Hornets to Pelicans, Bobcats to Hornets ... and the tale of how the Nets almost became the Swamp Dragons

US Patent and Trademark Office

Name changes are kind of rare in the NBA. New Orleans Jazz move to Salt Lake City and stay the Utah Jazz, although it seems, well, weird. The Vancouver Grizzlies move to Memphis and stay the Grizzlies, although no grizzly bears are visible on Beale Street. Less weird, the New Jersey Nets become the Brooklyn Nets. Jazz may sound different in SLC and bears don't roam Memphis but a net is a net no matter where it hangs.

Tuesday, however, there was word that the New Orleans Hornets, once the Charlotte Hornets, may be changing their name to the New Orleans Pelicans, in honor of the Louisiana state bird. (Are Hornets the state insect? Guess not.) Nets players think it's a bad idea. But the wheels are turning and it's entirely possible that the Bobcats, an expansion team that replaced the Hornets in Charlotte, might re-adopt the Hornets now that the New Orleans ownership is giving it up.

That gives us a chance to go back, back, back into Nets history. A similar name change almost happened in 1994, when the famed ownership group, the Secaucus Seven, wanted to dump the bad vibes associated with the Nets and rename the team the Swamp Dragons! Cool? No. The team was already well associated with the Meadowlands, a high falutin term for a swamp, which is not a very dashing place to call home.

As Nets beat writer in 2012, Andy Vasquez wrote about the plan, noting that the change had already cleared the NBA's executive committee and was put to a vote by the board of governors. One problem, one of the Seven, David Gerstein, was the Nets' rep to the board of governors that, got cold feet and voted against the plan ... the only one of 27 owners who objected. Plan died. Dodged a bullet that day! Oh wait, that's another story.

What few people know is just how far the plan had gone. Several Swamp Dragon logos had been trademarked by the league and would have been the basis for the team's new uniforms. Here's your mascot. the main logo and central element of the uniform design, a secondary logo, and a design element for the uniform shorts. All remain the property of the NBA. Maybe if New Jersey gets a team to replace the Nets...

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