Tom Benson, the iconic owner of both the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, passed away peacefully on Thursday at the age of 90. On Saturday night, the Pelicans paid tribute to Benson with a patch on their jerseys and warmup attire with his initials.
The patch on the uniforms, which were worn tonight against the Western Conference’s top-seeded Houston Rockets, can be seen below in a post by the Pelicans’ official Twitter account.
The #Pelicans will wear a special patch on their jerseys and warmups to honor the life of owner Tom Benson. pic.twitter.com/CvUouiSJVf
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) March 17, 2018
Benson, who had owned the Saints since 1995 and the Pelicans since 2012, was an iconic figure amongst the inhabitants of New Orleans.
On Friday, Tom’s wife and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson issued a letter to New Orleans sports fans thanking them for the love and support.
Via an article written by Herbie Teope of The Times-Picayune:
“While we are heartbroken by the loss of my husband, we are also tremendously grateful for the overwhelming love and prayers we continue to receive. Tom Benson’s love for his teams was rooted in his love for the fans. There was nothing he enjoyed more than greeting fans on game days, driving around training camp practices to shake hands or seeing so many loyal fans welcoming the team back from a road trip- win or lose. He felt a special connection to our incredible fan base because he truly felt like a fan himself – a hardworking, passionate New Orleanian who loved everything about his city,” Gayle wrote.
As of right now, the future ownership of the Pelicans is not entirely clear as it has been rumored that Gayle might sell the Pelicans within the next year or so in order to pay off taxes for the Saints. Benson’s death puts the long-term fate of the Pelicans in the great city of New Orleans even more so in question going forward.