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2014 NBA All-Star Weekend Look Back
Nearly concurrent with the purchase of the then New Orleans Hornets by Tom Benson was the award of the 2014 NBA All-Star Game to New Orleans. While the ownership transfer is clearly the bigger of the two items, that does not mean that the All-Star Game hosted by the now New Orleans Pelicans is not a big deal. It most certainly was.
The NBA All-Star Game come with an overstuffed calendar of official functions, a swarm of associated events, and enough sweetness to pose a diabetic risk.
As our twitter followers know, we here at the site were credentialed and active in all aspects of the weekend . . . the visitors, events, food, parties, and more. Andrew and I video-bombed Fletcher Mackel and got on WDSU, while Michael did a half-hour segment with Eric Asher on TV as an invited guest.
There’s too much to recount here, and there’s been a great deal written about the weekend, but I’m going to hit some high spots, now that some time has passed, to see what really has persisted as seemingly important for New Orleans and the Pelicans.
This can be organized a number of ways, but I’ve chosen a chronological organization.
Following the awarding of the game two years in advance, the preparations began. Frequency of mentions slowly crept up, announcements were made from the city, and then advertising went up all over the city as the game drew near. The Hornets became the Pelicans after just a season instead of two so the Pelicans could host an All-Star Game. The New Orleans Arena became the Smoothie King Center, lining the cash-lined coffers of the organization with more cash. Part of the motivation of the change was to take advantage of the exposure of the All-Star Game. The Hyatt and Convention Center hosted events, and the Superdome played a large logistical role in the Weekend and the lead up to it. Hotels across the city began to fill up with writers, vendors, officials, players, and fans.
More spectacularly and game-relevant, Anthony Davis was named an All-Star for the first time in his NBA career after missing the first two cuts at the roster. Davis is a fantastic basketball player, and his selection as an All-Star was well-deserved.
In short, the All-Star Weekend, before it even arrived, had no small influence in jump-starting this team both on and off the court. Some things just would not have happened nearly as quickly without it. The cash and cachet coming to city just would not have come at all if not for the game, as well.
On Friday, there were a number of media events, announcements, and the Rising Stars Challenge featuring Anthony Davis.
Among the announcements, Alonzo Mourning was nominated for election into the Hall of Fame, David Stern was directly elected into it. Mourning is a part of the franchise’s history in Charlotte, but David Stern was instrumental and vocal in keeping the franchise here and improving it. He was going in the Hall of Fame regardless, but this has to add a little more to the affection for New Orleans by one of the most powerful figures in all of sports business history.
Davis’ team in the Rising Stars Challenge (Team Webber) lost 142-136. Davis played for nearly 29 minutes and went 8 of 14 for 16 points. He added 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks to just 1 turnover and 3 fouls.
Pelicans representation on Saturday was not as strong, but it was there if you knew where to look.
Most obviously was that Pierre Jackson played in the D-League All-Star Game at the Convention Center. Pierre played for nearly 25 minutes and went 11 of 18, including 6 of 10 from 3, and converted 2 of 3 free throw attempts to put up 30 of his teams 142 in their losing effort . . . the other team had 145. He added 2 offensive rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals with 4 turnovers and 2 fouls.
Besides Pierre, there were some familiar names out there: Ike Diogu, Melvin Ely, Arinze Onuaku, and Hilton Armstrong. And that’s not all . . . James Posey was an assistant coach.
I made the comment then, and I’ll stand by it . . . from a certain point of view, the New Orleans Hornets was very much like the ABA for the D-League. Of course, two pseudo-Pelicans were there, but one was an end of the bench prospect type, the other is a draft pick that is being developed. Still, it was pretty funny to note.
In the festivities that evening, former Hornet Marco Belinelli won the 3-point contest in “overshoot” over Bradley Beal. Marco is having the best season of his career in San Antonio, but the Hornets acquired him for Julian Wright. He did time with the Bulls, as well, after leaving the Hornets. Marco has become a solid rotation player and gets the nod on start in a inch on very good teams. He’s not only a good story, but a success story for the franchise.
The 63rd NBA All-Star game had Anthony Davis play 9:35 minutes in his first All-Star game. He was also the first Pelicans All-Star, and in their first season under that nickname, which is nice. He was 5 of 6 from the field, had a defensive rebound and two steals, and committed just one turnover. His low minutes were not so much an indictment of his play, which exceed the numbers transcribed here, but more of the politics of the All-Star roster. There is nothing to complain about here. He had a good showing and got a nod for his efforts in New Orleans up to this point. The West lost to the East 155-163, and the game set an All-Star Game scoring record.
As the players, fans, etc. packed up and headed back to their normal lives, some echoes of the All-Star Game remain. I had a nice late afternoon meal and coffee with some writers at Coop’s and Cafe Du Monde. I have a little tour, as well, while we talked about the city and basketball generally. They went back home having enjoyed their time hear and telling their readers (and listeners) that very thing.
Davis has not only played very well since the Weekend, but he also gets more attention when he does. The team now has their naming rights and most of their business overhaul in the rear-view mirror.
As a catalyst and as an ambassadorial event, the NBA All-Star Weekend was a success. Now, it’s up to the Pelicans and New Orleans to make the most out of what remains.