The New Orleans Pelicans (often referred to as the Pels) are an American professional basketball team based in New Orleans. The Pelicans compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league's Western Conference Southwest Division and play their home games at the Smoothie King Center. The NBA considers New Orleans an expansion team that began play in the 2002–03 season.
The Pelicans were established as the New Orleans Hornets in the 2002–03 season when George Shinn, then owner of the Charlotte Hornets, relocated the franchise to New Orleans. Due to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the team temporarily relocated to Oklahoma City, where they spent two seasons as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets before returning to New Orleans for the 2007–08 season. In 2013, the Hornets announced that they would change their name to the New Orleans Pelicans after the 2012–13 season.
In 18 seasons of play since the original franchise relocated from Charlotte, the New Orleans franchise has achieved an overall regular season record of 740–864 (.461) and qualified for the playoffs eight times. Their achievements include two playoff series victories and one division title.
New Orleans had been a founding member of the ABA with the New Orleans Buccaneers (1967–1970), but the lack of a dedicated arena and a poor performance record led the team to relocate to Memphis. The city acquired an NBA expansion franchise in June 1974: the New Orleans Jazz (as a tribute to New Orleans' history of originating jazz music). The team faced a number of the same logistical and financial woes, and relocated to Salt Lake City in 1979–80. One of the few bright spots during the Jazz's tenure in New Orleans was the acquisition of "Pistol" Pete Maravich (who had played college basketball at LSU). Although he was considered one of the most entertaining players in the league and won the scoring championship for the 1976–77 season with 31.1 points per game, the Jazz's best record while in New Orleans was 39–43 in the 1977–78 season.