Now that the NBA season has come to a finality, everyone wants to talk about the new coach for their team, how they believe their draft selection will pan out (SHOCKER: probably not as good as expected), or who should be sought after in free agency.
However, here in New Orleans, many locals have already moved onto the next party, leaving basketball as an afterthought until October (or April in most cases...) So in the name of bandwagon-dom, revelry, intoxication, and indulgence, I've decided to assign each player their appropriate Nola dish or drink alter-ego. Enjoy it na, cher.
Anthony Davis: Classic New Orleans Snowball
The ice king is your go-to item when it starts to get hot. You can’t go wrong with this as the focal point of any social gathering. His most "Snowball" moment this past year came when he knocked down a clutch buzzer beater over the Oklahoma City Thunder on February 6th, subsequently giving the Pelicans the tie-breaker for the 8th seed in the playoffs. **Best: Ro-Bear's on Jefferson Highway**
Jrue Holiday: Jambalaya
There’s always a big enough pot to distribute some to each and everyone on your team. Jrue's most "Jambalaya" game was also, strangely enough, against the Thunder on December 21st when he racked up 15 dimes in a 101-99 victory for the Pelicans. **Best: K-Paul's on Chartres**
Ryan Anderson: Seafood Gumbo
Has all the good components of a ton of other classic dishes, i.e. boiled crabs, boiled shrimp, okra, garlic, onion, etc. Ryan Anderson's most "Seafood Gumbo" game this year was, and I swear this was not planned, the December 2nd win over Oklahoma City in which he had 23 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks, and 7-7 at the charity stripe. **Best: Gumbo Shop on St. Peters**
Tyreke Evans: Hurricane
Reckless, wild, and unpredictable but will surely get something going in sometimes the most unconventional way. Tyreke's most "Hurricane" game this past season was in the 95-93 win at Toronto on January 18th, where Reke willed him team to a victory. Without AD and Jrue Holiday, he scored 26 points in 36 minutes including a driving lay-up with under 2 seconds remaining, in which he was expected to make a tough, gritty play. **Best: Pat O'Briens on Bourbon**
Omer Asik: Ice Cold Raw Oysters
The big "O", once you get it out of it’s shell, ladies and gentleman, beware of this Aphrodisiac. Sometimes you get a dud, but other times you're rewarded for the hard work. Anyone who's ever learned to shuck a sack of oysters, knows that occasionally it's a 50-50 shot of success.
Omer's most "Oyster" moments this year were a back-to-back in Florida. On February 20th in Orlando, Asik posted pedestrian line: 6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block, 1 assist, 1 steal in a loss; however, the very next night down south in Miami he had 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal in a winning effort. Omer will never out up superstar numbers, but make up your damn mind son! **Best: Bourbon House on Bourbon**
Luke Babbitt: Red Beans & Rice
It takes a while to get these going, but man they are worth the SLOOOOWWW wait. This might anger some purists, but I HAVE to put some sort of spice and salt on every plate of red beans I've ever eaten. Plus, I have many fond memories of my mother soaking beans all day -- such a boring and sluggish endeavor. But I will be damned if those protein packs and starchy carbs don't catch fire after the long wait and extra extra peppering.
Therefore, Luke Babbitt's most "Red Beans & Rice" game this past year was in the February 23rd contest against the Raptors, a 100-97 Pelicans win. Luke entered the game at the end of the 1st quarter, accounting for no stats at all. After about 3 minutes of moseying around on the court, he attained an assist (to Jeff Withey) and a defensive rebound, soon after he's sent back to the bench. With just under 2 minutes remaining in the half, it began: Babbitt knocked down two 3-point jumpers to reduce the Raptor lead going into the half. When the final buzzer sounded, Luke had amassed 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and a dime to boot; a valiant effort and impressive outcome for a role player (and I assign that moniker that with the best intentions, Mr. Babbitt). **Best: Liuzza's on N Lopez**
Norris Cole: Sazerac
Small in stature, but hits you VERY quickly. The first time I ordered a Sazerac and received my total, I wasn't sure whether to laugh at the bartender or dropkick him right there in the Roosevelt. Low and behold, that little puddle of liquor kicked like a mule without much warning.
Such is the case with Norris Cole, who's most "Sazerac" game this year was the 2nd quarter of the regular finale against the San Antonio Spurs where he rattled off 13 points, 1 block, 1 steal, and 1 assist in 11 minutes of play, and unexpected contributor as far as the Spurs were concerned. **Best: The Sazerac Bar on Baronne**
Alexis Ajinca: Beignets
Of mostly French origin, with a slight American twist. A very rare and sweet treat, even for the locals. Admittedly, that's where the similarities end.
Ajinca's most "Beignet" game of the 2014-15 season was in the 104-102 victory over the Miami Heat on February 27th, where he "shook up the bag" and had his sweetest stat line of the year: 24 points (career high), 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, a .900 shooting percentage from the field, and going 6-8 at the free throw line. **Best: Cafe Du Monde on Decatur**
Quincy Pondexter: Muffuletta
Strange name that’s sometimes hard for locals and non-locals to agree on phonetically. Sturdy and overflowing with talent. The Muffuletta, much like Quincy, has many variations depending on which restaurant (or arena) you find one (him) in, but get them (him) at their home base for the optimal results.
Pondexter's most "Muffuletta" game of the year was in the April 7th victory over the eventual NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, where his experience and calm made way for the most efficient game of the season, going 4-4 on 3 pointers, and 6-7 on field goal attempts for a total of 20 points. Pondexter's talent and ability are only limited by the chef calling the shots -- load him up with the right ingredients and let him serve up any family of 5. **Best: The Central Grocery on Decatur**
Jeff Withey: Hand Grenade
Tall and thin, but will knock you on your ass. Withey didn't get much playing time this year, averaging a lowly 3.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks per game, but he's a big man that packs a punch. Bourbon Street's oft staggered pavement is littered with the tall thin green vessels containing a molded grenade at the bottom, and similarly Jeff's biggest contribution is blocking shots, leaving his opponent downtrodden and emotionally subdued on the glistening hardwood.
He didn't log many minutes this year with the emergence of Alexis "Beignet" Ajinca, but Withey's most "Hand Grenade" stretch of games took place in the 2013-14 season, where he averaged 2.3 blocks per game for the month of April. **Best: Tropical Isle on Bourbon**
Jimmer Fredette: Boiled Crawfish
Get ‘em while there hot! When they cool off, you might as well put them off to the side for another day’s dish. Jimmer is like crawfish before Easter, when the seafood markets are still volleying up "Christian Crawfish" prices at absorbent rates, they're usually still too small to produce anything good for the amount of effort you put into them, and if they're fresh and hot, they're great, and vice-versa. Jimmer and crawfish have they're moments, but it's best to only indulge every once in a while to avoid exhaustion and run the risk of quality endangerment.
Hence, Jimmer's most "Crawfish" games were the New Year's hump where he knocked down 14 points at San Antonio on 12/31 and 10 points vs. Houston on 1/2, only to follow up with a goose egg against the Washington Wizards the very next game on 1/5. Aside from his admirable faith and dedication to fitness, he does have one more thing going for him -- shout out to Whitney Fredette. **Best: Deanie's Seafood on Iberville**
Eric Gordon: King Cake
Usually a great treat no matter the season, but certain times of the year it's a hit if you get a good one. Some artists in the French Quarter occasionally make overpriced king cakes replicas out of glass, intended simply to sit there on the viewing shelf as a statement/argument piece, so, you know, there's that too. But there is no denying that when Eric Gordon, much like king cakes during Mardi Gras season, is on, there's no one else you'd rather look to when you're trying to score a few points (whether against your competitor on the court, or with your girlfriend of 5 years who's out-of-town family you are just meeting for the first time after polishing off a six-er of Dixie Beer and handle of Taaka king cake flavored vodka in February of 2012). Digression.
Eric Gordon's most "King Cake" game against his former team, the Los Angeles Clippers, on January 30th, scoring 28 points on 10-20 from the field and 5-7 from beyond the arc to lead the Pelicans to a 108-103 victory without AD. How sweet it is. **Best: Manny Randazzo's on N Hullen**
Dante Cunnigham: BBQ Shrimp
Ol’ faithful, scrappy and sometimes messy enough to require a bib. There's occasionally a great BBQ shrimp dish, but honestly, when it's not done right, it's easily identifiable. In a few words, Dante Cunningham and BBQ shrimp are good for short bursts, but not everyday usage/consumption. They're able to fill a need when called upon.
Cunningham's most "BBQ Shrimp" game of this past season was the 102-96 win over the Brooklyn Nets on February 25th. Dante had to fill in for the Pelicans when Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis, and Jrue Holiday were all sidelined by injury, and he did so, very well, by producing a 13 point, 7 rebound, 2 steal, 1 assist, and 1 block game in their absence. **Best: Mr. B's on Royal**
There you have it, each New Orleans Pelicans' highest and best possible comparison to the food and spirit culture of the city they represent. Please submit your opinion, agreements, and disagreements below, and do your best to change my mind about Omer "Oyster" Asik.