NEW ORLEANS — Poor Hugo the Hornet.
Ten years of taking one for the team by being confident in his manhood despite wearing teal tights, by this time next year he’s going to be out of job.
At least that’s what will happen to the Hornets mascot, if Tom Benson changes his NBA franchise’s nickname to Pelicans.
Hugo, who doesn’t speak in abiding by the rules of being a mascot, looked a little dejected at the idea of his pending unemployment Wednesday night, although he indicated he’d be willing to give it a go as a throat pouched water bird if the opportunity arises.
For certain, Hornets is on the way out.
In order to give his team a Louisiana identity, Benson reportedly wants to switch to Pelicans. Additionally, Gayle Benson is on record as saying she wants to change the colors to navy blue, red and gold.
And if Mrs. Benson, desires to redecorate everything from the color scheme of the New Orleans Arena on down, Mr. Benson is probably going to go along.
“You’ve gotta listen to the wife,” season ticket holder Larry Panna said before Wednesday’s game against the Los Angles Lakers, adding that he likes the proposed colors.
The nickname, not so much.
“It’s not strong enough,” he said. “I saw one design, and the bird looks like it’s floating above a big egg or something.”
Season ticket holder Antonia Thornton also is thumbs down on Pelicans.
“The Hornets have never done that well, so we need something fresh,” she said. “But we need something aggressive. All pelicans do is eat fish.”
Panna’s choice for a name change is Energy, a tribute to the state’s oil and gas industries. Not bad.
Thornton likes Pirates, or Buccaneers, the city’s old ABA franchise’s name.
Jazz is unavailable. Utah isn’t giving that back. Krewe is too obscure for the rest of the country.
Judging from the preponderance of Lakers gear Wednesday, most fans don’t care.
Hornets guard Roger Mason said it doesn’t matter that much.
“We represent New Orleans, the city and the culture,” he said. “At the end of the day, if it’s Pelicans, Hornets whatever it is, it’s representing the city that matters.
“You put a team out there that New Orleans is proud of, and people will like it no matter what it is.”
Besides, the pelican is not only the official state bird, but its likeness is on the state flag and used to be on license plates.
It was the name of the state’s first pro sports franchise, a baseball team founded in 1887.
No less than 68 businesses in the New Orleans area are named Pelican something or other, 69 if you count Pelican Homestead, which closed its doors 20 years ago.
So maybe Pelicans would fill the bill. But please, don’t fire Hugo.