While their nickname doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of opponents, the New Orleans Pelicans have compensated by trotting out some absolutely frightening mascots. “King Cake Baby,” a staple in Crescent City during Mardi Gras parades, was such a jarring sight that he was relegated to part-time duty, while Pierre T. Pelican was so fierce looking that he required a redesign. It should be pointed out that it’s visitors who are awestruck by these larger-than-life creatures. In NOLA, folks have rallied behind them because they want to let the rest of the league know just how thrilled they are to have an NBA team of their very own.
In 2002, pro hoops arrived in New Orleans when the Hornets franchise left their old hive of Charlotte in favor of a fresh start in the Big Easy. While the club would qualify for the Eastern Conference playoffs in ‘02-03 and ‘03-04, it wasn’t “easy” to be a fan in ‘04-05, as the team switched conferences and limped to a mere 18 victories. However, hope for the future arrived at the NBA Draft that summer, when the franchise selected point guard Chris Paul. The league Rookie of the Year in ‘05-06, “CP3” emerged as one of the game’s brightest stars in ‘07-08 en route to earning both All-Defensive and All-NBA honors. Most importantly, Paul was winning games for NOLA, and the club returned to the postseason during his MVP-caliber campaign.
“CP3” led the league in both steals and assists during the ‘08-09 crusade, and the Hornets punched their ticket for another playoff berth. He continued to rack up All-Star selections, but ultimately, he would lead the Hornets on only one more title quest before being dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers in ‘11. The following season was difficult for fans to get through, as the club won only 21 games, but the silver lining to the dip in success was the #1 overall selection at the 2012 draft. With the top pick, the franchise took shot-blocking phenom Anthony Davis from the University of Kentucky, and once again, the team had a national attraction.
Davis proved to be just as good as (if not better than) advertised, and the club started winning games. Fans in Houston may flip for “The Beard,” but folks in New Orleans have gone absolutely wild for “The Brow.” In his third season, “The Brow” averaged 24.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game, and powered the team back to the postseason. Davis' ascent paired nicely with the franchise’s new moniker, as the Pelicans nickname was introduced prior to the ‘13-14 campaign.
It’s hard to say with a straight face, but Smoothie King Center is one of the toughest places to play in the entire league. Fans in New Orleans know what it takes to win a Super Bowl, and they’ve gladly directed that the energy and enthusiasm toward their hoops crew. As they say down here, Geaux Pelicans!