Utah Jazz go on the road to face the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night. It’s great that the New Orleans franchise re-branded and changed their name to the Pelicans a few years ago. A pelican is the official state bird of Louisiana, so it makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is why Utah never re-branded when moving to Utah? Jazz is synonymous with New Orleans!
From 1974-1979 the New Orleans Jazz existed in the NBA. Upon their admittance to the league as an expansion team, one of the first things the team did was trade two future first round picks for former LSU star and now NBA Hall of Famer Pete Maravich. Jazz didn’t have luck with first round picks – in 1977 they made a trade with the Lakers to acquire Gail Goodrich. Two years later, that pick turned into #1 and the Lakers took Magic Johnson. In 1979, with a dismal financial situation, the franchise decided Salt Lake City was the most viable location to move the franchise from. Of course, they kept the famed New Orleans name.
In five seasons of existence, the New Orleans Jazz never made the playoffs and never had a winning record. Their average record was 32-50
New Orleans wouldn’t get an NBA team back until 2002. The Charlotte Hornets, who played in Charlotte from 1988-2002, relocated to NOLA. Ironically, their first game as a re-branded franchise was against the Utah Jazz. Controvsies with the owners and poor judgment by the NBA led to the relocation decision. Two years after losing the Hornets, the NBA created an expansion team in Charlotte, known then as the Bobcats.
In 2014, the NBA and teams’ respective owners worked out a deal that re-branded the Charlotte franchise from the Bobcats to the Hornets, and the New Orleans franchise from the Hornets to the Pelicans. As the Hornets, New Orleans made 5 playoff appearances, winning just one series (2008). As the Pelicans, they have made just 2 playoff appearances in 5 years, winning their first series last season by sweeping the third seeded Blazers. The franchise has never made it out of the second round of the playoffs.
The Pelicans enter Saturday night 4-0 with MVP candidate Anthny Davis averaging 27 ppg and 13 rpg. The Jazz come in at 2-2.