Like the killer flocks in Hitchcock's classic The Birds, pelicans have descended on the city of New Orleans. They've blocked out the sun. They've incited terror. And they're making a lot of people mad on the Internet.
The New Orleans Hornets will be changing their name to the New Orleans Pelicans before the beginning of next season. "Hornets" was a name inherited from Charlotte, from whence the franchise fled after the 2002 season, and the New Orleans Hornets have never really caught on as a franchise — even during Chris Paul's heyday in the late 2000s, the Hornets rarely left the bottom-third of the league in terms of attendance. And the obvious re-labels for a New Orleans team would be music-related, but Utah retains the "Jazz" moniker it got when the previous New Orleans hoops squad moved there in 1979, despite the fact that there have only been five recorded instances of people playing, or even listening to, jazz music in Utah history. So New Orleans has to look elsewhere for inspiration.
Enter pelicans, flying in squadrons, because that's what flocks of pelicans are called, which of course you knew. A lot of initial reaction to the team's announcement has been incredulous, probably because Pelicans are a little goofy-looking.
But there's so much more going on here.
Pelicans are super cool birds.
Not all sports teams need to be named, like, the Alabamazona WolfGunOwners; the ideal athlete is strong and dominant, of course, but also cool and charming. There's room for whimsy in sports; think of Jordan's tongue, or his shrug, or Clyde Frazier. And Pelicans are mad whimsical. They have massive beaks with pouches designed for catching fish; they're huge and gangly; and when they fly, they look like a fat man strapped to a pair of rocket wings.
Pelicans are very aggressive birds.
That said, sports should still be badass, and birds are underrated in terms of animal badassery. Hitchcock proved this to perfection; Edgar Allen Poe knew it; Angry Birds has based a powerhouse mobile-gaming-and-kitschy-pillows franchise on it. Just watch this video.
And pelicans have regional significance.
We already covered why the Jazz and the Saints actually make sense for a team in New Orleans. Believe it or not, pelicans do too. New Orleans is a coastal city, the coast being where pelicans dwell, and in the early-to-middle part of the 20th century there actually used to be a minor-league baseball team called the New Orleans Pelicans, which disappeared with the folding of the Southern Association
Just look at these cool Pelicans:
So, get excited for the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013-14. You'll be able to find me at all home games, pulling for the other team with this demoralizing cheer:
"PELICAN? MORE LIKE PELI-CAN'T."