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From Old Hoops to New Hopes

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Published: January 18, 2020

While the LSU Tigers defeated Clemson 42-25 in the National Championship to remain perfect, the New Orleans Pelicans quietly won another game.

In a dramatic overtime finish, nearly completely unnoticed by the State of Louisiana, the Pelicans defeated the Detriot Pistons 117-110.

So what, right? It was a regular-season NBA game and the sub .500 Pistons aren’t even supposed to be good. Why should anyone care about this win? Why should anyone care about the Pelicans, who are also a team below .500.

As I write this, the Pels are a couple of hours away from tipping off with the Utah Jazz in the Smoothie King Center. Even though the Pelicans are only in 13th place in the West with a 15-26 record, the most loyal of fans are buzzing because this young assortment of new players seemed like it would never work. However, in recent weeks these young birds have won 9 out of their last 13 games with notable wins over Denver, Chicago, and Indiana. In their win on Sunday against the Pistons, the squad was missing five of arguably their best players and still pulled off a victory behind 25 points from reserve center Jahil Okafor, going right at Andre Drummond, an established veteran center.

What’s happening is that the team is getting interesting at the right time. It’s that time of the year where more casual Louisiana sports fans see their beloved football seasons end and move on to other things. All local fans just received glorious news this week when it was announced that No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williamson will hake his professional rookie debut Wednesday, Jan. 22 at home against the San Antonio Spurs.

While positivity for the franchise is coming together, it still likely that all of these elements may still fall short of a playoff bid down the stretch. All things considered, it doesn’t matter. What you want to see is potential hope for years to come.

Saints fans may feel exhausted. They’ve watched a system run by a team tweaked over and over again in hopes of a second Super Bowl win. For Pelicans fans, the hope was all about staying healthy enough to reach the playoffs and stay in the interest of superstar Anthony Davis. Ultimately, area fans saw the Saints lose a Wild Card game to the Vikings and Pels fans saw Davis demand his way to LA.

The transfer to the young Pelicans era, the era of Zion, is an atmosphere unfelt in New Orleans for a very long time now. It’s a team full of potential. The pressure is off and instead of having to win it all we get to root for underdogs again. We’re seeing what point guard Lonzo Ball is made out of, responding to a poor start to the season and suddenly commanding his offense with authority. This season is about watching Nickeil Alexander-Walker go from receiving a DNP (coach’s decision) to scoring in double figures as a guard off the bench. It’s about seeing “Mr. Basketball” himself J.J. Redick still lighting it up at age 35 and coaching these young guys. The feeling of adrenaline I get when I see 19-year-old Jaxson Hayes tower over everyone and fly with grace through the air for a devastating dunk I cannot compare the feeling to anything else.

Now enter the chosen one, Zion Williamson, whose incredible athletic in-game highlights the world has followed on social media since he was a high school sophomore. All eyes will be on New Orleans on Jan. 22. We’re already hearing the mythical like legend rumors surrounding this kid. He’s unusually big for a high-flying baller, 6-8 and weighing 280 lbs.

He’s built like a defensive lineman. Questions about his health swirled around while he rehabbed his surgically repaired knee. Now, days before his return doctors say he’s lost fat weight but gained 8 more pounds in muscle.

What is it we are about to see? Will he be an athlete unlike any the world has ever seen?

Whatever the outcome is, I’m betting on it being pretty special.

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