Stern Fine With Hornets’ Change to Pelicans
Being in New Orleans, the Hornets’ decision to change their team name to the Pelicans was something that (David) Stern discussed early and often. Tom Benson, who was awarded the franchise in April, owned a minor league baseball team named the Pelicans and he has retained ownership of the trademarks. However, there was some question over whether the NBA would allow the name change, especially since the Pelicans nickname generated a negative reaction from media and fans when the news leaked.
While Benson and the franchise will still have to undergo a lengthy approval process to make the name change official, Stern made it clear that he has no problem with the Hornets becoming the Pelicans.
“If it works for them, it works for me,” Stern said. “I don’t have any objections to anything that the Hornets want to do name-wise because I’m sure it’ll be sensible. … I’m sure whatever it is, it’ll be good. If [Pelicans] is what it is, that’s fine. … I think everything sounds good. I think Lakers, have you seen any lakes in Los Angeles? There’s the same amount of lakes in L.A. as there is jazz in Utah, or grizzlies in Memphis. I’m out of that business. Whatever works for a team works for me.”
“Everyone seems to know about this thing other than me,” Stern added with a smile. “My guess is that there’s going to be some sort of formal application in the next couple of months and we’ll see where it goes from there. … There are lots of things that have to be filed. In fact, I do know that the Hornets filed to protect five names, trademark protection. They have to apply to us, they have to pay certain fees, there’s a timing schedule, but I think the Hornets may have a friend in the league office that may help expedite the process when they decide on a name. I don’t remember his name, but I’m pretty sure it’ll happen faster than those big old meanies at the NBA say it’ll happen.”
Stern and the NBA owned the Hornets up until Benson purchased the team.