New Orleans Hornets to become Pelicans, really?

New Orleans Pelicans


Finally, the ferocious pelican gets the chance to flex its mighty wings and flap its pointy, pouchy beak to intimidate opponents on the court.  Reports indicate that the New Orleans Hornets will be changing their name as early as the 2012-2013 season to the Pelicans.

No, this isn’t a joke, although I am certain Seth Myers and the Saturday Night Live crew are pleased to be served up new fodder for their punch lines on the Weekend Update.

What would possess Tom Benson, who purchased the team on April 14, to select the Pelican as a new team name?  Perhaps the fact that Benson, who also owns the New Orleans Saints of the NFL, owns the rights to using ‘pelicans’ as a team nickname.New Orleans Pelicans

Historically, the New Orleans Pelicans were a minor league baseball team with roots all the way back to 1887.  The team played professionally most every year through the 1959 season when it was sold to Little Rock.  The New Orleans Pelicans were revived briefly during the 1977 minor league season, when Tony La Russa was shortstop for the Trplie-A team.  The Pelicans won a total of 10 minor league titles, including the 1910 title when they were led by a soon-to-be-famous slugger named Shoeless Joe Jackson.

The history is ‘nice’ but couldn’t New Orleans come up with a more powerful nickname?  Imagine the opportunity to set the course for branding of a major sport franchise.  There are thousands of options, yet Benson is reportedly going with the Pelicans?  Pelicans don’t strike fear in the hearts of anyone, except possibly some fish swimming too near the surface.  They aren’t graceful, they aren’t ferocious, they aren’t even cool or trendy or hip.  In fact they’re downright awkward with those huge beaks.

I can’t imagine too many free agents excited about becoming a pelican.  It’s hard to think of what a cool pelican logo might even look like.  Fans shouting, ‘Let’s go Pelicans!’ from the stands?  All of this is a bit difficult to believe.  Then again, I don’t have a zillion dollars to invest in professional sports franchises, so what do I know?

What are your thoughts?  Do you like the Pelican? What would you suggest for a New Orleans nickname?  Leave your comments below, maybe Benson will get the idea.

5 teams on the rise this NBA season


Anthony Davis

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The NBA offseason has been filled with numerous trades, draft picks and signings, but which teams are poised to make the best improvements this season? Some teams have made themselves legitimate contenders and some are just trying to play meaningful games in April and further on. Here are five NBA teams who are ready to make a big impact, or in some cases any impact this season.

New Orleans Hornets (21-45 Last Year)

New Orleans struggled mightily last year as their star player Eric Gordon only played nine games. Once he went down things began to get ugly. The Hornets had an abysmal year after Chris Paul was traded away. Brighter days are ahead though, due to some lucky ping-pong balls the Hornets landed Anthony Davis and also drafted Austin Rivers. With New Orleans matching the offer to Gordon the team has the most promising core in the NBA. With this year being the first year that this core is together do not expect a playoff berth, but do expect them to be this seasons must watch on League Pass.

Toronto Raptors (23-43 Last Year)

Canada’s only basketball teams took some steps this summer to become a playoff team. The Raptors took a heavy swing at Steve Nash and missed. Landry Fields will be playing his first season under his very large contract and should make an impact. This year the Raptors took a surprising pick in Terrence Ross, who I believe will be amazing for this franchise. The biggest impact in Jonas Valanciunas, the 5th pick in last year’s draft. The Raptors are hoping this guy will live up to his potential this season. With high-flyer Demar DeRozan and excellent point guard in Kyle Lowry, the Toronto Raptors are looking to make the playoffs for the first time in 4 years.

Minnesota Timberwolves (26-40 Last Year)

This team is ready to become great. Kahn has made some nice moves this summer to make a scary looking young team. Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love were lighting it up while the Wolves still couldn’t sniff a playoff berth. Summer signings in Brandon Roy, the Russian duo of Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved, and signing a  backup big man Greg Stiemsma  will make this team a lot more deeper. If Ricky Rubio can pick up where he left off and Brandon Roy can become his old self again, the Timberwolves will have no need to watch the 2013 draft lottery and will be ready to make some noise late in the season.

Golden State Warriors (23-43 Last Year)

Mark Jackson said the Warriors were going to make the playoffs last year, he should’ve waited a season to say that because this year’s team is more talented and deeper than last season. Andrew Bogut is a top 5 center in the league, with health pending. The Warriors do not have a star-studded team that is necessary to win in this lopsided NBA, but they have a deep enough team and amazing team chemistry to make the playoffs this year. You never know, maybe Golden State could pull off what they did in 2007 and get to the 2nd round. They have the tools to do so. Lots of questions can be asked about the Warriors but I think the two young men Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes will be hungry to help Golden State make the postseason.

Brooklyn Nets (22-44 Last Year)

This team is looking to make a giant step forward this season. The move to Brooklyn and the fact the Deron Williams did not move franchises over the offseason was a vital step. Pair one of the best point guards in the league with a prolific scorer in Joe Johnson and a solid front court player in Brook Lopez the new look Nets should see a vast improvement compared to finishing 22 games under .500 and causing some problems in the playoffs and have at least a fourth seed.

Morgan Grimmett is an NBA writer for The Sports Blitz and can be contacted at

NBA Mock Draft (Part I)

Anthony Davis

With the NBA Draft only hours away, I figured I may as well present only ONE mock draft of the 1st round. Last year, my 2011 NBA mock drafts did not pan out as well as I would have hoped. Regardless of my poor NBA mock draft history, I have listed why each of these picks for each team would make sense. I am posting this on behalf of the current draft order as of 6 P.M. on Wednesday night, 24 hours before the 2012 NBA Draft.

Therefore, here are my first 15 mock draft selections for Thursday’s NBA Draft, enjoy!

1. New Orleans Hornets: PF Anthony Davis, Kentucky

Do I really have to talk about how Davis was named SEC Player of the Year or won the Wooden Award? Or should I talk about how he became the first Kentucky basketball player EVER to win the Naismith Award while winning a National Championship in his lone collegiate season? Point is, the guy is clearly the best player in the 2012 NBA Draft. If the Hornets can re-sign shooting guard Eric Gordon, these two could become a nice tandem down in New Orleans.  Read More…

NBA mock draft: 2012 1st round

Anthony Davis1. New Orleans Hornets- Anthony Davis PF (Kentucky): This is a no-brainer. It wasn’t a question of if Davis would be the first pick but who would get the lucky ping-pong ball to draft him. The Hornets will begin their rebuild with Davis, a future all-star, because of his defensive skills alone. If Davis continues to work on his mid-range jump shot and develop a post game…he could turn into a superstar.

2. Charlotte Bobcats- Thomas Robinson PF (Kansas): Although we have doubts on Robinson’s size, (6’8.75” with shoes) his heart, tenacity and strength will make him a good player. It is unlikely Robinson will be a bust but he isn’t the kind of player you build around. Barnes or Beal would be better picks here because of their ability to score. The Bobcats struggled mightily scoring last season. Also, look for the Bobcats to possibly trade out of this spot for more assets.

3. Washington Wizards- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist SG (Kentucky): Kidd-Gilchrist is a great talent but is inconsistent shooting the basketball. He is a fiery competitor and is excellent on the fast break however. He and John Wall would make an exciting backcourt.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers- Harrison Barnes SF (North Carolina): When the Cavs had the 1st and 4th picks last year, they were disappointed that Barnes had decided to stay another year. Well, there’s a very good chance he’ll be there this year for them at number four. Barnes is a great shooter and has even more talent than he showed in college. He might not be the next Kobe but I think he’s a rich man’s Danny Granger, and that’s a pretty good player to pair with Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. Watch out for the Cavs in a few years, they seem to be on the verge of a Thunder-like rise.

5. Sacramento Kings- Andre Drummond C (Connecticut): The Kings apparently would like to trade back from this spot. If they stay, there are a lot of directions they could go. Despite the pick of Jimmer Fredette last season, they need a true point guard. Tyreke Evans is on the block. Marcus Thornton is producing at shooting guard and will be a King for five more years. So, the guard situation is a little messy for the Kings right now. Lillard would be a nice fit but I think they go for Drummond if he’s there. Drummond and Cousins would be dangerous together given their character issues. However, if both discover their potential (Cousins is well on his way) that could be a lethal duo. Read more here…

Will Anthony Davis be New Orleans’ Savior?

Anthony DavisNew Orleans as a city has experienced so many hardships ranging from natural disasters to sinking in the pits from the Bounty Gate scandal with the New Orleans Saints. I’m sure that is purely coincidental but the Hornets happen to beat out the NBA’s worst Charlotte Bobcats for the number one overall pick. Call it luck, fate, cheating it doesn’t matter…

It’s no secret that with the top overall NBA draft pick, the New Orleans Hornets will select Anthony Davis from the Kentucky Wildcats. Anthony Davis will bring his 14 points 10 rebounds four blocks and two steals to this team, that is in desperate need of his services. This kid has an amazing amount of potential and the ceiling for him could very well be high. When you think about it however, being only 19 years of age, he has a tremendous amount of pressure on him. Read more here…

Should Brittney Griner be drafted by the NBA instead of the WNBA?

Brittney GrinerBrittney Griner of Baylor University could be the first female to make an NBA roster. Only a junior, Griner would have to declare for the draft, but would an NBA team like the Sacramento Kings or New Orleans Hornets select her?

If she declares, this will be big news and more than likely, a team would go for her late in the second round just for publicity sakes.

The suggestion of her making it to the ‘Association’ has been asked before, but the topic deserves a refresh.

She’s 6 foot 8 inches tall with a wing span of 86 inches. The most impressive aspect of her athletic sculpture is her leanness. She looks like she has the potential for a silky, smooth player with her rail figure and long arms.

In the women’s game, she has an imposing presence. She needs to use her presence to take care of business this year. She can quiet more critics by leading her Baylor Bears to a national championship.

Of course her length is intimidating in the women’s game, but it won’t hold too much weight in the men’s game. She would be a ‘Project’ of sorts for an NBA team.

They’ll have to work her out and figure out how to play her. She may not be tall enough for the power forward position.

Can she adapt her game for a swingwoman small forward position? This looks to be the biggest challenge. She may not have enough game for this position.

She gets up off the ground pretty good, but not like a guy can. This is the difference in men and women athletes. The muscle to fat ratio she does better than average in comparing a female athlete to a male athlete, but the dynamic muscle and fast-twitch muscles for her are slower and not as strong.

If the first woman is not Griner, than what will the first woman look like or will a woman never make an NBA roster?

Could a speedy woman point guard make it, or will the size of her hands always be an issue? The women use a smaller diameter ball in college and in the pros.

Griner’s hands are plenty big enough. She has dunked in a game before and it was the real kind, not the one in which the ball is rattled in. Also, she is an aggressive player, not afraid of challenges. She’s had her share of controversy, including punching an opposing player.

In the NFL, some have projected a woman could possibly be a field goal kicker. This idea has part of its roots from an old ’90’s football comedic movie, Necessary Roughness, where Kathy Ireland plays the kicker on a fable college team.

Then, there is the goalie position in pro Ice Hockey to think about. This has its precedent with minor league teams that employed female goaltender, Manon Rhéaume, for more than 20 games. She had signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but never played at the NHL level.

Other notable current and former college and pro women basketball players have either been bantied about as potential NBA hoopsters or have even had tryouts. Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore have been mentioned as potential candidates. Ann Meyers once had a tryout with the Indiana Pacers, but no woman has gotten playing time.

Griner may get the playing time. She could get a bigger contract to play 12th man or wo-man for an NBA team than she could in the WNBA. And, she can always get to the WNBA later on.

So, which team could take a chance on her?

Most likely, the only team owned by the NBA, the New Orleans Hornets.

She goes to Baylor University and is from Houston, both close enough to New Orleans to get added interest from basketball fans in the area.

Ultimately, she’d end up becoming a publicity stunt, but with good intentions. Her game can improve and she can move forward to the WNBA more prepared to dominate.

The debate would continue, but in a different way. Will any Woman ever start and/or play major minutes on a competing team?…or something to that effect.

Be sure to check out other great articles at

NBA should be talking contraction; The first five teams to go

Josh Smith

Josh Smith

The NBA isn’t losing money, but NBA franchises such as the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers are.

Fans and media alike are complaining the game is watered down and NBA Commissioner David Stern has said contraction, which would eliminate at least one struggling franchise, should be on the table.

Last season league-wide losses hit the $350 million dollar mark and the NBA’s overall revenue is threatened each game by its weakest franchise.

With NBA players joining forces and making super teams, the NBA’s timing of contraction talk could be just smoke screens and mirrors to scare owners who are not pulling in a profit. But if it becomes a reality, these are five cities that could be out of an NBA franchise.

Atlanta Hawks
One figures if you make the playoffs four consecutive years in a row it might bring the fans to the arena….think again.
The Hawks have called Atlanta home since 1968 and even though they have playoff appearances, victory’s and a solid roster they still finished 22nd in overall attendance.
The ownership overvalued their assets and knowingly went over their budget. They handed out huge contracts after advancing in the playoffs but still weren’t even filling the seats in the area with those players.
California developer and pizza chain owner Alex Meruelo was to buy the Hawks but an investigation into his financial records put an end to his dream to be the first NBA Hispanic owner.
Instead, the group known as Atlanta Spirit remains in charge of the team it has owned since 2004, when it acquired the Hawks and the Thrashers of the NHL from Time Warner.

The Thrashers are now in Winnipeg playing as the Jets.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings have been in Sacramento for 27 years and now have turned into the Brett Favre of the NBA

Once ready to pack up and leave for Anaheim to become the Royals the Kings minority owner George Maloof Jr. changed his mind.

The Kings long-term future in Sacramento remains uncertain beyond 2011-12, the L.A. Times reported, citing league executives.

Co-owner Joe Maloof says his family is still deciding whether to move the franchise to Anaheim or stay in California’s capital city.

Maloof told The Associated Press  that no decision has been made and he’s “as anxious as anybody” to find out if Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson can deliver on his promise for more sponsorship support and finally finance a plan for a new arena.

Let’s not rule out Las Vegas either as the Maloof brothers also own the Palms Casino and have major ties to the valley.

Indiana Pacers

Conseco Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis is losing that name more than a year after the namesake company dropped its use.

Executives of the Indiana Pacers and Carmel-based CNO Financial Group announced in 2011 that the arena will now be known as Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

It doesn’t matter what the name of the stadium is because the Pacers have lost money in 27 of the last 29 years of existence.

That also includes 11 of the last 12 seasons inside Conseco Fieldhouse. The Pacers are currently losing more than $6 million annually.

New Orleans Hornets

The Hornets were 26th in attendance per game last season only averaging 14,709 per night.

Since the NBA took over and the eventual loss of Chris Paul, it is going to take a number of moves to make this team a contender.

The Hornets, a playoff representative in the 2010-2011 season should never be at the bottom of attendance numbers.

The New Orleans economy is still trying to recover from the economic situation that were placed on them by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The city isn’t ready to support a football and basketball franchise.

Charlotte Bobcats

Even the great Michael Jordan can’t save the Charlotte Bobcats. Seven years ago, Robert L. Johnson paid an expansion fee of $300 million dollars to purchase the Bobcats. Two seasons ago, Jordan purchased the Bobcats for $175 million. Charlotte has already lost one NBA franchise; the Hornets left following the 2002 season. The Bobcats ranked 21st in attendance last season.

Charlotte is one of the league’s smallest markets and even when clinching a playoff berth in the 2009-2010 season they were 26th in attendance.