BATON ROUGE,LA — New Orleans Pelicans forward-center Jason Smith said he’s ready to put on his blue, red, and gold for his first season as a Pelican.
“As we go on with the Pelicans as you say it more and more and you see the logo and every thing it's a new and fresh start,” Smith described.
Smith has spent the last few months getting used to his new team name, and sometimes he still introduces himself as a Hornet. He said when he first found out the team's new name he was shocked. Now he loves it.
“It was very surprising name for me. But, after realizing what the name meant to the city and the state as a whole, I think it is a very fitting name.
The Pelicans get their name after the state bird. The idea is to symbolize the state’s need to protect the Gulf Coast. Pelicans are also fast agile and determined to survive.
He said the pelican is still a pretty fierce mascot.
“I have to say the logo [is what makes the mascot fierce]. With the pelican having the red eyes it gives it a fierce combative look,” Smith described.
Smith explained when his friends around the league learned of this teams new name they gave him a little flack.
“The people around the league, yes, there has kind of been a buzz about that. It’s just like Seattle going to Oklahoma City. It’s just a new name. People will eventually grasp it, and they will love it,” Smith said.
The team finished 27-55 last season. Smith says the team was young. Now they’re ready to hit the gym, and hopefully score a playoff position next year.
“It’s just a year of improvement. [Now his younger teammates] have a year of experience under their belt. Now we really need to put in the work this summer. Coach Williams always preaches with hard work and determination you will always get where you want to go,” Smith exclaimed.
Smith was injured last season. He said he is recovering well from his shoulder surgery in March. He hopes to be back on the court soon.