The Histories of the New Orleans Pelicans

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Published: September 13, 2013
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I don’t believe in destiny or the guiding hand of fate
I don’t believe in forever or love as a mystical state
I don’t believe in the stars or the planets or angels watching from above
But, I believe there’s a ghost of a chance we can find someone to love
And make it last…

— Rush, Ghost of a Chance

New Orleans Pelicans News

We’ve been running a click behind since I left the country, so this is a catch-up edition that has us catching up with some Pelicans (and more).

Around Bourbon Street Shots

In this weeks Trew to the Game, Chris takes a Jrue Holiday focused walked down musical memory lane.

`Voices’ of the People

I don’t think I would have believed it if you told me I would someday have warmer thoughts for Jarrett Jack than Chris Paul.

mateor

Unfortunately news in that he won’t be a part of training camp but good news that it’s not season ending. Get well and best wishes Darius.

LaNative

They let you do a bunch of stuff in New Orleans.

Dan Devine

42 Sense

In the mind of the sports enthusiast, whether they be fans, participants in the sport, or those that transact the business of the relevant league, it is very difficult to shake the idea of certain correlations, even if they are logically fallacious. One of the biggest offending assumed correlations is that tied to the legacy of a franchise. The Lakers have had a long history of success dating back to Minnesota. This leads people to assume the Lakers will “always be a contender,” or at least often will be. There is no reason to actually believe this, however, if the factors that brought that success about change, such as ownership and star power. One can point to the market, but then another one can point to the Clippers to end that bad argument.

Rational or not, perception affects business in many ways including free agent decisions and the spending habits of fans.

The New Orleans Pelicans can be viewed has having no history, since the nickname and identity of the team is freshly minted. This has some merit, but for people who have seen Anthony Davis bounce the ball in the New Orleans Arena with Monty Williams as his coach, the position has some gaping holes.

They can also be viewed as having the history of the New Orleans Hornets, or even the Charlotte Hornets. Truckloads of paperwork validate this claim, but it rings as hollow once the real factors of success are considered: ownership, business relationships, control of top talent. Even the team talks about a new era in an attempt to break from the past.

So what’s a team to do? Does the past matter? Some? Which parts?

Rather than re-argue the Ship of Theseus, I suggest we turn the problem sideways, as I am prone to do. Rather than focus on Pelicans, focus on New Orleans, as I am prone to do . . . or, in this case, Louisiana.

With a regionally appropriate name and identity, why not promote the basketball history of the region. Louisiana itself has produced a surprising number of Hall of Famers. Embrace that. Shout it from the rooftops.

Or, the rafters?

Part of the battle in business is always perception, and the fact is that football is more popular than the basketball generally in the US, and that football is king around here. The perception, on the other hand, is that this is somehow to the detriment of the enjoyment of basketball. The myth of the football effect is just one aspect of this perception. The truth is that the Hornets and Saints actually had a number of season ticket holders in common, and this has persisted into the Pelicans era. Also, the Pelicans season ticket holder base is kind of masked by ticket groups. People self-identify as season ticket holders to the team verbally, but really they are part of a self-managed group that has but a single point of contact with the team. Or, they are in this situation but don’t self-identify. No matter the taxonomy rules, it shows that there is a large category of “lovers of sport” sitting in the groups of “lovers of this sport.” Or, perhaps, lovers of New Orleans. Financially, it’s all the same.

This is one of the key elements that made the I’m In campaign so successful. These lovers of sport gathered their friends for the organization who then pitched the importance and benefit to them and others of participating in the “whole Hornets thing” even when there was a lockout. In fact, these season ticket holders, with the help of the organization, not only signed up new season ticket holders, but also had current season ticket holders add seats to their own accounts then subsequently dole out tickets to the new or expanded group. This ties back to the discussion of how to properly grow a season ticket base, but the main point here is that there are lovers of sport waiting to be introduced to the game . . . they just need the right `switch’ to be flipped at the right time for them.

When this latent love of sports is combined with the excitement of NBA games, the potential for building a long-lasting relationship is there. This is likely why the NBA has tried so hard to remain here (that and the public money).

This is where the Louisiana basketball legacy comes into play. Like The Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral, and The Presbytere dwarfing the statue of Andrew Jackson in his eponymous square, this legacy should dwarf the current team and its struggles. That trio of buildings testifies the nearly 100 years of work that it took to take a crescent bank of the Mississippi River and pull the fledgling city from the swamp in the face of fire, floods, disease, and more. That century of turmoil, that century of birth and creation is what made this city worth annexing by the up-and-coming United States, worth attacking by outsiders, and worth defending by its residents (where y’at, St. Bernard). The very stone tells this story nearly subliminally. While Tom Benson, David Stern, and the horses they rode in on are to be commended and thanked, there was something worth fighting for BEFORE they joined the cavalry.

Louisiana has exported basketball greatness as judged by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for decades. These exports have laid the foundation for this moment. This latent greatness is known by some, but it hasn’t been yanked from the swamp and gussied up yet. The monument has not been raised yet.

I suggest to you, Mr. Lauscha, that this legacy become part of the history of the New Orleans Pelicans and part of the foundation of the future of the franchise.

Educate the locals and the NBA on this legacy. Let them know that the US has a coast that isn’t to the East or the West. Let them all know that New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast have always been a part of the foundation of the NBA. Let them know that the MVP Award is named after a Louisiana native. Let them know how many MVP’s have come from this region.

A few ideas on how to accomplish this:

  • Hang a banner honoring these legends. A Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame banner listing the current honorees would be a constant, inexpensive educational tool and persistant reminder of this legacy. It matters not if these players actually played for a New Orleans team . . . the Heat have Jordan’s jersey hanging in their Arena. Why? To honor the greatness. (His number is retired by the Heat. They hung a Dan Marino jersey as well, but the number is not retired.)
  • Have Bill Russell night, etc. Put something about him in the program, put up some video clips throughout the night. Little stuff like this can go a long way with both locals and visitors who will show off their new knowledge at their local sports bars.
  • A bit more pricey would be to incorporate these figures into the Arena itself. With the exterior of the Arena still yet-to-be-renovated, there are chances to honor these players by engraving their names into the building (for instance), either in a “ring of honor” or a wall section that acts a plaque. By using the exterior, visitors to the Arena and the Superdown will see legacy that is likely unknown to them.
  • Place some banners in Champions Square. The logic here is similar to that in getting the word out to visitors. The “No mas” fight is highlighted this way.
  • In the interest of showing how Louisiana continues to produce NBA talent, highlight visiting players with Louisiana ties in each game they play. Offer good seats to their families. We are hospitable, after all.

“Smell Greatness” was part of what got New Orleans . . . not just the Saints . . . to and through the Super Bowl. There is a giant box of basketball greatness sitting there.

Adopt that history, adopt that legacy, adopt that greatness.

Use it.

And let the NBA know what’s coming for them.

3 comments
LaNative
LaNative

This is a great idea to display the rich basketball history of Louisiana.  A really nice interactive exhibit in the lobby...yes, I believe in going big or going home.  This is a great opportunity and a place for kids to dream of one day being seen.

mateor
mateor

Yeah, that is a good idea. It shouldn't just be Pistol Pete up there, that has always been uncomfortable.

Pelican Poster
Pelican Poster

Awesome Jason!  I think its a great idea and logical direction for them to take and now is the perfect time.