Ex NBA players express opinions on “Hornets” becoming “Pelicans”


Chris Webber

Since this idea was eventually voiced, a lot of people, including fans, and former basketball players expressed their negativity towards the New Orleans Hornets team becoming New Orleans Pelicans.

One of such players was Chris Webber, former NBA All-Star forward.

“Changing the team’s nickname to the Pelicans is going to cause the franchise to potentially become the laughingstock of the league,” Webber said, speaking on a national teleconference recently.

“Come on, everybody in the world knows that’s the worst name ever thought of and they’re going to be a joke,’’ Webber said. “I would hate to be from New Orleans and go somewhere and people tease me about being a Pelican fan.’’

Benson has not filed a formal application with the NBA to change the franchise’s name to the Pelicans. But he is seriously considering it, according to league sources.

Benson has actively pushed for a name change and he has owned the rights to the Pelican nickname for years. The Pelicans were a minor league baseball team in New Orleans from 1887 to 1959 and again in 1977.

NBA Commissioner David Stern said once Benson files an application and pays all the necessary fees that could total up to $3 million for a name change, it likely would be expedited.

Stern said he would support whatever change is desired by Benson, who purchased the Hornets for $338 million last April from the NBA.

Steve Smith

Steve Smith

The NBA’s Board of Governors would have to approve any name change and the process usually takes two years to complete but could come as early as next season with Stern expediting the process.

“Pelicans is not the toughest name in the world. The pelican, even if it is the state bird or whatever, is not something that puts my memory to New Orleans,’’ said Webber, who played 15 seasons in the NBA before retiring in 2008.

“When I think of New Orleans, I think of the wonderful people, the wonderful spirit and the wonderful food. I think of the gators, snakes and all of that stuff.”

Other former NBA players have also expressed their views on the possible name change.

“Even though it’s the state bird, it’s something that doesn’t ring,’’ said former Hornets guard Steve Smith, who works as studio analyst on NBA-TV.

“You can make it ring if you win a championship but until then I’m not on board with the Pelicans. It just doesn’t sound like an NBA team.’’

Smith said the new nickname should be something more representative of New Orleans’ music or heritage. Smith mentioned the Brass would be a better choice than the Pelicans.

Earlier, NBA-TV analyst, and former NBA forward Rick Fox said he understood the reasoning behind Benson’s push to change the nickname.

“When I think of the Hornets’ sometimes, I still think of Charlotte,’’ Fox said. “But this is a new era and new ownership, new team and why not. I don’t know if I would have gone with the Pelicans.’’


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