Before being officially announced as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans, Josh Hart made his presence well known to the city of New Orleans.
We know the cliches created about loving NOLA and what it takes to have those feelings reciprocated, but this isn’t a manufactured romance — it’s been genuine from the first day.
Josh Hart had changed his profile picture and Instagram bio to "New Orleans Pelicans." pic.twitter.com/SdSdMd96sg— Shikhar (@ReallyShikhar) June 17, 2019
Best beignet spots in New Orleans? Asking for a friend— Josh Hart (@joshhart) June 16, 2019
This dude Josh Hart ordered him some new slides with the extra quick delivery pic.twitter.com/5ybf2DW1FY— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) June 19, 2019
Josh Hart has:— Jerit Roser (@JeritRoser) June 19, 2019
• immediately started repping the Pelicans in his Twitter bio, wardrobe, etc.
• Asked where to find the best beignets in New Orleans
• Dropped a funny Russell Westbrook reaction gif
• Invited Wale to a game.@joshhart is easily one of my favorite NBA players. pic.twitter.com/NXOIhTSzZJ
These early examples of Hart’s rise as a fan favorite are only the beginning of his public displays of love towards his new team and city. In less than a month’s time he has become the perfect PR agent for the New Orleans Pelicans, a real estate agent of sorts, and more than anything, a mouthpiece.
Hart’s words have looked to not only provide a ray of light towards his new team and city, he has also possibly shined one on his own individual brand.
For all of my wrestling fans past and present, Josh Hart could be that “manager” the Pelicans have missed for far too long. While the team has possessed many positive role models and marketable talents over the years, not many players have joined New Orleans with an overabundance of exuberance and outgoing swagger which Hart has displayed.
Jimmy Hart was known for his days of being the voice behind several professional wrestling talents. Even the most casual of fans should recognize him from the history of sports entertainment.
What was Jimmy’s nickname you ask?
“The Mouth of the South!”
That name fit for so many reasons. It described what his role was before one even caught a glimpse of his face. He was the promoter, the marketer, and sometimes the provocator for many acts that maybe could have spoken on their own behalf but allowed Hart to instead display the verbal gymnastics. It kept the pressure on the performer to simply be a mechanic and focus on matters inside the ring.
This type of role created attention and carbon copies of Hart’s loudmouth, over the top style in the future. It also allowed some of the best athletes in that spectrum to not have the responsibility of selling events and characters — Hart did it for them.
When it was time to battle, Jimmy Hart would often remain untouched. He knew no matter what negatives he uttered had limited impact due to the protection he always possessed. He wouldn’t have to do much of the heavy lifting.
The parallels between Josh and Jimmy Hart aren’t exactly congruent — although Jimmy Hart ironically was a part of a rock band in the early 60’s called “The Gentry’s.”
Josh Hart will more than likely fill a big role on the Pelicans roster. While not projected to be a starter, Hart possesses many floor attributes that should earn big minutes in crucial situations. Among others, Hart brings adequate size for his position, a willingness to defend, and a reputation for being a solid corner three-point shooter (42 percent for his career).
So, he’s not just speaking without plans of backing up those words we’ve heard and read.
We still like it when he “talks that talk,” however.
Josh Hart says the Pelicans could be in the Finals in 3-4 years pic.twitter.com/sx93n75eVk— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) June 21, 2019
We just gotta get him a high five here and there!
The title of possibly becoming “The Mouth of New Orleans” shouldn’t be taken for granted. While a variety of sports share many similar life qualities and story telling which are all communicated through athletic displays, it’s still entertainment folks! In a city as vibrant and outgoing as the Big Easy, everybody loves a show. The residents are vehement about their teams being competitive, but they also enjoy a good story and encourage strong personalities.
If you’ve listened to the talk on the streets in New Orleans over these past few years, one would have heard things such as: “What if Alvin Kamara or Cam Jordan played for the Pelicans instead of the Saints?”
When a guy like Saints star receiver Micheal Thomas shows his appreciation on Twitter for various New Orleans musical acts unprovoked, there’s a different level of respect and loyalty slowly built. When Marshon Lattimore wore a “Soulja Rag” to his first playoff game, fans openly pondered: “Why don’t we see this behavior from Pelican players?”
There’s a possibility that was all starting to come together a few short years ago with DeMarcus Cousins next to Anthony Davis in town. There were so many historic New Orleans themed publications sent out, and Boogie himself even got in on the fun.
We won’t ignore the impact and the prospects of what winning can have on these cases. If the Saints had posted a record of 8-24 over the past two seasons instead of the antithetical, there’s a strong possibility their individual personalities wouldn’t stand as popular throughout the city.
Many were ready for the DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and Jrue Holiday trio to fuel that long awaited success filled culture shift in Pelican basketball. Could the Pelicans be as big as the Saints? There aren’t many Drew Brees walking around.
That question unfortunately was put on hold and the hope for a new era with the cast aforementioned never materialized for various of reasons. New Orleans was back to square one...but not for long. New VP of Basketball Operations David Griffin has seemingly been the catalyst for brewing something special in New Orleans these last few months.
After needing to find Anthony Davis a new home, Griff stripped down and rebuilt the entire roster. His commitment to every layer of fabric in this New Orleans franchise will more than likely change the way we all view basketball here throughout the next decade and beyond. Then there’s the addition of Zion, a prodigy of sorts, but thankfully the future organizational chess piece gets the chance to be slotted next to the current leader in Jrue Holiday. Develop at your own pace, rook, and be sure to enjoy the ride without having all the weight on your shoulders...yet!
Honestly, all of the additions made by the Pelicans front office have been spectacular across the board. Everyone is excited about the new incoming class that includes Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, JJ Redick and Derrick Favors.
But please don’t overlook Josh Hart.
He will be a crucial part of that equation, and we know that he’s looking forward to it. As a matter of fact — as you’ve probably guessed — he’s already told us.
The good news for Josh is that in New Orleans one doesn’t have to announce what they’ll drink to because somebody else has probably already done that. Only time will tell if Hart’s excitement on the floor will fill happy hour discussions, matching his magnetic energy away from basketball courts.
Can you imagine his first recorded stroll through Uptown? Either way, Hart has a leg up on the competition, and a ton of free beignets coming his way.
If this era of Pelicans basketball reads correctly, New Orleans will do a lot more than win games and attract media. They’ll no longer be downplayed or confused with their allies and nicknames of the past. The accomplishments of their hometown football team may not suffocate their success.
New Orleans has begun walking down the path of being trendy; expect fans from other states to soon follow suit and climb aboard the bandwagon. Be sure to look around everywhere you travel — I’ll bet you’ll start seeing more random Pelicans gear. But whether the new fans realize it or not, players waving the banner like Josh Hart will deserve a ton of credit for aiding in the creation of a new fun culture, speaking it into existence through actions and words. And we should all expect him to continue carrying that microphone proudly.