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The New Orleans Pelicans are an American professional basketball team based in New Orleans, Louisiana, that competes in the National Basketball Association (NBA). They play in the Southwest Division of the league's Western Conference. The franchise was established as the New Orleans Hornets in the 2002–03 season due to the relocation of the Charlotte Hornets after spending 1988–2002 based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Due to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the franchise temporarily relocated to Oklahoma City, where they spent two seasons officially known as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. The team returned to New Orleans full-time for the 2007–08 season. On January 24, 2013, the franchise announced it would rename itself as the New Orleans Pelicans. The name change to the Pelicans took effect after the conclusion of the 2012–13 season. The Charlotte Hornets name, history and records from 1988–2002 were returned to its original city to be used by the then-Charlotte Bobcats franchise, starting May 20, 2014.
In 11 seasons of play since the original franchise relocated from North Carolina, the New Orleans franchise has achieved an overall regular season record of 453–515, and has qualified for the postseason five times. Their achievements include one playoff series victory and one division title. While the Hornets continued to put a competitive team on the court, the team's attendance fell dramatically. Many attributed this lapse in popularity to the owner George Shinn, who was slowly becoming despised by the people of the city. In 1997, a Charlotte woman claimed that Shinn had raped her, and the resulting trial severely tarnished his reputation in the city. The consensus was that while Charlotte was as basketball-crazy as ever, fans took out their anger at Shinn on the team. Shinn had also become discontented with the Coliseum. Although it had been considered state-of-the-art when it opened, it was now considered obsolete due to a limited number of luxury boxes. On March 26, 2001, both the Hornets and the Vancouver Grizzlies applied for relocation to Memphis, Tennessee. Ultimately, it was the Grizzlies who made the move. Shinn issued an ultimatum: unless the city built a new arena at no cost to him, the Hornets would leave town.