As early as next season the New Orleans Hornets may become the New Orleans Pelicans. I repeat, Pelicans. Doesn’t it have a nice ring to it? It just rolls right off the tongue. And what could be more intimidating than a Pelican? Owner Tom Benson will also be changing their colors from teal and purple to red, gold and navy blue. And he’ll also be signing Will Ferrell.
Throughout sports history there have been some pretty lame team nicknames. And even today, the college and minor league landscape is full of them. But for a professional basketball team to name themselves the Pelicans really just tells me we’re running out of ideas, or at least people with any good ones.
We all know that sports is also business and any owner can change their name and uniforms as they like or even relocate just as any business owner has the right to. But for the rest of us this leads to a continuously confusing game of musical chairs between franchises and fan bases, that forever throws the sports-universe out of whack.
I know it will never happen, but in a perfect world, New Orleans, Charlotte and Utah would all swap names. That way the Jazz would be back in the Big Easy, the Hornets and their bee-hive court would be back in Charlotte and, sorry Utah, you’d get the Bobcats. At least a cat name there would be believable. Name one Jazz musician from Utah.
But since we don’t live in a perfect world, there should be some guidelines for team nicknames. Here are just three simple suggestions that would hopefully prevent lame names:
1. It has to be relevant to the city or region where the team is located. At least the New Orleans Pelicans fits this criteria, for the brown pelican is the Louisiana state bird. (Sorry Laker fans, but how many lakes are in LA again?)
2. Unless your team has a classic name like the Celtics or Lakers it ought to sound tough and intimidating or at least cool. After all sports is all about mental and physical toughness. Even some 5-year-olds playing t-ball would be ashamed to wear a pelicans jersey. What are you, a bunch of pelicans?! Get out there!
3. This one wouldn’t be a must, but it would be better if teams stuck to plural names. If you have no idea what your mascot or logo would be, then you probably shouldn’t name your team after it. Thunder, Magic, Heat etc. And the WNBA is full of these names. The Fever, Storm, Sky etc. Also, what do you call a player on one of these teams? Are Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu magicians?
I guess the obvious reason for all these lame new names is that all the good ones are taken. We’ve pretty much exhausted the entire animal kingdom. We’ve used up almost every type of warrior, soldier etc. And we’ve even used up ones like rockets and pistons or any other kind of machine that kicks ass.
So now we’re getting teams like the Pelicans because all of the cool bird names are taken. But at least we’re not getting another team named after some kind of cat. I think we have enough of those. For the love of God, no more cat names!
To finish off this rant, here are a few other undeserving professional sports nicknames that shouldn’t make the cut:
Toronto Raptors (Jurassic Park was hip at the time. You had to be there)
Washington Wizards (this even worse than magicians)
Calgary Flames (this is an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one)
Nashville Predators (this is extremely vague)
Minnesota Wild (again vague but even lamer)