Mascot mishap: New Orleans deserves better

Matt Algarin and Andrew Metz

Matt's Take:

The New Orleans Hornets have turned in their stingers for brown feathers, as they are set to become the New Orleans Pelicans.

No, it's not a typo. You read that right.

The New Orleans Pelicans!

Sounds menacing, right?

Pardon the pun, but could Hornets owner Tom Benson have dreamt up a more bird-brained idea? Sure, the Hornets moniker never fit the Big Easy, but it was better than a pelican.

And yes, I understand the Brown Pelican is the state bird. But, this isn't Animal Planet, this is the National Basketball Association.

What's next, the Phoenix Cactus Wrens, the New York Bluebirds, the Oklahoma City Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, and the Cleveland Cardinals?

As irrelevant as the Utah Jazz have been lately, maybe Benson and the Jazz's ownership could work out a deal to give New Orleans its original name back.

I'm sure all it would take is a handful of VIP passes to a few local "establishments" to seal the deal. Then we could officially ring in the Utah Common American Gulls.

Sounds catchy.

Don't get me wrong, I understand history and the significance of the Pelican name to Benson. The Pelicans were a minor league baseball team that called New Orleans home from the 1880s to 1959 when they flew the coop for Arkansas.

Other names thrown around were the New Orleans Brass or the New Orleans Krewe. While I'm not a fan of either, the Krewe at least sounds a bit more intimidating than the Pelicans.

"Oh my, watch out for that pelican, it looks scary," said no one ever.

I wonder if Disney Pixar would let New Orleans use Nigel from Finding Nemo as its new mascot?

Andrew's Take:

I just had a flashback, and it wasn’t the fun kind.

On Thursday morning, the New Orleans Hornets announced that they are moving forward with their nickname change to the Pelicans.

In the spring semester of my freshman year at Marquette University, after years of complaining by students and alumni because of a very weak mascot, the Golden Eagle, the university board of trustees announced a change, to the “Gold.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for your Marquette Gold! Run and hide, Wisconsin Badgers, because the Gold are coming to get you!”

That lasted about a week. Angry letters from the alumni and student protests incited an emergency meeting. When all was said and done, I was still a Marquette Golden Eagle. And nine years later, this hasn’t changed, revealing the complete ineptitude of university officials to make necessary changes.

A mascot doesn’t even have to be intimidating. It just has to be unique. You can keep eagles, tigers and wildcats; I’m voting for the “Jumpin’ Jesuits.”

If NBA owners had the best interests of the Association in mind, they would force Utah to forfeit the name “Jazz,” because it belongs in New Orleans. But the only considered interests are their own.

A complete, psychological disconnect between the fans and the owners couldn’t be more prevalent than in times like these. A nickname should be relevant and compelling, especially to the community of which the team is apart. I understand that the pelican is that state bird of Louisiana, but give me a break.

NBA commissioner David Stern still has to approve the change, and he has the opportunity to send Hornets owner Tom Benson back to the drawing board. Dave, do the right thing.

Here are some ideas to get the wheels turning… The “Cajuns” would obviously refer directly to the community. The “Ships” could represent the city’s activity as a port. And you could always steal “Voodoo” from the arena football team.

Based on my experience in New Orleans, I support New Orleans“Huge Ass Beers.”Slam-dunk.