Last Thursday, February 4th, in the year of our Lord 2016 and approximately at 10 PM Central Standard Time. That is the exact moment I realized that I hate the New Orleans Pelicans. I'm sorry, but I do. I hate almost everything about them. Don't take that to mean I don't care though. Love and hate aren't as different as people think. Just like love, hate requires that you first care about the subject of your disgust. You might say that hate is an injured, bruised, disappointed form of love. After all, we usually use to love those that we truly hate the most.
Even though it's ultimately pointless (win or lose), we put valuable time, money, and give a sh@t into our favorite teams. Hoping for a little entertainment and perhaps a momentary distraction from otherwise mundane lives. The Pelicans provide neither and seem to move further from the hope of a bright future with every passing day. Really this list could be much longer but I don't want to give this team anymore of my time than necessary. So yes, I hate this team and here are the reasons why:
5. Ownership Situation
For years the Pelicans (then-Hornets) had the worst owner in the NBA not named Donald Sterling. George Shinn was a cheap, miserly owner and wasn't even rich by NBA owner standards (maybe even by player standards). Shinn's lack of resources was painfully obvious in the management of the team. His penny pinching ways in Charlotte should have been a warning sign for New Orleans basketball fans; however, when it comes to getting NBA franchises you kind of have to take what you can get. For all the grief NOLA fans have given Chris Paul for leaving, it was Shinn that forced Paul out. Instead of adding to a solid core, Shinn broke up a team that was approaching contender status in the Western Conference.
The Hornets almost always possessed a laughing stock of a coaching staff under Shinn. At one point, he was so cheap that he forced then general manager Jeff Bower to coach the team instead of bringing in a bona fide head coach. Alas, hope sprang eternal when the Patron saint (pun intended) of NOLA sports, Tom Benson, swooped in and added the franchise to his impressive stable of businesses.
Benson buying the team was a godsend as the franchise finally had an owner who was actually, ya know, rich. It seemed the team was heading in the right direction. However, as Benson ages (he turns 89 in July), the vultures are circling his New Orleans sports empire. Benson is involved in a lengthy battle with his children and grandchildren over who will inherit his portfolio. It's anyone's guess how this pans out and what it means for the Pelicans.
Yet, if Benson loses his legal battle it probably won't be pretty. Both Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis reportedly have out clauses in their contract should ownership of the Saints be transferred to Benson's children and grandchildren. That should tell you what the insiders think of them as potential leaders of the franchise(s). For now, the Pelicans should have everything they need to run a first class organization, but their is no mistake that the franchise has the an heir of instability hanging over it at the very top -- I HATE that.
4. Boring Basketball
How many times in the last five years have you been really entertained by the Pels? I mean there are a few games that come to mind: the win over the Spurs on the final night of last season, AD's buzzer beater against OKC, Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler pick & rolling the Lakers to death in a prior postseason. Like every team, the Pels have had their moments, but when is the last time they were consistently entertaining?
When Chris Paul took his talents to Rodeo Drive, he basically took whatever entertainment value the franchise had left with him. Sure we get highlights here and there, but they are generally book-ended by pretty un-watchable basketball. First we were treated to years of the tortoise-friendly offense from Monty Williams (Side Note: Monty's not looking so bad now, am I right? Shout out to the #FireMonty crowd, i'm sure your pitch forks will move on to Gentry soon.) Now, we are witness to the, hurry up and take a bad shot, Alvin Gentry offense and let's not even talk about defense that I HATE.
Generally speaking, blaming coaching is a pretty lame argument. It's hard to know if the coach is just bad or players are not executing the game plan as directed (looking at you Tyreke... get well soon though as Cole is killing us). With that said, I don't think the Hornets/Pelicans have had a coach that I've really respected as a tactician or motivator since first following the team and dating back to the Paul Silas days. Silas was an average coach who inspired players about as much as a Coke machine. To his credit, Silas usually got just about what you would have expected out of the talent in front of him, and the organization did have a couple of nice seasons thanks to a young Baron Davis.
Silas was followed by Byron Scott. It's a credit to Jason Kidd and Chris Paul (both former players under Scott) that anyone, anywhere believes Scott is an above average coach. Scott was fired mid-season and replaced by the aforementioned Jeff Bower, thanks again Mr. Shinn. Bower's exit signaled the entrance of Monty Williams and his primordial offense. In Monty's defense, I think he did do a great job of developing Anthony Davis and his slow pace proved quite wise considering the defensive liabilities on this roster.
That brings us to present. Alvin Gentry was supposed to bring an uptempo high scoring style of basketball with solid defense implemented by assistant Darren Erman. What we've seen has been a faster pace, yet head-scratchingly stagnant offense. The Pelicans have been steadily improving on defense, but it still seems that every fourth possession is punctuated by an opponent leisurely strolling down the lane for another dunk. I, for one, did not expect Gentry would bring Golden State South to NOLA. I did, however, believe the team would be fun to watch and they have been anything but. It seems no matter the coach, the Pelicans manage to treat their fans to inconsistent play, and every 10th game or so, they just don't show up at all. I don't think this franchise has ever had a man on the sidelines that anyone felt would out-coach opponents on most nights. I HATE that.
2. Local Media Coverage
I love the local team broadcast featuring David Wesley, Joel Myers and Jen Hale. That's pretty much where my love for the local media stops concerning the Pelicans. The team is often an afterthought in local sports. In my opinion, this is in large part because there are so few knowledgeable media members when it comes the NBA in general. It's getting a little better with the Advocate moving into town with some smart people, but on a whole it's still pretty woeful.
The main culprit is a local publication that will remain nameless but whose name rhymes with Times Picayune. The coverage from this outfit makes it obvious that they put little to no effort into covering the team. They operate a website that makes Monty Williams offense look innovative and from what I can tell only have one person even thinking about the Pelicans. The best source of information and insight about the team comes from the blogs that cover team. This site as well as BourbonStreetshots.com (among other so called "fan sites") consistently run circles around the "professional" media's coverage of the Pels.
Most local media actually do quite a good job covering the Saints in my opinion, so obviously they could do a better job of covering the Pels if they wanted to, but they don't. Instead, we are subjected to endless CBA violating diatribes about what the team should have done. Oh, and you won't hear any per 100 possession stats or advanced metrics from these forward thinking behemoths of the written word. Then again, they probably HATE this team just like I do so how can I really blame them.
1. Injury Luck
This topic could, and probably should, be an entire article unto itself. The Pelicans may not have the worst injury luck in the league, but they aren't far behind. I couldn't even print them all in a paragraph without making it too long so I just listed the entire wet blanket, season destroying injuries over the last 5-8 years:
- Baron Davis (back/knee)
- Jamal Mashburn (knee/vertigo WTF)
- Peja Stojakovic (back)
- Tyson Chandler (back)
- James Posy (effort)
- Chris Paul (knee)
- Eric Gordon (everything)
- Jrue Holiday (shin)
- Tyreke Evans (knee/ankle)
- Quincy Pondexter (knee)
- Norris Cole (who cares)
- Omer Asik (calf)
- Anthony Davis (hang-nail, concussion, ankle, shoulder, another concussion, just kinda feel like going to the locker room, broken hand)
When I was a kid, the Saints were almost always bad, save a few years under Jim "Who Haslett" the dogs out. Since the Saints were usually eliminated from playoff contention after about week 6, I always had a backup team. That team was the Brett Farve Green Bay Packers. The Packers didn't always win the title, but they were always interesting and entertaining. That era of double dipping ended when the Saints signed Drew Brees in 2006.
Now, realizing that the Pelicans may actually never attain a similar level of greatness, I'm left to a return of my switch hitting fandom. My hate for the Pels has been building for a while now, and I must confess I've spent significant time watching other teams. A little Warriors here, a little OKC there, oh look the Spurs are on. When viewing these teams, it becomes apparent how far the Pelicans really are from even being a consistent playoff threat.
For all my whining and whimpering, though, I'm not leaving. I won't abandon the team just because the going is tough. But, this is not because I have some loyalty to the franchise. It's more because they are the team in New Orleans, and as my brother in law often says, "People from New Orleans love things from New Orleans." Truer words have never been spoken.
People from New Orleans also love hard and when that love is betrayed we hate hard too. So no, I'm not going anywhere, but will I rush home to catch the opening tip? Nope. Will I agonize over every Alexi Ajinca foul or get upset when the team fights hard on defense only to give up an offensive rebound? Not a chance. I've reached the saddest place a fan can get, resignation.
The Pelicans aren't going to win the lottery, they aren't going to land a big free agent and they won't make any of the right moves -- they never do. Anthony Davis will leave once his contract is up, and I won't hate him the way I unfairly hated on Chris Paul. No, I won't hate Anthony Davis because he's done all that he can. I'll HATE the New Orleans Pelicans.
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