Utah Jazz notebook: Could it be the Utah Saints and the New Orleans Jazz?
NEW ORLEANS — The NBA's newest owner has a Jazz-related agenda item on his list of things to do.
Saints owner Tom Benson bought New Orleans' pro basketball team from the league, it was announced Friday.
That doesn't mean the Hornets will stick around in the Big Easy.
Benson wants the Jazz — the name, at least — to return to its original home.
Or at least something similar and more NOLAesque than the current name of the team in town.
Utah jazzed up the Wasatch Front sports scene in 1979 by bringing an NBA team from New Orleans and keeping the Bayou-flavored name, colors and logo.
Ask almost anyone in New Orleans, and they'll quickly tell you they want the Jazz back. Including Benson.
"We need to find a name like (Jazz)," Benson told reporters Friday. "Whether we can get that or let us use that, you've got to know we're working on it. We'd like to change it tomorrow."
Don't expect to see the New Orleans Jazz any time soon.
The Jazz have become pretty darned fond of that nickname over the past 33 years. (Team president Randy Rigby did not respond to a request for a comment on whether the Jazz would listen to name-changing offers.)
Even so, Benson hopes to find something jazzier than Hornets.
"We have not gotten that approved, but we're not letting up on it, either," he said. "Because we've got a good relationship with the commissioner (David Stern) and his people and we're going to be on them daily to do something."
If nothing else, an improbable name switch — Salt Lake Saints anyone? — would validate the rowdy Hornets' cheering section's chant of "There ain't no Jazz in Utah!"
According to Yahoo! Sports' Kelly Dwyer, this is how the nickname came about when the team played in Charlotte, N.C.:
"The team was originally named in tribute to North Carolina's steadfast, guerrilla-styled defense of its soon-to-be-state during the Revolutionary War, a defense which led to an English general referring to the area as 'a veritable nest of hornets.' Apparently Louisiana gave no such defense. Way to go, guys."
Dwyer's suggested names for New Orleans included the Crays, Petes (after Pistol Pete Maravich), Wild Tchoupitoulas, Creole Kings, Bensons, Hot Five and, yes, the Jazz.
"With all due respect to the Utah franchise's history and winning ways, that name is meant for New Orleans," Dyer wrote. "It turned from a representation of a city's history into just another nickname once the Jazz moved to Utah, and absolutely nobody would side with the Utah Jazz in this conflict."
Dwyer continued: "Also, what's so wrong with two teams out of 30 sharing the same nickname? If any league should break down this barrier, it's the NBA.."
Dwyer is the NBA blogger for Yahoo!, not the CFL blogger. Otherwise, he'd know those crazy Canucks have two similarly named teams — Ottawa's Rough Riders and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Hmmm. Maybe the New Orleansjazz?
NO PAIN, NO GAIN: Paul Millsap didn't shoot at shootaround and sported a big brace on his right wrist, but he did do a walk-through with his teammates..
"I've still got my legs," he joked.
Millsap couldn't recall when exactly he injured his wrist during Wednesday's win at Houston, but he sure remembers a rough time in his hotel room tossing and turning in agony.
"That night the pain just flared up on me. It's a lot better, man. It's a lot better," Millsap said. "I can go to sleep now. That night I couldn't sleep at all because the pain was so bad. Now the pain is wearing off, that's good progress."
Friday's 96-85 loss despite his 27-point effort might hinder the Jazz's sleep again.
Millsap added a line that might be appreciated by those who spout the phrase "Pain is weakness leaving the body."
Said Millsap: "The more pain we can get out, the closer I am to getting on the floor."
MORE PROGRESS: Forward Jeremy Evans is doubtful to play tonight after missing the past two games with a sprained right ankle. The encouraging part for Evans is that he was able to ditch the walking boot. He motioned to his basketball shoes while claiming he won't be fully satisfied until he's able to tie those on again.
Utah is down to 10 players because of injuries, with Evans (ankle), Earl Watson (knee), C.J. Miles (calf), Josh Howard (knee) and Raja Bell (knee) all sidelined.
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