David Wesley was the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans career leader in games started.
Until he wasn’t.
As part of the deal to transfer of the franchise’s original nickname, colors and mascot back to Charlotte, the team records before 2002 reverted as well.
Everything done by the Hornets in New Orleans from 2002-2013 still belongs to the Pelicans, although the elimination of 14 years of history caused the Pelicans media guide from shrink from 216 pages to 99.
And everything done by the Bobcats from 2004-14 in Charlotte is being credited to the Hornets, although that’s being called the modern era as opposed to the “Classic Hornets” of 1988-2002.
Got all that?
It’s a wonder that Tuesday when Charlotte visited New Orleans, Brian Roberts, who began his NBA career at Hornet in 2012, was a Pelican last season and is now with the Charlotte Hornets didn’t go to the wrong locker room.
What the agreement does mean, among other things, is that Wesley, who started all but five of the 522 games he played in teal and purple between 1997 and 2005, is no longer the leader in that category. In fact, he doesn’t make the top five for either the Hornets or the Pelicans.
“I’m nothing now,” said Wesley, now the New Orleans TV analyst. “They took me completely out of the books.
“They didn’t ask me about it either, or I would have told them that they needed to have kept the records through at least 2005. That’s 2½ years out of my stats that are just gone.”
Wesley was a little more than semi-serious about being wiped out of both teams’ leader boards.
But Charlotte TV analyst Dell Curry, an original Hornet — who has that franchise’s record with 701 games played between 1988 and 1998 (David West with 530 is the new Pelicans franchise leader) — said if Wesley is collateral damage, it was for a good cause.
“It’s too bad that David’s numbers got chopped up,” Curry said.
“He didn’t have a lot of big numbers to begin with.
“But it means a lot to have the name back. They did a great job of rebranding over the summer, reaching out to the community, and now it’s a reality.”
Returning the records didn’t get the attention in New Orleans that giving back the nickname and colors did.
There wasn’t even a ceremony commemorating the event Tuesday night, although it would have been nice if the visitors hadn’t made it so hard on the Pelicans.
But the nickname and record swap may be unique in basketball: a team relinquishing them to the original city after playing under those colors in its new one.
Certainly the Utah Jazz never offered to send its oxymoronic nickname back to New Orleans along with the team records. And the last time we checked, the Los Angeles Lakers still claim their time in Minneapolis as part of their heritage.
But in football, the Baltimore Ravens had to leave the Cleveland Browns records behind on Lake Erie. However, the Tennessee Titans still own the old Houston Oilers marks, while the Houston Texans have only what they’ve done since the franchise originated in 2003.
Baseball’s one-time Montreal Expos are now the Washington Nationals, but Rusty Staub’s accomplishments crossed the border when the team moved. But then so did both editions of the Washington Senators, now in Minnesota and Texas.
In New Orleans, the transfer from the Hornets to the Pelicans has been a smooth one, probably because Pelicans is such a familiar term around here and was the name of the city’s professional baseball team for so long.
One still sees New Orleans Hornets merchandise around the city, but Tuesday night the only fan spotted wearing a Hornets cap and jacket had purchased the Charlotte variety.
Nobody seems to know what happened to the Hornets uniforms, shirts and other gear worn by the team and staff from the final season before the change to Pelicans.
“I’m not really sure,” Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps said.
If he’s not, who is?
One suspects that much of it was kept for souvenirs.
“Everybody keeps stuff from everywhere they’ve been,” Wesley said.
But you’re not likely to see the Pelicans have a Hornets throwback night anytime soon, although it would be nice to see another Bucs throwback night.
That would cause confusion.
For announcers, it’s already hard enough.
Curry said he’s called the Hornets the Bobcats a few times this year. Wesley confessed to slipping up and occasionally calling the Pelicans the Hornets, although not as much this year as last year.
“What we have now is appropriate,” Wesley said. “It’s fun to say ‘Charlotte Hornets’ again, and I like ‘New Orleans Pelicans.’
Even if it did cost him his spot in the teams’ record books.