New Orleans Pelicans
|New Orleans Pelicans|
New Orleans Hornets
New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets
New Orleans Pelicans
|Arena||Smoothie King Center|
|City||New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Team colors||Navy, Gold, Red, White
|General manager||Dell Demps|
|Head coach||Monty Williams|
|D-League affiliate||Iowa Energy|
|Division titles||1 (2008)|
The New Orleans Pelicans are a professional basketball team based in New Orleans, Louisiana. They play in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association. The franchise began play during the 1988–89 NBA season as the Charlotte Hornets, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they were located for fourteen seasons. Following the 2001–02 season, the team relocated to New Orleans, becoming the New Orleans Hornets. After three seasons in New Orleans, due to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, the franchise temporarily relocated to Oklahoma City, where they spent two seasons officially known as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. The Hornets returned to New Orleans full-time for the 2007–08 season. The franchise's name was changed to the "Pelicans" at the conclusion of the 2012–13 season. That same offseason, the Hornets name was returned to its original city to be used by the Charlotte Bobcats, effective in the 2014–15 season.
In 25 seasons of play the franchise has achieved an overall regular season record of 961–1,023, and has qualified for the post-season 12 times. Their achievements include five playoff series victories and one division title.
- 1 Franchise history
- 1.1 1985–88: Birth of the Hornets
- 1.2 1988–1991: Growing pains
- 1.3 1991–95: Johnson/Mourning era
- 1.4 1995–98: Glen Rice era
- 1.5 1998–2002: Final years in Charlotte
- 1.6 Relocation to New Orleans
- 1.7 2002–2005: Early years in New Orleans
- 1.8 2005–2011: Chris Paul era
- 1.9 2011–2013: Last years as the Hornets
- 1.10 2013–present: Reborn as the Pelicans
- 2 Players
- 3 Franchise awards and honors
- 4 Seasons
- 5 Home arenas
- 6 Mascot
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
1985–88: Birth of the Hornets
In 1985 the NBA was planning to expand by four teams. George Shinn, an entrepreneur from Kannapolis, North Carolina, wanted to bring an NBA team to the Charlotte area, and he assembled a group of prominent local businessmen to head the prospective franchise. The Charlotte area had long been a hotbed for college basketball. The Atlantic Coast Conference's four North Carolina teams, as well as local teams Charlotte, Davidson and Johnson C. Smith, have large and loyal fan bases in the city. Charlotte was also one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, and was previously one of the three in-state regional homes to the American Basketball Association's Carolina Cougars, from 1969 to 1974.
Some critics doubted that Charlotte could support an NBA team; one Sacramento Bee columnist joked, "The only franchise Charlotte is going to get is one with golden arches." However, Shinn's ace in the hole was the Charlotte Coliseum, a state-of-the-art arena under construction that would seat almost 24,000 spectators – the largest basketball-specific arena ever to serve as a full-time home for an NBA team. On April 5, 1987, NBA Commissioner David Stern called Shinn to tell him that his group had been awarded the 24th franchise of the NBA, to begin play in 1988. Franchises were also granted to Miami, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, and Orlando.
Originally, the new team was going to be called the Charlotte Spirit, but a name-the-team contest yielded "Hornets" as the winning choice. The name was derived from the city's fierce resistance to British occupation during the Revolutionary War, which prompted the British commander, Lord Cornwallis, to refer to it as "a veritable nest of hornets." The name had been used for Charlotte sports teams before, including a minor league baseball team that was located in the city from 1901 to 1972, as well as a World Football League team that played there from 1974 to 1975. In addition the Charlotte 49ers and Davidson Wildcats of the NCAA play annually for the Hornets' Nest Trophy.
The team received attention when it chose teal as its primary color, setting off a sports fashion craze in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with many pro and amateur clubs soon following with teal in their color schemes. The team's uniforms were designed by international designer and North Carolina native Alexander Julian, and featured a first for NBA uniforms--pinstripes. Similar designs by the Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers followed soon after.
Shinn hired Carl Scheer, a longtime NBA executive, as the team's first general manager. Scheer preferred a roster of veteran players, hoping to put together a competitive team as soon as possible, with a goal of making the playoffs in five years. Former college coach and veteran NBA assistant Dick Harter was also hired, becoming the team's first head coach.
In 1988 the Hornets and the Miami Heat were part of the 1988 NBA Expansion Draft. Unlike many expansion franchises that invest in the future with a team composed entirely of young players, Charlotte stocked its inaugural roster with several veterans in hopes of putting a competitive lineup on the court right away. The team also had three draft picks at the 1988 NBA Draft.
1988–1991: Growing pains
In its inaugural season the Hornets were led by ex-Pistons guard Kelly Tripucka, who provided instant offense and was Charlotte's top scorer for the franchise's first two seasons. Other notable players included sharpshooting rookie and first-ever draft choice Rex Chapman, a long-distance scoring threat, and floor general Muggsy Bogues, the shortest player in NBA history at 5'3". The Hornets' first NBA game took place on November 4, 1988, at the Charlotte Coliseum, and was a 133–93 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Four days later, the team notched their first-ever victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, 117–105. On December 23, 1988, the Hornets really gave their fans something to cheer about, beating Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls 103–101 at the buzzer in Jordan's first return to North Carolina as a professional. The Hornets finished their inaugural season with a record of 20 wins and 62 losses.
Despite initial concerns that the Coliseum was too big, the Hornets were a runaway hit in their first season, leading the NBA in attendance, a feat they would achieve seven more times in Charlotte. Eventually, the Hornets would sell out 364 consecutive games—almost nine consecutive seasons.
The Hornets' second season was a struggle from start to finish. Members of the team rebelled against Dick Harter's defense-oriented style, and he was replaced mid-season by assistant Gene Littles following a dismal 8–32 start. Despite the change, the team continued to struggle during the second half of the season, suffering through a 3–31 stretch from January through March. In the end, the team took a step backwards, finishing the season with a disappointing 19–63 record – one game worse than their previous season.
In the 1990 NBA Draft the Hornets selected guard Kendall Gill with the 5th overall pick. The team showed improvement during the 1990–91 season. They won eight of their first fifteen games, including a 120–105 victory over the Washington Bullets. However, the team went cold, losing their next eleven games and falling to an 8–18 record. The Hornets, who hosted the 1991 NBA All-Star Game, finished their third season with a 26–56 record. Despite the team's seven-game improvement over the previous season, however, Gene Littles was fired at the end of the season and replaced by general manager Allan Bristow.
1991–95: Johnson/Mourning era
With the first pick in the 1991 NBA Draft, the Hornets drafted power forward Larry Johnson from University of Nevada Las Vegas. Johnson had an impact season, finishing among the league leaders in points and rebounds, and winning the 1992 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Additionally, Guard Kendall Gill led the club in scoring, averaging over 20 points per game. The team stayed in contention for a playoff spot until March, but in the end, they finished the season with a record of 31–51. Despite continuing to improve, the Hornets failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
The Hornets were in the lottery again in 1992, and won the second overall pick in the draft, using it to select Georgetown center Alonzo Mourning. The Hornets now had two 20–10 threats in Johnson and Mourning, who with Kendall Gill, formed perhaps the league's top young trio. The team finished their fifth season at 44–38, their first-ever winning record and good enough for the first playoff berth in franchise history. Finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference, the Hornets upset the Boston Celtics in the first round, with Mourning winning the series with a 20-footer in game four. However, the Hornets lacked the experience and depth to defeat the New York Knicks, falling in five games in the second round.
The Hornets finished the 1993–94 season with a 41–41 record, narrowly missing the playoffs. Despite injuries to both Johnson and Mourning, the two led the team in points-per-game. The following season, the Hornets finished the regular season with 50 wins and 32 losses, and returned to the playoffs. Johnson and Mourning again led the team in points-per-game, while also leading the club in rebounding. However, Charlotte was bounced from the playoffs in the first round, falling to the Chicago Bulls in four games. Following the season, the Johnson–Mourning era would come to an end, as the Hornets traded Mourning to the Miami Heat for forward Glen Rice, center Matt Geiger, and guard Khalid Reeves.
1995–98: Glen Rice era
Glen Rice would make an immediate impact after joining the Hornets, leading the team in scoring and points-per-game during the 1995–96 season. While Rice and Johnson provided high-powered scoring, Geiger tied with Johnson for the team lead in rebounds, and All-Star guard Kenny Anderson ran the point for the injured Muggsy Bogues. The Hornets were competitive, but failed to qualify for the playoffs during the season, again finishing with a 41–41 record. Head Coach Allan Bristow resigned at the end of the season, and was replaced by NBA legend Dave Cowens.
The 1996 offseason was again marked by vast changes: Anderson declined to re-sign, Johnson was shipped to the Knicks for power forward Anthony Mason, and the team made a trade on draft day 1996. They acquired center Vlade Divac from the Los Angeles Lakers for the rights to Kobe Bryant, who the Hornets picked 13th in the draft. The new-look Hornets were successful, with Divac and Geiger providing the center combination, Mason averaging a double-double, Bogues back at the point, and Rice having the finest season of his career. The team achieved the best season in its history at the time, finishing with 54 victories compared to only 28 losses, and making it back to the playoffs. Rice finishing third in the league in scoring, earning all-NBA second team honors, and was also the All-Star Game MVP, setting several scoring records. Despite the success during the regular season, the Hornets went down rather meekly to the Knicks in three straight games.
The 1997–98 season was also successful. Muggsy Bogues was traded two games into the season, and the team picked up point guard David Wesley and shooting guard Bobby Phills. With Wesley, Phills, Rice, Mason and Divac, the Hornets romped through the regular season, finishing with a 51–31 record; Rice had another good season, as he finished sixth in league scoring and earned all-NBA third team honors. The Hornets made it to back-to-back playoffs for the first time in franchise history, and advanced to the second round, only to again be stopped by the Bulls.
1998–2002: Final years in Charlotte
The 1998–99 season was turbulent. The season didn't start until February, as lockout shortened the regular season to only 50 games. Additionally, Glen Rice was traded to the Lakers for Eddie Jones and Elden Campbell, and David Cowens resigned midway through the season. He was replaced by former Celtics teammate Paul Silas, who became the franchises fifth Head Coach. The team finished the season with a 26–24 record, but failed to qualify for the playoffs.
The 1999–2000 season saw a return to prominence, with the addition of free agent Derrick Coleman, and point guard Baron Davis, the third overall draft pick. The Hornets tore through much of the season, but tragedy struck on January 12, 2000, when fan favorite and top reserve Bobby Phills was killed in an automobile accident; the Hornets retired his #13 on February 9, 2000. After finishing the regular season with a 49–33 record, the team was able to return to the playoffs, where they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. The season, however, was overshadowed by events off the court. The team's popularity had begun to sag due to fan discontent with owner George Shinn's personnel moves; he had reportedly traded Mourning and several other stars out of an unwillingness to pay them market value. Additionally, Michael Jordan, a North Carolina native, began negotiations to become part-owner of the team, but talks collapsed when Shinn refused to grant Jordan total control over the basketball side of the operation. Because of this, the team's attendance dropped to eleventh in the league for the season.
In the 2000–01 season, the Hornets managed to return to the playoffs, finishing the season with a 46–36 record. While they upset the third-seeded Heat in the first round and made it to the conference semifinals for just the third time in franchise history, they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games. Despite the team continuing to play well, their popularity continued to fall, with the team finishing twenty-first in the league in attendance for the season.
The Hornets returned to the playoffs the following season, finishing the regular season at 44–38. After defeating the Orlando Magic in the first round, they were upended by the New Jersey Nets in five games in the Conference Semifinals. The team finished the season twenty-ninth (last) in the league in attendance, a stark contrast to their earlier years in Charlotte. Before the Hornets were eliminated from the playoffs, the NBA approved a deal for the team to move to New Orleans following the season. As part of a deal, the NBA promised that Charlotte would receive a new team in time for the 2004–05 season.
Relocation to New Orleans
While the Hornets continued to put a competitive team on the court, the team's attendance fell dramatically. Many attributed this lapse in popularity to the owner George Shinn, who was slowly becoming despised by the people of the city. In 1997, a Charlotte woman claimed that Shinn had raped her, and the resulting trial severely tarnished his reputation in the city. The consensus was that while Charlotte was as basketball-crazy as ever, fans took out their anger at Shinn on the team. Shinn had also become discontented with the Coliseum. Although it had been considered state-of-the-art when it opened, it was now considered obsolete due to a limited number of luxury boxes. On March 26, 2001, both the Hornets and the Vancouver Grizzlies applied for relocation to Memphis, Tennessee. The Grizzlies would eventually get the move. Eventually, Shinn issued an ultimatum: unless the city built a new arena at no cost to him, the Hornets would leave town. The city initially refused, leading Shinn to consider moving the team to either Norfolk, Louisville, St. Louis, or Memphis. Of the cities in the running, only St. Louis was a larger media market than Charlotte at the time; also, it was the only one of the four to have previously had an NBA franchise — the St. Louis Hawks, who moved to Atlanta in 1968.
Finally, a new arena in Uptown, what would eventually become the Charlotte Bobcats Arena, later the Time Warner Cable Arena, was included in a non-binding referendum for a larger arts-related package, and Shinn withdrew his application to move the team. Polls showed the referendum on its way to passage. However, just days before the referendum, Mayor Pat McCrory vetoed a living wage ordinance. The veto prompted many of the city's black ministers to oppose the referendum; they felt it was immoral for the city to build a new arena when city employees weren't paid enough to make a living. After the failed referendum, city leaders devised a plan to build a new arena in a way that did not require voter support, but made it known that they would not even consider building it unless Shinn sold the team. While even the NBA acknowledged that Shinn had alienated fans, league officials felt such a demand would anger other owners. The city council refused to remove the statement, leading the Hornets to request a move to New Orleans. Although New Orleans was a smaller television market, a deal was quickly made to play at the New Orleans Arena, next door to the Louisiana Superdome. Before the Hornets were eliminated from the playoffs, the NBA approved the deal. As part of a deal, the NBA promised that Charlotte would get a new team, which took the court two years later as the Charlotte Bobcats.
In a 2008 interview with the Charlotte Observer, Shinn, who has not returned to Charlotte since the Hornets moved, admitted that the "bad judgment I made in my life" played a role in the Hornets' departure. He also said that if he had it to do all over again, he would not have withdrawn from the public after the sexual assault trial. Shinn emphasized how he was making amends by committing to New Orleans saying, "I've made enough mistakes in my life. I'm not going to make one here. This city needs us here. We're going to make this (New Orleans) thing work."
2002–2005: Early years in New Orleans
The Hornets opened their inaugural season in New Orleans on October 30, 2002, against New Orleans' previous NBA franchise, the Utah Jazz. In the first regular season NBA game played in New Orleans in over 17 years, the Hornets defeated the Jazz 100–75, and posthumously retired #7 of "Pistol" Pete Maravich during halftime. The Hornets finished the season with a 47–35 record but were defeated by Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs. Following the season, the team unexpectedly fired head coach Paul Silas and replaced him with Tim Floyd. The Hornets began the 2003–04 season strong with a 17–7 start but sputtered at the end and finished 41–41. They lost to the Miami Heat in the first round of the 2004 playoffs. After the season, Floyd was fired and the team hired Byron Scott as its new head coach. In a season marred by injury to the team's three all-stars, the team finished the year with a franchise-worst record of 18–64, the franchise's first losing season since the 1991–92 season.
2005–2011: Chris Paul era
Because of the catastrophic devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina upon the communities of southeastern Louisiana, the Hornets franchise temporarily relocated its base of operations to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 2005–06 and 2006–07, posting records of 38–44 and 39–43 respectively. During this time, the franchise was known as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. In these two seasons, most home games were played at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, while a few remained at New Orleans Arena. One year after the Hornets moved back to New Orleans permanently, the Seattle SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City, becoming the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Hornets franchise returned to New Orleans full-time for the 2007–2008 season, with all 41 home games in the New Orleans Arena. The 2008 NBA All-Star Game and its accompanying festivities were awarded to New Orleans and a serious marketing campaign was commenced in February 2007. Healthier than previous seasons, the Hornets raced to a 29–12 record at the halfway mark, completing the regular season with a record of 56–26, making the season their most successful ever. The Hornets also won their first-ever division title, winning the Southwest Division. Having clinched the 2nd overall seed for the Western Conference in the 2008 playoffs, the Hornets beat the Dallas Mavericks in the first round but eventually lost to the defending-champion San Antonio Spurs in seven games in the conference semifinals.
In August 2008 the Hornets unveiled a modified logo and new uniforms with the colors of Creole blue, purple, and Mardi Gras gold, and after six seasons, the pinstripes were reinstated on the uniforms. The Hornets also introduced a yellow uniform in 2010 which is used mostly in games played on Saturday at home and on the road. The Hornets finished the 2008–09 season with a 49–33 record. Paired up with the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs, the Hornets were eliminated in five games. The Hornets started the 2009–10 season in a disappointing fashion, and head coach Byron Scott was fired after a 3–6 start to the season. General manager Jeff Bower took over the head coaching duties for the remainder of the season. The Hornets finished the season with a 37–45 record, finishing last in the Southwest division they had won only two seasons before. Jeff Bower later resigned as head coach, and Monty Williams was brought in as new head coach. The team finished the 2010–11 season with a 46–36 record and qualified for the 2011 NBA Playoffs, where they lost to the Lakers 4–2.
2011–2013: Last years as the Hornets
Before the 2011–12 NBA season the Hornets were considering trade offers for Chris Paul. Paul eventually requested a trade to the New York Knicks. The Hornets looked at many teams including the Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors as trade partners, but Paul had made it clear he would only re-sign with the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers, or the Los Angeles Clippers.
On December 14, 2011, the Hornets agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers that would send Paul to Los Angeles in exchange for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu, and a first-round draft pick acquired by the Clippers from a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2004. At the end of the 2011–12 NBA season, the Hornets had the worst record in the West, 21–45.
On April 13, 2012, it was announced that Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints, had purchased the franchise from the NBA for $338 million. In addition, Benson has announced that he will change the team name to something that would better suit the region, fueling rumors that the Hornets name could one day return to Charlotte, where the Bobcats play. In June 2012, Benson appointed two senior Saints executives to supervise the Hornets as well: Saints general manager Mickey Loomis became head of basketball operations, overseeing general manager Dell Demps, and Saints business operations head Dennis Lauscha took on the same role with the Hornets.
On May 30, 2012, the Hornets were awarded the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and subsequently drafted Anthony Davis. It was the first time since 1991 (when the team was located in Charlotte) that the Hornets won the draft lottery. They also drafted Austin Rivers with the 10th pick (acquired from the Clippers as part of the Chris Paul trade).
2013–present: Reborn as the Pelicans
New owner Tom Benson had indicated early in his ownership that he wished to change the team's name to something more local. He preferred that the Utah Jazz, who had been founded in New Orleans in 1974 and played there until 1979, give up the "Jazz" nickname. However, the Jazz indicated they had no interest in returning the name due to over 30 years of history associated with it. Benson had also heavily favored the names "Brass" and "Krewe."
However, on December 4, 2012, it was reported that the Hornets would change their name to the New Orleans Pelicans beginning with the 2013-2014 season. The team name is inspired by Louisiana's state bird, the Brown Pelican.
The name "Pelicans" previously had been used by a minor-league baseball team that played in New Orleans from 1901 to 1957. The Hornets organization officially confirmed the name change in a press meeting held on January 24, 2013, where officials unveiled the team's new logos and blue-gold-red color scheme. On April 18, 2013, after the end of the team's 2012–2013 season, the team's name was officially changed to the Pelicans.
Following the New Orleans franchise's 2013 disestablishment of the "Hornets" name, on May 21, 2013, Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan officially announced the organization had submitted an application to change the name of his franchise to the Charlotte Hornets for the 2014–2015 NBA season pending a majority vote for approval by the NBA Board of Governors at a meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 18, 2013. NBA Deputy Commissioner and COO Adam Silver had previously pointed out the fact that the league owns the rights to the name Hornets could speed up the process. The NBA unanimously approved the name change starting with 2014-15.
On June 27, 2013, during the 2013 NBA Draft, the Pelicans selected Nerlens Noel 6th overall, and traded him along with a 2014 protected first-round pick for All-Star Point Guard Jrue Holiday of the Philadelphia 76ers and the 42nd pick, Pierre Jackson.
On August 1, 2013, the Pelicans released their new uniforms during an event that Thursday afternoon. NBA teams are not allowed to have alternate uniforms during their first season of operation. They plan to add an alternate for 2014–2015, with another alternate the following season.
New Orleans Pelicans roster
|New Orleans Pelicans retired numbers|
|7||"Pistol" Pete Maravich||G||1974–1979 1|
|13||Bobby Phills||G||1997–2000 2|
- 1 The New Orleans Hornets retired Maravich's number during their first game in New Orleans in honor of his basketball contributions to the area at LSU and with the city's former NBA team, the New Orleans Jazz.
- 2 The Charlotte Hornets retired Phills' number after he was killed in an automobile accident in Charlotte.
Basketball Hall of Famers
- Robert Parish, C, 1994–1996
Franchise awards and honors
Individual awards - Charlotte
- Larry Johnson – 1992
- Dell Curry – 1994
- Glen Rice – 1997
- Bob Bass – 1997
- Larry Johnson – 1993
- Glen Rice – 1997
Individual awards - New Orleans(/Oklahoma City)
- Chris Paul – 2006
- Byron Scott – 2008
- Byron Scott – 2008
- Chris Paul – 2008
- Chris Paul – 2009
- Charlotte Coliseum (1988–2002)
- Smoothie King Center (2002–present), formerly known as New Orleans Arena (2002–2014)
- Other temporary facilities due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina:
Pierre the Pelican is the official mascot for the Pelicans. He was introduced on October 30, 2013, the opening night of regular season for the team at home against the Indiana Pacers. The name for the mascot was selected by the fans through an online poll on the team's website. However, Pierre's unconventional design frightened some fans. The mascot's redesigned head was released on February 11. The Pelicans' former mascot when the organization was formerly the Hornets was Hugo the Hornet who was part of the organization from 1988-2013. Hugo will return as the mascot for the returning Charlotte Hornets starting the 2014-2015 season.
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