The New Orleans Pelicans vs. Mardi Gras

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Published: February 12, 2015

The Pelicans missed a lot of shots last night, both on the court and off. The game recap tells you what happened on the court. Here’s what happened off.

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It’s Mardi Gras season and there is no way to compete with Mardi Gras head-to-head. Maybe if our three best players were active. Maybe if we were playing a team with a marquee player. Maybe. But Mardi Gras is the MVP of New Orleans and if the Pels are going to compete with that they need to shape up.

Do the Pelicans have to play home games during Mardi Gras?
With teams like the Bulls and Spurs going on long winded road trips (Circus and Rodeo) it seems like New Orleans can push for some time away from New Orleans during Carnival. If the team isn’t going to play ball with the season that’s the easiest solution here. But then again, I walked from the game last night along St. Charles Avenue taking in most of Druids and all of Nyx. As I maneuvered my way between marching bands and kids on ladders, I thought about how lucky we all are to have floats, marching bands, and dance krewes just a few blocks away from the Smoothie King Center. If Mardi Gras can be better incorporated into the home games then this could easily become the away game opposing team fans circle on their calendar.

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What was the atmosphere like in the Smoothie King Center?
Pierre had a generic sparkly wig and the Honeybees “Pelicans Dance Team” wore shirts that said something about a generic Mardi Gras Party. The pre-game party outside the Arena had a DJ playing generic dance music. At one point there was a “Mardi Gras Mask Cam” which was a camera person focusing on a fan in the audience and framing the shot so it looked like they were wearing a generic Mardi Gras mask. This segment was highlighted by them putting the video Mardi Gras mask on a kid who was actually wearing a Mardi Gras mask. Generic.

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What did they get right?
Credit where credit is due – Mardi Gras Mambo played as the team came out to warm-ups (though points are deducted here as it faded out quickly to play generic rap song #2 because I guess basketball players can’t get hyped doing layup drills to the Mardi Gras Mambo). The screens promoted “Mardi Gras Madness” all night long (though it was sort of a reminder that actual Mardi Gras was happening down the street and what was “madness” about this I don’t know). The Gametime program was Purple, Green, and Gold (though the beads were clearly photoshopped around Luke Babbit). The Pelicans Mardi Gras 2015 bead giveaway was good.

FullSizeRender_6The halftime show was amazing. Actually, the halftime show was the best. It was better than the game. It was better than the second half of Druids. It was Pierre (still in his sparkly wig), Air Pierre, King Cake Baby, the Used-to-Bees “Pelicans Senior Dance Team”, Mardi Gras Indians, the “Pelicans Dance Team”, the Swoop Troop, the lower bowl ushers, the people who fry the chicken at the Fowl Line, Dell Demps, David West, the Bee-Zanies, the Pelicans Drum Line, the Pelicans Mini Drum Line, Julian Wright, Jeff Withey’s headband, David Stern, George Shinn, Marcus Thornton, the Centerplate chefs, James Posey, Morris Bart, and Hilton Armstrong all second lining around the court throwing beads, dancing, and creating a truly WTF environment that made sure everyone forgot that first half and remembered that it’s Carnival time. It was weird and I loved it.

How could this be better?

Season ticket holder second line: invite special season ticket holders to second line around the court during timeouts. While we’re here, have a King and Queen of Pelicans Mardi Gras, a month long fan contest. Keep record of the Kings and Queens and invite them back every year, establishing a tradition.

More Mardi Gras music: this is the biggest no-brainer of them all (second place no-brainer: sell King Cake). Unplug the DJ outside the game (please) and get a brass band out there. You know how brass bands will walk around the Superdome and play just outside the entrance to a section? Do that too. All game long. File this under “things that should probably happen every game no matter what.”

Mardi Gras jerseys: The Adidas Team Shop has 85 hats, 15 sock designs, and 5 new shirt designs every week for a total of 350 shirts. I appreciate the merchandise options but it makes the lack of a Mardi Gras jersey much harder to swallow. Give us the same Mardi Gras jerseys from before (minus Hugo plus Pierre, of course). They were insane. They were loud. They were perfect. If the team sat me down and asked what’s the first thing I would change about this team I would blurt out “bring back Mardi Gras jerseys” before they finished the question.

Give tickets away to Krewes: As a way to build towards both Mardi Gras and the Mardi Gras games, give tickets away to Krewes and give them a shoutout during the game. In section 305 we’ve got Zulu. Section 304, Bacchus. Including Krewes in the games will make the games feel more Mardi Gras.

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Competing with Mardi Gras is difficult. Even if our team was healthy and winning games. The Pelicans game day staff has a responsibility to make fans feel good about deciding to be in the Arena instead of the St. Charles neutral ground. Last night was a bad loss on the court and a missed opportunity off the court.

Chris Trew is a New Orleans based comedian, podcaster, and Pelicans season ticket holder. Listen to his New Orleans sports podcast, Trew 2 the Game, every Tuesday on Stitcher and iTunes. Follow him on Twitter: @Trew2theGame

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