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New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) watches the game from the bench in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, La. Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. The Orlando Magic won118-88.

This is not integrity.

This is a sideshow. A farce. An outrage.

Tuesday’s 118-88 shellacking at the hands of the Orlando Magic was the latest glaring example of what happens when the litany of decision-makers disregard the feelings of the Pelicans’ paying customers.

Anthony Davis made it perfectly clear he doesn’t want to be a part of the Pelicans. The Pelicans, per a litany of sources, tried to see to it that he wouldn’t play another game for the franchise.

BUt commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA office are forcing the Pelicans to play Davis as a nod to the NBA Players Association, hoping to avoid potential litigation and cast notice of moral hazard to teams interested in intentionally losing games.

What has transpired in the wake of the league’s decision is one of the most embarrassing weeks in recent memory, and the nadir of the Benson family’s ownership of the franchise.

This entire saga is a prolonged, smug jab at the intelligence of Pelicans fans, who are somehow supposed to believe what they’re watching is a normal, competitive athletic event.

It’s not.


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“We sucked,” Davis said, after scoring three points on nine shots in one of the most lackluster efforts of his career. “Nobody was interested in playing. That’s what it looked like.”

No arguments there.

It’s gotten so bad even coach Alvin Gentry, who is the organization’s lone spokesman on the Davis situation said he won’t discuss it anymore.

“We have to get to a point where we are not bringing this up every time I step in front of the camera,” Gentry said. “To be honest with you, most of the answers, if you want them, you have to go to him and ask them. Whatever our new normal is, we want to get back to that. We want to put this stuff behind us.”

Frankly, so does everyone else. But the league and Davis have made it impossible to move on.

Davis is one of the best players in the world. As long as he’s here, he commands attention, and it’s unrealistic to expect otherwise.

But Gentry’s point is reasonable. He’s the lone public representative speaking for the franchise, forced to defend decisions made above his head, trying to explain an inexplicable rationale to fans.

He can’t defend it anymore.

The fans know it. Heck, Gentry knows it, but he just can’t say it.

And who will ultimately feel the sting when all of this is settled?

Pelicans fans.

They're becoming so disillusioned by the league’s process and the team’s silence, they're weighing whether to use their money elsewhere. New Orleans isn’t like most other cities where corporations gobble up the majority of the lower bowl as a tax write-off, not terribly concerned by the product on the floor or the direction of the franchise.

Many of the Pelicans’ ticket holders are families and small businesses, who make real choices about their dollars. And the team, even after a string of disappointing seasons (before 2017-18) sold 10,000 season-ticket equivalent packages because fans had faith in the organization.

In speaking to more than a dozen season ticket holders Tuesday, from the suites to the club section to the upper bowl, the common refrain was anger and confusion about the current situation.

Many of the fans are tired of being talked down to. They’re sick of the nonsense emanating from every direction over the past month, without a hint of explanation for what’s occurred or what's coming next.

So at this rate, convincing the bulk of them to stick around is going to be monumentally difficult.

And if the Smoothie King Center is desolate next season, it’s those fans who will be blamed instead of the franchise or the NBA. Then social media will snicker at the empty seats, rhetorically asking why the Pelicans aren't in a place like Seattle.

From there, the path can get very dark, very quickly — even if owner Gayle Benson has no interest in relocating or selling the franchise, as so many around her insist.

There’s still time to salvage this moment, though. Someone just needs to stand up for the fans, and considering the size of the market, it’s unrealistic to believe the league will do anything about it.

The customers need some message of faith. Even those who look in every nook and cranny for a silver lining admit it’s hard to see any evolution occurring.

Instead, the Pelicans are stuck in this bizarre limbo. And Tuesday night should serve as a wake-up call to break the morass.

Davis isn’t invested in the team. His body language and meager production the past two games made it plainly obvious.

The team isn’t invested in Davis, which his despondent teammates made abundantly clear on the court, and his head coach confirmed by admitting the distraction is exhausting.

The time is now.

The Pelicans need to stand up to the league, either by benching Davis, sending him home, or getting someone in upper management or ownership to openly discuss the situation to tell fans why they’re forcing them to watch this farce.

If there’s a fine, pay it. If there’s blowback, deal with it. Getting strong-armed is causing far more damage than complying to the NBA’s wishes.

Before Davis returned from injury, the depleted Pelicans were without five of their top six scorers. They played hard but lost more often than they won.

That was integrity.

This is a disgrace.

And someone in Pelicans ownership or the NBA league office needs to stop concerning themselves with the players, the agents, and the other 29 teams. For once, it’s time to do what’s best for the customers.