The Night the Pelicans Planted Their Flag

Published: April 20, 2018

April 19, 2018 – It is a date to never be forgotten in the cultural history of the great City of New Orleans, State of Louisiana and Gulf Coast region.

The sixth seeded New Orleans Pelicans of the NBA’s Western Conference went from national media whipping post to precious darling seemingly overnight as they jumped out to a 2-0 series lead on the road against the No. 3 Portland Trailblazers in the first round of the playoffs. Pelican guard Jrue Holiday was named a “breakout star” for being the same guy he has been since January. While many saw the Pelicans as catching lightening in a bottle, the guys in the locker room saw themselves as just taking care of business.

Even as the Pels arrived back in New Orleans for Game 3, the first at home, there was still talk, or warnings even, that the mojo of Damian Lilliard and C.J. McCollum could still reveal itself.

The Pelicans, as a franchise have faced plenty of unwanted voodoo to overcome the elements and reach the moment they are in right now. Natural disasters, relocations, injuries to practically every key player and even deaths. So when the subject of voodoo was brought up by an adorable little doughnut shop visited by tourists in the Pacific Northwest, the Pelicans had no problem boomeranging that hex back in the other direction.

When the Pels traveled to Portland and put their feet up on the Blazers’ couch, people began to believe. But to truly ensure that this new direction wasn’t just a flash in the pan, the Pelicans planted their flag in the soil on April 19.

The 119-102 Pelican victory nearly felt like a 35-point victory before the reserve unit checked in. An alley-oop from Holiday to Anthony Davis at the 7:14 mark in the fourth quarter to go up 107-79 seemed to put the final nail in the coffin. As soon as the subs stepped on the floor, “Michael” Jordan Crawford launched up and sank a 3-pointer, much to the delight of a crowd that was loud, rowdy, drunk and ready to fight.

Don’t be confused. This isn’t the first time this franchise has experienced this type of atmosphere. In 2015, the Smoothie King Center was hyped the last time the team was in the postseason even though they never beat the Golden State Warriors a single time in that series. And we all know Chris Paul held the heart of the city during his runs with the team. Many of us are still haunted by a Game 7 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the 07-08 season.

However, something was different about April 19, 2018 in our current era led by once-in-a-lifetime talent Anthony Davis. For all of the criticisms, negativity and flat out irrational hate the New Orleans Pelicans receive, they seemed to conquer it all. The domination, the way they executed, was a message to the world that they are not a team to take lightly. Coach Alvin Gentry proved he’s in control. Assistant and defensive specialist Darren Erman was inside the Blazers’ heads. Rajon Rondo proved he is a leader and a positive energy producer. Nikola Mirotic proved letting him go is the Chicago Bulls’ biggest mistake. Darius Miller proved he belongs in the NBA. Davis and Holiday proved they were strong. They all proved they could still win without Demarcus Cousins, a top 15 league talent.

The Pelicans, a team no one wanted to be here, has forced you notice them.

The City of New Orleans loves them for it. It’s moments like these that give us inspiration. The games like these, being there with my wife and our friends, it’s creating memories for a lifetime. Give me all of the Mannie Fresh ft. Juvenile halftime shows. I’ll be here for it and New Orleans will too, and we’ll tell our kids about it too.

We are the lucky ones. We get to ask, “Where were you on April 19?”


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