When New Orleans Pelicans fans began doing it last season, it was kind of cute, their showing more love for power forward Anthony Davis than actually boasting that this city has the best player in the NBA.
The “MVP” chants then, understandably, were somewhat faint. However, if the most recent home game — Tuesday against the Charlotte Hornets — was any indication, that won’t be the case this season. Certainly not if Davis continues to play the way he did through the first week of league games.
“MVP! MVP! MVP!” rang throughout Smoothie King Center late in the third quarter when Davis stepped to the free-throw line. Davis is extremely leery to falling into the trap of believing all the hype thrown his way, even deserved. He was asked if he heard the chants.
“No, uh-uh,” he said.
A reporter pressed on. “You had to hear it.”
Davis then sheepishly allowed that he had. Clearly, it humbled him, and he still isn’t ready to embrace it.
“It’s crazy because for my year in college, I watched LeBron, Kobe, KD, all those guys and you’re watching TV and you hear those chants,” Davis said. “Then, you’re actually at that the line, and it’s like, ‘Oh, they’re chanting and doing that for me.’
“It’s good, but a the same time, my biggest thing was, ‘Alright, you’d better not miss these two free throws. When I saw that first one go in, I’m kind of like, ‘Alright, I’m going to make ‘em.
“But, it’s only the beginning of the season. We have a lot more (games) to go.”
Heading into Saturday night’s game at the San Antonio Spurs, Davis was averaging 23.8 points (eighth in the NBA), 13.3 rebounds (first) and 4.0 blocks (second). He headed into the previous game at Memphis on Monday second in the league in scoring at 28.5 points per game and first in rebounding (16.0) and blocks (6.0). He led the NBA in rebounding last season at 2.62 per game.
Pacers guard Donald Sloan may have made a name for himself with his career 31 points along with six assists in Indiana’s overtime loss at Washington on Wednesday.
However, Pelicans fans may remember Sloan. He played three games with the New Orleans Hornets in January of the 2011-12 season, averaging 4.0 points and 2.7 assists in 13.7 minutes per game. He also played three games the next season with New Orleans but only averaged two minutes per game.
This season, Sloan is averaging 15.5 points and 6.2 assists after getting an opportunity only when the Pacers’ top three guards were injured.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams remembers Sloan’s brief time with the team.
“Donald is a guy who was just trying to figure out how to stick in the NBA,” Williams said. “I’m just happy to see him doing well and taking advantage of his opportunity, because that’s what you have to do when you’re in that position. You get a chance to play, you’ve got to play.
“So, obviously he’s prepared, because you can’t just go out there and score 30-something points if you’re not prepared. He must have had a really good summer. Obviously he’s got confidence now.”
Since coming out of Texas A&M undrafted, Sloan played with four NBA Development League teams, in the Philippine and Chinese leagues and had short stints with four NBA teams. Then he played with Indiana’s 2013 Summer League team before sticking for 48 games last season with the Pacers. He again played on their Summer League team this past summer.
During the first week of the 2013-14 season, Portland small forward Nicolas Batum sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer against the San Antonio Spurs with the Trail Blazers already comfortably ahead.
The shot did not sit well with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich or his team. Batum explained that it gave him the first triple-double of his NBA career.
In a game Thursday against the Dallas Mavericks, Batum had eight points, nine rebounds and nine assists at the end of the third quarter. However, with the Blazers blowing out the Mavs, he sat out the fourth quarter.
He had learned his lesson. Last season, after the late shot against the Spurs, he embarrassingly called San Antonio forward Boris Diaw, a teammate on the French national team, and apologized.
Diaw also finished with four triple-doubles last season.
Charlotte getting its NBA nickname back and becoming the Hornets again is affecting more than that team and the Pelicans.
Even if it may be from a somewhat emotional standpoint.
Two seasons ago, Los Angeles Lakers future Hall of Fame guard Kobe Bryant scored his 20,000th point against the New Orleans Hornets at New Orleans Arena. Bryant was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, 13th overall, in 1996, then traded to the Lakers. Asked if it was special to reach the milestone against the team that drafted him, Bryant said he was intrigued by “the irony of it.”
New Orleans’ NBA team, of course, changed its name to the Pelicans. The records transfer to Charlotte goes only through 2005, so Bryant, technically, will have scored that milestone basket against the Pelicans. However, as his career winds down, he’ll get to face the Charlotte Hornets - not the Pelicans or Charlotte Bobcats – a few more times.