Chuck Edwards, one of the longest-tenured members of the New Orleans Pelicans organization, died unexpectedly Wednesday, according to a report from WLOX-TV in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Edwards, a native of Gulfport, Mississippi, had worked in New Orleans since 1997 when the Saints hired him as a game host.
Pelicans officials said the organization would release a statement about Edwards but had not done so by the end of the game Wednesday night because of the suddenness of the news.
Officials also refrained from commenting until the official release.
Doug Moreau, who handles press box announcements for the Saints, filled in for Edwards on Wednesday night.
The list of Pelicans employees who have been with the team longer than Edwards is short, including executive director of live programming Josh Richardson, radio play-by-play announcer Sean Kelley, publications and new media manager Jim Eichenhofer and equipment manager David Jovanovic.
After not getting off the bench for 19 of the Pelicans’ first 38 games, center Jahlil Okafor is making the most of Anthony Davis’ absence.
Okafor entered Wednesday night with an average of 21.2 points on 74.6-percent shooting, 11.0 rebounds and 2.6 blocks over his past five games. He picked up where he left off, hitting 6 of 7 shots in the first half for a team-high 12 points.
“He’s been really good for us, and I think he’s been really good because he’s put in the work,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “If you come in before practice, he’s in there to put in the work, and after practice he’s putting in the work. He went through a stretch where he had a lot of DNPs, and it didn’t affect him in any way. He came back the next day and worked even harder.”
Okafor, the No. 3 pick in the 2015 draft fresh off a national championship with Duke, was a first-team All-NBA rookie pick after averaging 17.5 points and seven rebounds, but his numbers and playing time declined rapidly from there. He averaged 11.8 points in his second season and was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in December 2017, averaging 6.4 points in 26 games.
Hoping to revive his career, he signed with New Orleans in August on a partially guaranteed contract that has paid dividends in the past two weeks.
“He just needed to be in the right situation,” Gentry said. “Sometimes it takes a couple of stops for guys to be that way and find a team where they fit in. He sees the opportunity and took advantage of it.”
The Pelicans were looking for only their second winning streak since the beginning of December. They won three in a row from Jan. 5-9 but were 6-7 for the month after going 6-9 in December. … After winning at Houston on Tuesday, New Orleans was seeking it first pair of wins on back-to-back nights since Nov. 16-17.