Pelicans Are Here, But Not On Jersey


Since those dark days not so long ago when Chris Paul wanted to bail and the NBA seized control of a listing steamboat lacking a working paddle wheel, there’s now plenty to admire about the franchise that proudly recast itself as the New Orleans Pelicans.

Longtime Saints owner Tom Benson, a New Orleans native, bought the team and likely saved it from the same fate as the Jazz. General manager Dell Demps has put his stamp on a roster that was routinely playing to a half-empty house and coach Monty Williams has created a culture of hard work.

The Pelicans will open the 2013-14 season with All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson and last year’s No. 1 pick Anthony Davis, who played very well at the Team USA training camp late last month in Las Vegas.

A new identity seemed in order and I was a big fan of the name change from an insignificant out-of-state insect to the Louisiana state bird. I prefer nicknames with significance. As owner Benson noted, any bird that can survive the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill makes for a great team name. The new logo is pretty good, too, although there was actually one floating around the Internet I liked better.

I also like the Pelicans’ uniforms the team unveiled at a Thursday press conference. Simple and sharp, they include home whites and blue roadies, both accented in red and gold. I’m a big uniform guy (in fact this guy has my dream job) and I think these new duds offer a pretty classic look (after all, there’s not a hint of teal or a giant cartoon pelican to be found). I like the typeface of the numbers and lettering, which was taken from French Quarter street signs.

However, I do have one beak, er, beef: Why isn’t the name “PELICANS” boldly emblazoned across the chest of the home jerseys? Both uniforms will read “NEW ORLEANS,” and in rather small lettering, I suppose because New Orleans is rather lengthy to strip across the chest.

The franchise put so much thought into its re-branding effort to Pelicans, yet it won’t utilize perhaps the most unique, if not silly-sounding, nickname in all of sports on its home jersey? They’re hard-selling the new team name, the franchise’s new identity — the mighty Pelicans — so put it in big letters on the front of the jersey for all to see.

(A third and fourth jersey will be introduced, respectively, for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 season so maybe they’ll address my beef then).

Traditionally, a team’s nickname goes on its home uniform anyway and the city name goes on the road uniform. Yet, even as the New Orleans group was seeking a classic, traditional look on its uniform, it veered from tradition and, unfortunately, “NEW ORLEANS” across the home uniform gives it a bit of a boring look.

“We wanted to make sure that they represented the city and the whole region,” Benson said of the unis during the press conference. “New Orleans does that and I think that was very important to us.”

A few years back, baseball’s Texas Rangers dropped “Rangers” from their home uniforms in favor of “TEXAS” on all their jerseys because, they said, they wanted to be the team for all of Texas. New Orleans is a city, not a region. They didn’t change the name to the Gulf Coast Pelicans, which, if they had, they could have gone with “Gulf Coast” on both uniforms to be inclusive to the region.

The last team to unveil new uniforms, the Brooklyn Nets, also chose to use “BROOKLYN” on both its home and road uniforms. That made sense. The franchise wasn’t selling the old sad-sack Nets, a name with no emotional value to its new fan base. They’re hard-selling Brooklyn.

Hey, it’s only a uniform and a pretty good-looking one at that. But, for me, “PELICANS” would be front and center.


  1. derrik says:

    who knows, they might use the “pelicans” on their alternate jerseys

  2. Loose Change says:

    No! New Orleans looks betta on the jerseys. Lets be honest, the ‘New orleans Pelicans and even the Toronto Raptors sound more like minor league teams. And like the article said, they’re representin a city and not a region, so I hope they keep the jerseys like this. Besides, havin the word Pelican stiched on those jerseys would look ugly, regardless just like it was for the Raptors havin that name on their jerseys.

  3. John says:

    Looks like the Nets and Pacers jerseys. I dislike the team but I dislike the jerseys even more

  4. Maximilian says:

    Oh, and who in the world tells Adidas that those short sleeves are not right?


  5. Maximilian says:

    I also thought about that, but (just like I addressed you in an e-mail a while ago, Jeff) I am still curious about who calls the shots when it comes to uniforms and what the rules to follow are. As far as I learned from observing the NBA until now, teams would play their home jerseys at home and their away jerseys on the road (obviously), with minor exceptions like the Lakers Sunday whites. There are also period-coordinated throwback jerseys for certain teams on exceptional nights and the Christmas uniforms that are good for some teams, decent for others and dreadful for some, plus the Bulls, Knicks ans Celtics St. Patrick’s Day jerseys and the Noche Latina specials. Okay, I get it so far. But what about the alternates? I mean when do the Bulls and the Magic wear their black equipment or when do the Blazers use their reds? And when is the town name written on the jerseys instead of the nickname and on which of them?

    I might also add that the NBA plays a very smart game when it comes to image. It’s easy for someone to like a team from the USA, as opposed to those over here in Europe where team names sound dull, jersey design is non-existent and everything, most important courts are plastered with all sort of distracting logos. But still, who gives the approval for sheer ugly gear, such as OKC’s black (?) alternates or the Raptors’ camo. Is somebody supervising jersey sales and taking notes: “This goes, this doesn’t, let’s try something different…”? Also, is there a plan to bring certain throwbacks to the game each year?

    All this might sound silly, but basketball is a fan’s sport and the jersey is a very important connection to whom you like, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are jersey nerds out here.

    Thanks for reading!

    Max from Romania

  6. ralph says:

    Pelicans? on the jersey? c’mon! New Orleans looks good to me!

  7. Popoy says:

    This article doesn’t make sense