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NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans changing its NBA nickname from Hornets to Pelicans was not a secret.

But the logo and color scheme was, until today. New Orleans on Thursday officially unveiled its new nickname, logo and color scheme, capturing the essence of New Orleans and the Gulf.

The pelican, Louisiana's state bird, symbolizes the city and region's return from the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina and reminds fans of two major issues: coastal restoration and wildlife conservation.

The logo depicts a menacing pelican, wings spread, with a basketball under its beak, a fleur de lis and a font reminiscent of the Crescent City. The new colors are blue, red and gold.

The team will remain the Hornets for the rest of this season and will become the Pelicans after the season. The team's new uniforms will be unveiled at another time.

When New Orleans owner Tom Benson, who also owns the NFL's Saints, bought the team from the NBA in April, the New Orleans native indicated a name change was forthcoming.

"It was a priority to change the name to reflect our culture, our community and our resolve. The Pelican does that," Benson said in a statement. "Our region has been hard hit in recent years and the one thing that stands out is the resiliency and determination to comeback, to fight and overcome. The Pelican symbolizes that.

"The synergy of this name, this bird and the future of our state and region are intertwined and in three, five, ten years from now, it will be not only be a name of a sports franchise but it will also be the face of the continued recovery of our region. We will promote healthy habitats, not only for our youth but for our community, our coast and our wildlife. The Pelican name will do that. It is more than a name. It represents our way of life."

In December, NBA Commissioner David Stern said, ""If it works for them, it works for me," Stern said. "I don't have any objections to anything that the Hornets want to do name-wise because I'm sure it'll be sensible. ... I'm sure whatever it is, it'll be good. If (Pelicans) is what it is, that's fine. ... I think everything sounds good. I think Lakers, have you seen any lakes in Los Angeles? There's the same amount of lakes in L.A. as there is jazz in Utah, or grizzlies in Memphis. I'm out of that business. Whatever works for a team works for me."

It is just the second time in NBA history a team changed its name without relocating. Washington went from Bullets to Wizards after the 1996-97 season.

A limited supply of Pelicans merchandise is available at the team store at New Orleans Arena and online at www.hornetsonline.com.

When the Hornets moved from Charlotte to New Orleans, it kept the nickname. Now that Hornets will be free after this season, Charlotte will consider changing its name from Bobcats back to Hornets.

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