Who Dats for Hornets?

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Published: February 28, 2009

At the end of this last frustrating Saints season, it suddenly occurred to me that never had I heard a single Hornets fan say, “Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Hornets!”  In fact the thought had never entered my mind after any satisfying Hornets win, although I’m always glad to shout it whenever the Saints win.

I wondered about the psychology of this, and decided to ask season ticketholders having their pregame beer garden fun about Who Dats and Hornets.  A solid majority of the fans shuddered and pointed to the Superdome as if it were the repository of all the curses of ancient Indian mounds, graveyards, and the incantations of Marie Laveau, and said, “Please, we don’t need the Hornets to get any of that bad Saints hoodoo on our basketball team.”  A few of the fans had the Who Dat light go on and liked the idea, but their friends quickly refused to let them adopt the cheer.  I even found some guys who claimed very convincingly to have been the masterminds behind the Who Dat chant, and they knew that Who Dats were non-transferable from football to hoops.

They promised me a new rallying war cry for the Hornets, but I haven’t caught them at the beer garden to discuss it further.  Some people were satisfied with “Fan up!” but over all most didn’t think it has staying power.

I began to think it over to see if the psychology of the two games led to this idea that Who Dat works only for football.  Basketball has its rituals, but it’s not like the ritual weekend warfare that football summons.  Warfare always lends itself to chanting,  cries of victory over the enemy, etc.  Basketball is, to me, more akin to jazz, or any of the other improvisational arts, because while I always will want my New Orleans Hornets to triumph I have no trouble appreciating a great player, worthy teams, and moments of hoops amazement by an opponent.  Teams score so much in basketball that full-throated roaring about defense and the drama to make the winning shot only happens at the very end of the game, but in football any threat to score is greeted as territorial invasion.  Another aspect is that there are so many basketball games in such a dizzying array of combinations that it’s hard to emotionally prepare for battle during the NBA regular season.  Even baseball plays its games in little 3 game series, so fans can get excited about kicking butt on a bad team during their 3 game skirmish.  With football, hell as Saints fans understand it, is giving away games to bad teams that cause our Saints to plummet like a falling star from the NFL playoff picture.

There are only a few genuine rivalries in the NBA, although the tension of a 7 game playoff series can make enemies among fans during the playoffs that linger, like the simmerings of passion to beat the Spurs that erupted into a regular season game this year when we Hornets fans booed the Spurs on almost every offensive possession the entire game.  Still, while I love seeing my guys win on the hardwood, I always feel a little bloodthirsty before, during, and after I watch a Saints game.  Don’t get me wrong, I am always amped up to watch the Hornets, but I think in many ways New Orleans fans are conditioned to approach winning and losing from our football team.  I overheard fans this season talk about comparisons with the Saints when the Hornets lose a bad game, and last night after the Tyson’s reprieve vs the Bucks, I joked with people that it was almost like after the 2nd half the guys had switched from their Bucs jerseys to Saints jerseys, and we all knew exactly what was meant by that.

I haven’t come up with a solution for a satisfying, uniquely New Orleans thang to chant for the Hornets.  I know we have our little music clips for each player, and it seems that most of the league has ceded the Ric Flair Woooo! to CP3 (although I well remember it at the N.O. Arena for Baron Davis, and other teams used to use it for their point guards, too).  I found it interesting that the Cavaliers used the Wooooo! cheer against CP in their building, taunting him with it when he had a turnover or missed a shot.  Nonetheless, a Wooooo! from a wrestler who is even older than me doesn’t exactly seem like a “say it loud, say it proud” defining, unifying rally cry for my New Orleans hoops heroes.

Who Dat ain’t the answer, so what’s it gonna bee, fellas?

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