I used to think the Ducks were the worst named major league sports team. That, of course, assumes you view the NHL as a major league. Because it fits the premise of this column, I do consider it a major league. At least today.
This week’s news that the New Orleans Hornets are changing their nickname to the Pelicans will change my thinking.
The Pelicans. Sure it’s the state bird of Louisiana and I’m sure it’s a prevalent species in The Big Easy, but it’s a bird known for a large beak and roomy throat. It’s an unofficial rule in the NBA that the biggest beak must always belong to Scottie Pippen. (We won’t address the roomy throat, but I’m sure after he retires some player will come out of the closet to tell us that the Pelicans stole that distinction too.)
The only other things pelicans are known for is John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief,” which was a legal thriller (only his third best book) and not a line of bird underwear. Though knowing the NBA, you’ll be able to buy Pelican briefs in time for Christmas 2013.
Not knowing anything about pelicans, except that they are awkward and have bigger gullets than John Madden, I went to America’s source – Wikipedia. If it’s on Wikipedia, it must be true.
Here’s what I learned:
- Pelicans eat small fish (and occasionally turtles) by scooping them off near the surface of the water with a combination of their wings and their Linda Cohn-sized mouths. To quote whatever dipshit knows so much about pelicans he had to share it with other pelican aficionados on Wikipedia: “They catch multiple small fish by expanding the throat pouch, which must be drained above the water surface before swallowing. This operation takes up to a minute, during which time other seabirds may steal the fish.”
- Again, quoting some pelican groupie from Wikipedia: “Adult pelicans rely on visual displays and behaviour to communicate particularly using their wings and bills. Agonistic behaviour consists of thrusting and snapping at opponents with their bills, or lifting and waving their wings in a threatening manner. Adult pelicans grunt when at the colony, but are generally silent elsewhere or outside breeding season.”
So what have we learned about pelicans? They are fishermen who essentially cast their nets to collect prey, but they sit around for up to a minute while others can steal their food. And they don’t make any threatening sounds; they just flap their wings and run their mouths at their enemies, like the cast of “Glee.”
The Hornets had other possible names, according to ESPN, including the Brass and the Krewe. I didn’t know what Krewe was either – it’s the organization that essentially runs Mardi Gras, which makes it a worse name than the Pelicans.
But it’s New Orleans. They could have gone with The Soul, The Po’ Boys, The Bourbon, The Drunken Tourist Hookups, The Dueling Pianos, The Oil Slicks, The Shattered Levees, or Girls with Beads. All of them are better than The Pelicans.
Perhaps this is all an attempt to start a game of NBA name-change musical chairs. The Pelicans is so bad that the Utah Jazz might feel empathetic enough to sell their name back to New Orleans; the Bobcats could take the Hornets name back (Brooklyn should consider Bobcats, just for the alliteration); and Utah would be free to call itself the Utah Sobers or the Utah Post-Marital Sex – let’s face it, there’s about as much Jazz in Utah as there are raptors in Toronto.
But, as in all professional sports, the team owner will get whatever he wants. In this case, a stupid name; I’m sure he’ll design new uniforms with colors that don’t match and a logo that somehow tries to make the Pelicans look like something you fear. He should have gone with the Bourbon. That’s a name I could love. Over ice.