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La Pelicans Familia: Zion Williamson, Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker are bonding superbly

The baby Pels have been spending a lot of time together in and around New Orleans!

2019 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Catalina Fragoso/NBAE via Getty Images

“Dad, just keep breathing steadily. They’re running a test. If things continue to look as good as they do right now, someone is going to pull out that nasty bugger real soon.”

Standing in a room on the ICU unit of a local Cincinnati hospital, words of encouragement were the only things my father needed to hear at that precise moment. The overriding focus was to ditch that most bothersome breathing tube ASAP!!!

I’ve never awoken with something foreign lodged well beyond my vocal cords, but people who have and were unfortunately lucid enough will quickly recant one of the most unpleasant episodes of their lives.

“It’s just the worst fucking feeling in the world.”

You can’t talk. And you’re confused. Worst of all, you can’t even try to overcome that gag reflex because your wrists are strapped to the railings of the bed.

Of course, the ventilator was a necessity up to this point. As was a cardiac surgeon’s deft touch mere hours earlier. To the surprise of us all, dad had required an operation a day after checking himself into the hospital, and thankfully there were no hiccups during or in the immediate aftermath of his quintuple bypass heart surgery.

Sometimes when patients rouse from general anesthesia, things proceed accordingly. One passes the pulmonary function test on their first attempt. Even better, there is little to no recollection of the entire occurrence soon thereafter.

My dad was on his third attempt to breathe on his own though, and his surprising vice-like grip of my right hand let me know it had better be the last one.

Mercifully, it was.

Things continue to be on the up and up and each day is a little better than the last (Thank you in advance for any and all well wishes!); however, the point of me showing you a glimpse into my world from over the course of these last few weeks is two-fold. One, I apologize for the lack of content around here lately, but I promise that is going to change in the very near future. Two, it’s to reiterate the importance of family in our lives — and hey, there is something rather stimulating occurring right now within our exciting new Pelicans community.

I hope your instant takeaway from viewing these three tweets in succession was that Zion Williamson, Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker have recently been spending a whole lot of time together outside of the gym.

In fact, the three Pelican first round draft picks have either been witnessed consistently together or shooting one another messages on social media since returning to New Orleans after the conclusion of the NBA Transition Program. From Zion recording Jaxson’s troubles with his luggage just moments after landing back in their new home to the trio making it a thing to “check in” regularly with one another on Instagram while taking a picture of their current footwear.


Sure seems like these three touted rookies from the 2019 Draft Class have made some kind of solid connection and they legitimately enjoy one another’s company. That’s pretty cool, but more to my intended point, we might be observing important groundwork of a familial-like bond being laid down before our very eyes. If so, that would represent a big and happy step for David Griffin and his vision for this New Orleans franchise.

In case you’ve missed the new regime’s first five months on the job, the Pelicans established a goal of developing a culture of family and togetherness at the outset. This was obvious when Griffin was adamant right from the start about keeping Jrue Holiday for the long term, when he brought in Trajan Langdon and Swin Cash, among others added or kept in basketball operations, and when he signed off on Derrick Favors and JJ Redick during the frenzied offseason.

To build a winning culture in a locale that has suffered more heartache than most, a lot of things need to go right. Once a blueprint has been selected, stuff like good talent must be unearthed, players developed and a team identity cultivated — all the while considering how the individuals and their personalities will mesh.

Right now, the three youngest members of the roster appear to be in the midst of building a budding relationship, something that many of us had once wished to see similarly develop among Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers and, well, other similar-aged players, but as you well know, that never transpired.

Here’s to Zion, Jaxson and Nickeil continuing to take us down such an intriguing path that we’ve only dreamed of countless times!