What Do International Hornets Fans Do With New Orleans Pelicans Rebrand?

Published: February 12, 2013

It’s 37 degrees out and I’ve had a few beers. It’s festival season in Australia and there’s music all around. I head to buy some more and I see someone wearing a Hornets cap.

“Oh hey man, I see you’re a Hornets fan, cool!”

“Nah man, I’m actually a Lakers fan.”

“… Uhh okay?”

“Yeah mate, just love the hat, looks cool.”

Me [Holding back anger]: “Right, you guys aren’t winning a championship.”

Conversation pretty much stops, I get my drinks and I lose my respect for NBA fans yet again.

An odd phenomenon has occurred over the past couple of years. This phenomenon is the flat-top hat. The brands from the 90’s are ever prevalent and the Hornets just happen to be one of those. This is what brands do when they have appeal. The colour scheme for the Hornets is pretty awesome which is why it’s going to suck to see it go away.

For international fans like myself it’s a lot tougher to describe the feeling of what we’re going through. We always knew that a rebrand was going to occur, we knew it should occur. That didn’t mean we were okay with it.

An Organisation or a Logo?

The real issue is what are fans really fans of? I mean you can’t say you’re a fan of a picture or a colour that just sounds weird. But not having these to represent an organisation is odd and hollow. Without the Lakers would fans really be fans of the Los Angeles ball-club?

At the end of the day we are fans of success. At the root of my fandom I am a fan of it as well, but in a different way. I have stuck to the Hornets because I really despise glory supporters, bandwagon fans, fans of players (not teams) and I root for an underdog.

This really won’t change with a branding alteration. Being a fan of the New Orleans organisation has become easier over the past couple of years. You can see the foundations for something special building. Patience is a virtue hard to come by and with dwindling crowd figures you can see the full effects in action.

The distinction between organisation and logo is synonomis. If you were a fan of the organisation under the Hornets emblem then you should be one under the Pelican. This is because the same business you were a fan of before is trying to reflect the region in which they play and I respect that.

Do We Move to Charlotte?

One of the things that has been raised to me is whether I would consider moving my fandom back to Charlotte.

The answer is a weak yes.

I guess I love the Hornets so much that I’d have to consider having two teams. But I would never follow them in the same way. The real reason I followed the Hornets was because they were unique, a fun icon in the vast spectrum of NBA logo’s. I grew to love them because they are the underdog.

They aren’t the Lakers, they’re not the Knicks.

Because of that I fell in love with the city of New Orleans, their resilience. This was further exemplified after Hurricane Katrina when the team returned and had the playoff run. It was magical and incandescent. There was no stopping us.

That’s why this Pelican, its resilience, its goofiness is me and will be us.

Charlotte hasn’t had any such characteristics. The last time they faced any resiliency was when the American Civil War was in full swing.

Taking Things Less Seriously

At the end of the day we are fans. While the Hornets logo is spectacularly awesome and cool we can still embrace the ambivalent Pelican logo. It is pretty quirky and nobody really likes it which makes me somewhat happy for my need to like things others don’t.

If you embrace this team now if and when they make a playoff run it’ll be just as exciting, just as fun and just as rewarding to be a part of. Being a fan of the NBA is different to many sports because it has that idiosyncratic sense about it. It’s quite a wacky league that doesn’t hold itself within the confines of the American sporting arena.

This is very much the same line you should take when embracing a new brand and label. We will never forget the Hornets but the Pelicans and the city of New Orleans can have this international fan for the rest of his basketball loving days.

Go Pels, Go!

Tell us what you think Hornets fans, will you be following them regardless of the nickname change? You can contact James on twitter on @jsgrayson


  1. mako

    February 12, 2013 at 8:51 am

    I am rather quiet observer than active 247 member. But this article I have to comment: Mr. Grayson – you have expressed all that I could say about rebranding and since I am quiet observer I would have never done it myself. Many thanks.
    Hornets fan from PL since 1993.

  2. Juff

    February 12, 2013 at 10:21 am

    i’ve never been a fan of the basketball business. Muggsy, LJ, Gill & Curry got me + the bee-thing and the colors. it is hard for a fan to see the players treated like a commodity. you fall in love with some player because of his effort, his game-winners, his style, and suddenly, they get traded away. like if your girlfriend says: sorry, but my new guy has a bigger car. as i fellow the hornets since old days, i predict, there will be none of your players on your roster in 3 years. so i stick with hugo.
    2007 has been an awesome run, though cp3 is a girl. he will never be such a big person as Muggsy is.
    i will stick with the Pels i love, until they get traded away. but i must admit, that you hornets247-people are the best! i can not find a similar news-gathering in Charlotte, especially i love the podcasts, so i will keep on following you some time.
    your new logo looks cool, but too much military-like. reminds me of Luftwaffe (our air force). i can not wear this.
    and there are no pelicans in Germany.

  3. Rafa Brazil

    February 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I like the city of New Orleans, actually I’m planning a trip to NOLA in a few months, hope it happens… I’ll keep checking for news and pelicans stuff, but not the way I do with the Hornets. Just can’t say I love the Pelicans, because I love the Hornets, ever since I can remember myself. Like many told me in the rebrand thread, you might think I’m a fan of a logo, but I follow the franchise, the history of it and the bad and great moments it has provided me. If Charlotte takes the name Hornets, I’ll follow it. Call me whatever you’d like, but I just don’t feel it for the city, it’s not about a city to me, it’s about the history and the feats of the franchise Hornets, not players or cities… Hope you guys understand it

    • scott

      February 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      Okay, I’m sorry but your comment makes absolutely no sense. You said you weren’t just a fan of a logo, but then described yourself of being exactly what you said you weren’t.

      Listen, if your a fan of a team for its colors/name/logo then your not a fan. I don’t care if we change the name to the name to the New Orleans Idiots, and wear purple and pink uniforms, I’m still going to be a fan.

      This is my team, and sure players come and go, but there is NOTHING that could happen to change my team. Any true sports fan will understand.

      • Rafa Brazil

        February 12, 2013 at 1:42 pm

        You didn’t get what I wrote, I’m not a fan of Hugo or the logo, I’m fan of the frachise, and what it represents. You seem to be a fan of the New Orleans’ basketball, and you might not care about the history of the Hornets, as long as New Orleans has a basketball team so you can attend to the games and chant “defense”. To me the city isn’t the most important thing, although I care about it too, but to call me not a fan isn’t nice and right, it never was easy to follow my team from Brazil and it still is hard, you don’t stay up until 4am with a crappy internet connection to watch the Hornets games like I do for years, so please, don’t say I’m not a fan.

      • NOH Domination

        February 12, 2013 at 6:01 pm

        So apparently Scott gets to decide who the true fans are and aren’t…

      • scott

        February 12, 2013 at 10:24 pm

        No NOH domination, I don’t decide who is z true fan, and who isn’t. But I am telling you that if you’ believe that you have to switch teams because you don’t like a name, then your not a true fan.

        It’s not about about the name, or even the city. For me it’s about having a team to call your own. I’m just confused as to why if you’re willing to invest this much time to come to the website and read all these articles, but yet people are willing to switch because of colors and logos.

        Being a fan of our gear and being a fan of our team are two completely different things. To be honest, I didn’t even read most of the rebranding articles, because that really doesn’t affect my devotion to this team.

      • harleyrider105

        February 13, 2013 at 10:22 am

        I am so tired of that lame argument that “if your a fan of a team for its colors/name/logo then your not a fan”. I am a fan of the team because of those reasons and more.It’s history,the players both past and present and my personal connections to it.The last thing I attribute being a fan of a team is the city where it resides, I would go far to say that if your only rooting for that team because its in that city your not a true fan of the team but of the city,which doesn’t make you a true sports fan.

    • WhoDatPelican96

      February 13, 2013 at 12:21 am

      Yes Scott, you do. Rafa has been on here many times saying this point that makes no sense. International fans don’t understand how important the city is to the franchise. How important players are. Without players, where is you team? What are you rooting for Rafa? If you root for the franchise, you root for this organization. This one, right here, regardless of name. What you are describing is in fact rooting for a mascot and name. An identity.

      • WhoDatPelican96

        February 13, 2013 at 12:24 am

        I applaud you for staying up late and watching, but will a new logo make what you are watching not as special? Monty, the players, the arena, the tv announcers. They will all be the same. So what hurts so much?

      • harleyrider105

        February 13, 2013 at 10:32 am

        That “identity” is what this franchise is and and by rooting for that you are indeed supporting the franchise.The city is only as important to the franchise as the support it gives. If the support is there then it stays if not it picks up and moves elsewhere,Players and management come and go as well. If you are not rooting for this identity then I would have to
        ask what are you rooting for?

      • Rafa Brazil

        February 13, 2013 at 3:08 pm

        Well i agree with harley, if my point makes no sense to most of the guys here, then I can’t do much more else… It’s just not the same to to me when you change the name of my team… Maybe for some international fans, the ideia of rooting for a team is different than to others and to americans and natives of the city it is located… That’s the way the rebranding feels to me, and I never tried to change anybody’s mind about it, just wanted to show that I’m not happy about it… Don’t mean to make people unconfortable about my comments or anything like that.

        And I’m sorry about my english, shouldn’t have missed so many classes when I was younger!

      • WhoDatPelican96

        February 15, 2013 at 4:08 pm

        I root for new Orleans basketball. Regardless of name. Players and coaches come and go but the team and organization itself is where my loyalty lies. You root for an identity. And by identity you mean colors, name and logo.

  4. Jason Calmes

    February 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Good take on things.

    In the end, a team is just a receptacle for fandom. Some people focus on different things than others. Some people follow a player, a logo, the abstract organization, or whatever else.

    I don’t think there is much explanation to be had for these emotional things.

    For me, it’s got more to do with the city than anything, and I really don’t care about much of the rest of it.

    • James Grayson

      February 12, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      I think for us international fans its much more than just a city. The logo and colours do matter because how else do we end up being fans in the first place? I very much doubt I’d be a fan of the New Orleans team if it weren’t for the Hornets name.

      What I’m saying is I’ve evolved to love the city as well as the logo and colours. What New Orleans has done over the past decade is pretty outstanding and because of that and the fact the city is probably the best in America has meant I’ve embraced it.

      It’s an odd relationship, not one bound by typical fandom.

  5. scott

    February 12, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    I respect that youve gone through so much trouble from so far away to support the hornets, but why give it Up now? becsuse you dont like the name? And i can see that living in new orleans makes it easier to remain a fan, but even if they would have moved cities I would have stayed loyal because its in my blood. While I do love the city, I love my team more than anything.

    And im not sure you understand what franchise means. A franchise is the team, not the name. Just because the bobcats might take our name, doesn’t mean that their our franchise. And as far as feats go, really? The bobcats? Our future is as bright as any team out there, and I advise you to hang on for a little while longer. When the pelicans are in the finals in three years, will you really care that the name isn’t that great?

  6. KMatt

    February 12, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I’m a 20 year old Hornets/Pelicans fan from Costa Rica, that actually couldn’t care less about the nickname, I follow this team since we drafted X West and honestly the main reason was cuz the rest of NBA teams were full of bandwagons (big market teams) so I like to root for underdogs like us. Got mad respect for NOLA and the culture. So yes, I don’t know what I’m going to do with my Hornets gear if Charlotte gets the name back, but like somebody in L.A said, my heart is in New Orleans. I just hope we get some cool Pelicans jerseys.

  7. Nithenz

    February 12, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Im an Argentinian fan since 92 and as most of us,i started following the Hornets just because a friend gave me a cap because he thought it was nice. Later i saw a magazine with LJ and Muggsy on the cover and said “hey, those are the guys from the cap” and bought it. Catch some games later, started reading recaps, bought jerseys, travelled to Charlotte, attended some games, planed a trip to NOLA so you can see, something as stupid as a Logo/color scheme got me hooked on the team. Yes, TEAM, not logo, not owner, not franchise. The team History started in Charlotte, took us to NOLA and a brief stint at OK. I totally HATE to see the logo/colors taken away, but i will remain a fan of the Pelicans, as that is the team that my Hornets will transformto. All the history, records, players are Hornets.

    And a quick questions to those who follow franchises/Organizations…Guess you are all great fans of the Jazz, as that organization was in NOLA up to 79? I guess most locals are fans of New Orleans Basketball, and im totally fine with that, but i am almost certain that international fans know more about the history of the team and are more…how do i put it not hurting locals feelings… loyal fans. I guess not many of the locals follows this team for more than 20 yrs as lots of international fans. Not trying to say we are better fans, or have a beter argument when it comes to rebranding, but reading so many people laught at fans that have followed the team for far more years because they are a fan of a Logo,or Hugo. In fact, it doesnt matter how you became a fan, the only important thing is to support your team in good and bad seasons. I had several of both of those seasons under my wing and i would love my HORNETS to keep alive, but not because i follow a name, just because its the name that started all this fandom in me.

    Mariano from Argentina, fan since 92.-

    • WhoDatPelican96

      February 13, 2013 at 12:27 am

      More well spoken than any other international fan I’ve seen. We all have our special ways we came to this team and we all remember them. But those memories don’t go away, and the same team remains here.

      • harleyrider105

        February 13, 2013 at 10:37 am

        No the same team does not remain here, Nothing about it remains the same.

      • Nithenz

        February 14, 2013 at 11:57 am

        For some reason i just can reply here instead of replying to Harleyrider105 bellow me. Why do you say “…Nothing about it remains the same.” For me the New Orleans Hornets got the SW division championship, not the pelicans…history remains…unless you have short term memory…

        One question i have, no idea if anyone knows the answer…What about Bobby Phill’s Jersey hanging in the arena…Will that remain, No idea if that is still there, if its a New Orleans Hornets or a Charlotte Jersey…will that change, willit still be there? Any expert on this??

      • Nithenz

        February 14, 2013 at 11:58 am

        Ok, and now i see the reply goes to the bottom of the chain..

    • Nithenz

      February 14, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      and thanks WhoDatPelican96, its always a challenge to write in a foreign languaje, never know if what i’m trying to express will be interpreted as what one thinks, good too see at least it’s understandable.

  8. Wispy

    February 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Nice article James I must say I agree with your comments 100%.
    I find it funny how when I was in school everyone was a Bulls fan because of Jordan and when he retired those same fans suddenly become Lakers fans because of Kobe, I just wonder what happens to guys when Kobe eventually retires? It seems very artificial to follow a club because they are popular and succesful and it happens in all sports where bandwagon supporters jump on and off as they please.

    Will I be sad to see the hornets logo, coulours etc go – of course I will because as people have stated above that is what turned me to a hornets fan to begin with. So I think deep down inside I will still have a soft spot for the hornets if Charlotte decide to use the name again.

    I look forward to many more years of support for this team no matter what they are called!

    Fan since 92 Melbourne, Australia

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