‘Simplicity’ marks Pelicans’ new uniforms

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ -- The New Orleans Pelicans debuted their new uniforms in their gym at 5800 Airline Highway on Thursday. Jrue Holiday shows off his new uniform to media and children attending the event.
Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ -- The New Orleans Pelicans debuted their new uniforms in their gym at 5800 Airline Highway on Thursday. Jrue Holiday shows off his new uniform to media and children attending the event.

The first thing that struck New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis about the team’s new uniforms were the colors.

Davis had seen the dark blue, red and gold when the logo was unveiled during the season.

“There was a lot of hype behind them, so I expected something awesome, and they met my standards,” he said. “The colors are great, and I have a lot of shoes to go with it — if coach Monty (Williams) approves.”

Davis noticed something else that gave the uniforms a special feel.

“I like that it has ‘New Orleans’ on it both home and away (jerseys),” he said. “That’s a unique thing for us.”

That, the classic look and the blue-and-white prominent colors no doubt reminded Davis somewhat of the classic uniforms of the University of Kentucky. Davis, who helped UK to the national championship in 2012 as a freshman, mused about that.

The Pelicans’ are one of only three NBA uniforms with the city’s name on both the home and road uniforms; the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets are the others.

Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps, who said he saw the uniforms for the first time Wednesday night, said he likes their elegance.

“It has simplicity, but it has a classiness,” he said.

The Pelicans finally unveiled their new duds Thursday at the team’s new practice facility in Metairie, one of the final parts of the team’s rebranding under new owner Tom Benson. (Still to come: new identities for the Honeybee dancers and the mascot formerly known as Hugo.) Davis, center/power forward Jason Smith, forward Ryan Anderson and point guard Jrue Holiday modeled the new look.

The home uniforms, of course, are white, and the road ones are dark blue. For now, the Pelicans will only wear those two sets; the NBA forbids a third (or alternate) uniform in the first season of a redesign.

“New Orleans” is emblazoned across the chest in lettering inspired by the street signs of New Orleans — just like the logo developed by designer Rodney Richardson of Hattiesburg, Miss.

What grabs the eye are the side panels, which are mostly gold — no doubt a nod to the Saints, as Benson owns both teams. The side panel comes to an arrow shape as it nears the underarm area. It is unique compared to other uniforms in the NBA.

“That design is actually the shape of the pelican’s beak,” Richardson said. “It’s the beak upside-down. Then, as it goes down, it becomes a place for the secondary logo to rest.”

There also is a partial logo featured on the side of the shorts, and the Pelican “Bird-de-Lis” is on the top back of the jersey. Right under the center of the waistband on the shorts are the letters “N” and “O,” shaped to look like a basketball. That logo, the team said, will be prominent in branding.

In large part because of the “N-and-O” basketball and the partial logo on the side, Richardson is particularly proud of the shorts.

“That’s a very unique short — very iconic short from what you see around the NBA,” he said.

The uniforms have gone through a one-year process, Richardson said. After a logo was developed that Benson liked, it was submitted to adidas, which makes the team’s uniforms. That began a months-long process with the league that was completed a few months ago, Richardson said.

“We wanted to pull out some of New Orleans’ unique characteristics without making the uniform a caricature of it,” said Richardson, who worked for Nike in the mid-to-late 1990s and helped develop or tweak many of the NBA’s uniforms, most notably the Memphis Grizzlies.

Benson said the uniforms and nearly complete practice facility should inspire a championship squad.

“There’s no reason we can’t bring home a championship,” he said.

Anderson wouldn’t go that far yet. But the changes, most notably to the team’s roster, have him excited, too. Last year, the team — then known as the Hornets — went 27-55.

“These uniforms are just awesome,” he said. “I just love all the new changes, the new feel. We have a lot of new players. There’s no way we shouldn’t make the playoffs.”