks game Monday night and the Arena was damn near empty. Sure it was a Monday night against a team that isn’t exactly a household name, but I can promise you if the Saints were in that situation — playing a Monday night game against some small-market team — the Superdome would be packed.

There’s a reason the NBA had to buy the team and took so long to find a buyer. There’s a reason the team almost left the city. That reason is that the majority of the people here don’t go to the games, don’t buy merchandise, and basically just don’t care about the Hornets.

But the moment a new name is announced OH GOD I BETTER START WHINING EVEN THOUGH I’VE BEEN TO LIKE A GAME. I’m willing to bet that the last 2 days of complaining about “Pelicans” is the most time most people in this city have spent talking about our NBA team. And hey, whatever gets you guys talking about the team is fine by me, but all this down-talk about the name and about how the team has played this season (Almost every player on that team is new to the league! They’re going to take some time to get better and they’re playing REALLY well despite that. Their losses have been VERY close, save for maybe 2 games) just seems misguided.

The biggest complaint is that Pelicans isn’t intimidating enough. Let’s look around the NBA at some team names:

That gives us about 8 teams with “intimidating” names. So, why does our team name have to be intimidating? Also, who says pelicans aren’t intimidating.

Watch this video and tell me this isn’t intimidating. This pelican — a bird — just walks up to a pigeon — also a bird — and just eats it alive and in one piece. A big bird ate another bird in one gulp. YEAH OKAY, THAT’S NOT INTIMIDATING AT ALL.

I’m all for the change. Partly because I think everyone’s arguments are dumb, and partly because I like the name, and partly because I love watching our NBA team.


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