NEW ORLEANS — This much you should know – NBA commissioner David Stern isn’t in the business of suggesting mascot changes.
But he does know someone who could help make the process go.
“There are lots of things that have to be filed,” Stern said Wednesday while at the New Orleans Arena. “I do know the Hornets filed to protect five names and they have to apply to us. They have to pay certain fees. But I think the Hornets may have a friend in the league office that might help expedite the process when they decide on a name."
That cat is apparently out of the bag, with Yahoo! Sports reporting Tuesday that team owner Tom Benson has settled on Pelicans.
That’s a name the commissioner, the same one who signed off Benson’s ownership this past spring, is fine with signing off on. Then again, he’s not exactly upset with any of the names in the league.
Stern and Benson have gotten along well since the purchase went through. Earlier in the day Wednesday, Stern visited the Saints' practice facility in Metairie and saw that work already is started on building offices for the Hornets there. Stern all but said he would be willing to help the name-change process get through smoothly.
As for the mascot name, he pointed out at least there are Pelicans in Louisiana.
“Have you seen any lakes in Los Angeles?” Stern asked. “There is the same amount of lakes in Los Angeles as there is jazz in Utah or grizzlies in Memphis. I’m out of that business. Whatever works for the team works for me.”
When asked if Charlotte could recycle the name Hornets once New Orleans discarded it, Stern said absolutely.
“I’m very deferential to teams, as you know,” Stern said. “If Charlotte wanted to ultimately change their name back to the Hornets that would be OK with me.”