NEW ORLEANS, LA – Have you ever wonder to yourself, Why are fast foods so prevalent? No matter what city or state you’re in, you get the same order when you go. Usually, (unless it’s Chick-Fil-A) the service is unpleasant. I’ll tell you why. Consistency.
We, the people, are creatures of habit. We like things to be the same with minimal change as possible, as long as it benefits us. If things are consistent, more times than not, the outcome will be predictable, right?
That’s how I would describe this year’s New Orleans’ Pelicans organization: Consistent. The play on the court has been ultra constant. No matter who’s in (or out) of the lineup for the bayou basketball team, this team will provide effort, will compete at a high level and, to my disdain for this saying, they won’t bow down. But the play off the court has been the biggest surprise.
The energy in the Smoothie King Center has been insane. Last month, for instance, the Pelicans hosted the 10th place Minnesota Timberwolves 3 days after Christmas on a Wednesday night. The Blender was blendin’. The atmosphere was electric. Zion Williamson achieved his career high 43 points while scoring the last 14 points for the Pelicans down the stretch to secure the win and baptized Rudy Gobert (sign of the cross). It made the night more memorable for fans.
Surely, this game wouldn’t be box office, right!? The Timberwolves, at that time and currently, are an underachieving team battling for a play-in spot. Yes, the TWolves have Anthony Edwards & Rudy Gobert. I would’ve been a mad 10 year-old, if I would’ve received Christmas tickets to this game instead of the game that included Joel Embiid, James Harden & the Philadelphia 76ers on that concurrent Friday.
Indubitably, Zion & CJ McCollum are a huge draw in themselves. BUT. I’ve been present for contests that weren’t sell-outs like the Minnesota Timberwolves or the Philadelphia 76ers were.
What has changed?
The in-game show has been undeniably enjoyable. Third year in-game host, Theo Mitchell, credits the game entertainment team on an episode of In Space with Chris Connor when asked about the entertainment being displayed when the basketball isn’t bouncing. “They’re truly the masterminds that say ‘What if we create these situations… that can have lasting memories for all our fans.'” The San Francisco native mentioned games like an eating contest, on court shooting, sing-a-longs, and even chugging a smoothie are all initiatives that take a lot of work to execute in a short period of time.
Also, the creative staff is shooting 100% from 3 when it comes to free gifts and prizes to patrons attending a home game. One prize in particular is moving from body to body like Chris & Snoop from HBO’s The Wire: the Pierre turkey-pelican hat. The headwear has been seen at every home game since Thanksgiving, and has been spotted in opposing arenas on the road. On the reseller’s market, they have been sold for $50.
Another prize is the Pelican’s logo lego set. A 500+ piece miniature building-blocks that requires a lot of free time. I’m almost done.
The Pelicans currently have a home record of 17-5. The Blender is becoming a tough place to play in for opposing teams. Reportedly, members associated with the Minnesota Timberwolves were “blown away” by basketball environment provided by the fans (via Scott Kushner, Times Picayune). After a loss to the Brooklyn Nets at the Smoothie King Center, NBA superstar, Kevin Durant, spoke about the atmosphere, “It’s New Orleans. It’s energy as soon as you walk out your door. They’re going to rally behind their team.”
While the Smoothie King Center isn’t as innovative or possesses the allure of the Chase Center or TD Gardens or Cryto.com (haha), but it has a charm to it. Probably, the only arena in America where you can get a smoothie from Smoothie King, a bowl of jambalaya and crawfish nachos.
The Blender is becoming a household name on its own. A place where fans can truly enjoy themselves and feel like they can have an impact on the game. A place where fans can connect with the team in a safe and enjoyable way. Winning or losing is not guaranteed, but the triangular connection in effort from the players, the organization and fans is paramount in creating sustainable/consistent success.
The Pelicans next home game is on Wednesday, January 18th versus the Miami Heat. A purple “NOLA” flag will be given out to each fan attending the game.