Top Moments in Pelicans History

Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram (49487799403)
Erik Drost, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

New Orleans Pelicans are one of the two professional sports franchises playing out of the Big Easy, bringing pride to fans whenever they play.

The Pelicans might not be the most illustrious team in NBA, nor the most successful, but their history is littered with magical moments, and not all are on court.  In a Each NBA team has a story to tell that is unique. They each have adapted different changes to their logos, team colors, and even trading players throughout the years. All of these factors have shaped them into the teams that they are todaycity such as ours, with a diverse and definite cultural identity, our basketball teams have had to evolve and develop off court, as much as they have on it to connect with fans.

This season, even with the talented Zion Williamson, success once again looks likely to evade our team. The Pelicans are not expected to reach the NBA finals, if Bwin’s NBA Finals odds are anything to go by, and like last season, have spent much of their existence on the fringes of success without ever truly troubling the game’s elite teams. That does not mean there have not been big moments though, the best five of which we examine below:

Baron Davis

When the Jazz first left New Orleans, it left a gaping hole in the sporting landscape in the Big Easy. Even now, seeing Utah carry the name Jazz, something associated with our city, feels wrong. It was almost fate when NBA finally returned to the city, only to find Utah Jazz as the first opponents for the relocated Hornets. It was a celebration, not just on court, but off it too. Baron Davis was the star, he led the team with 21 points and 10 assists as the Hornets celebrated bringing basketball back to New Orleans with a 100-75 win.

Dominating the Lakers

Few teams are as famed worldwide as the Lakers, so for a team such as the Hornets to dominate them in normal season was eyebrow-raising at the very least. It was November 6, 2007, when Chris Paul and Peja Stojakovic inspired the team to beat the Lakers 118-104 in what was their best performance on court to that date.

2007/08 Western Conference Playoffs

It is worth noting that San Antonio Spurs won this encounter 3-4, but for a moment the plucky underdogs looked like winning the Western Conference playoff semi-finals after twice leading the defending champions. They led the series 2-1, then 3-2 with David West the star in game five. Briefly, it looked as though they might book a date against the Lakers in the final, but their brave resistance fell away in games six and seven.

Tom Benson Buys the Team

The fact the franchise was owned by the NBA was a source of discomfort at best for the Hornets. The NBA invested $20m into the struggling Hornets, but they needed an owner to allow for their own identity to grow. Luckily, Tom Benson stepped in, buying the team for $338m. Benson of course owned the city’s NFL team, the New Orleans Saints too, and was born in the city as well. It was a perfect fit and helped the Hornets become an integral part of the sports scene in the city.

Hornets Become Pelicans

Finally, changing the name of the team from the Hornets to the Pelicans was a huge moment. Tom Benson wanted to have his newly obtained NBA team to have a name that reflected the city’s culture. Changing the name meant that for the first time since the Jazz left for Salt Lake City, there was a team in the city that held some connection with the area. The brown pelican is the state bird of Louisiana, and is a welcome mascot for the city’s new favorite sports team.

New Orleans Pelicans might not be the best team in the NBA, but they are now a firm part of our city and our culture, which is exactly what a professional sports team should be.

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