Last week, news leaked that the New Orleans Hornets are planning to change their name as soon as the 2013-14 NBA season. And that new name will be…? The Pelicans. Yep, like the bird. Of course, online reaction to the new name seems to have been mostly negative, with people complaining that the noble pelican hardly makes for a scary or intimidating foe. But I say tell that to the fish who are just swimming down a river, minding their own business, who suddenly find themselves being digested alive inside the belly of a Louisiana brown pelican. And, anyway, since when did we decide all team names had to be scary? Knicks, Nets, Magic, Trail Blazers, Lakers? Those names hardly inspire trepidation.
The real story here is the simple fact that the Hornets are changing names at all. If they were going to do it, the logical time would have been 2002, when they moved to New Orleans from Charlotte. That’s normally when teams change names. However, after ten years in the Big Easy, new owner Tom Benson has decided it’s time to give the Hornets name back to Charlotte and give his team more local flavor.
So how rare is it for a team to change names without relocating? Pretty rare. I found about 15 other solid cases of teams making a fairly clean and sudden break. And here they are. Check ‘em out.