This isn’t normal.
Despite the familiar presentation, the mundane news conference comments and the banal statements of explanation, nothing about the present-day New Orleans Pelicans is business as usual for any NBA franchise.
And this franchise knows strange.
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In the past 15 years, it’s simultaneously held the monicker of two home cities and was taken over by the league office at one point because its owner might not make next month’s payroll.
It’s stuff that just doesn’t happen anywhere else. But, even in that context, this might be the pinnacle of weird.
Superstar Anthony Davis said he wants nothing to do with the Pelicans’ future. The team is essentially eliminated from the playoffs, with nothing left to win for.
Every fiber of common sense says they should hit the proverbial reset button by sending Davis home, playing out the string while developing young players and put themselves in the best possible lottery position to prepare for a franchise-altering trade this summer.
Instead, we are all forced to watch a farce and make believe it’s just basketball.
According to sources, the NBA league office (which no longer owns this team, by the way) strong-armed the Pelicans to play Davis in the hopes of avoiding the bad optics and potential litigation derived from telling a youthful, healthy superstar he can’t play in games for the team he’s under contract with.
New Orleans Pelicans general manger Dell Demps cited "a number of factors" contributed to the decision to have Anthony Davis play the remainde…
So, instead, everyone is just pretending this is normal.
Fans in the Smoothie King Center boo Davis during the starting lineup and boo him again on his first several touches before backing off under an avalanche of scoring.
“It’s not the first time he’s been booed, guys,” coach Alvin Gentry said after Friday’s win over the Timberwolves. “I mean, he’s been booed before.”
That is downright laughable and absurd. It’s also telling of the lengths the franchise needs to go in order to convince you this is isn’t out of the ordinary.
Of course Davis has never been booed in a home game before, and Gentry knows it. Davis is an obscenely talented and decorated college and NBA player who has never sniffed controversy until this debacle.
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This is unprecedented. But, everything is being painted for this not to appear unusual.
It feels like "The Truman Show" on hardwood.
After Davis’ likeness was wiped away from the introduction video, and his name nearly excommunicated from the team’s broadcasts, there he is on the jumbotron a few days later, being praised for providing the play of the night.
Some people even purchased brand new Mardi Gras jerseys with Davis’ No. 23 on the back.
What is happening?
Davis made it perfectly clear he doesn’t want to be in New Orleans. Of course some fans in New Orleans are going to boo him, and of course that’s going to bother him after spending the past seven years trying to drag a beleaguered, injured roster into contention.
And it’s useless to blame Gentry, who is being put in position to not only speak for his team, but now his franchise and even the league. He can’t possibly justify or explain the decisions because he didn’t make them, he’s just answering for them.
Gentry is simply the punching bag, set up to stand at the podium and come up with something to say in order to quell the myriad of legitimate questions about this bizarre set of circumstances.
Alvin Gentry is ready to get back to focusing on basketball, and the last two weeks the action between the baselines has almost been an after-…
And even Davis is just doing what’s best for himself. He’s 25 years old, is healthy and likes playing in NBA basketball games with his teammates. Demanding to be traded to a better franchise doesn’t preclude him from wanting to play.
But, after Davis and the league office get their way, the franchise and their fans are left staring through a wildly distorted lens at the remainder of this season.
And no one with the franchise is willing, or able, to speak honestly about it.
Sure, general manager Dell Demps released a statement about playing Davis to “preserve the integrity of the game”, but it’s seriously lacking in details.
Just weeks after the city at large slammed the NFL for their dearth of transparency and accountability after the Saints were denied an opportunity to play for the Super Bowl, the same situation is playing out here.
The NBA made a decision which works directly against the Pelicans and Adam Silver has yet to utter a sentence about it. And there’s been no public pressure on him to do so.
The difference is, this time, the Pelicans can do something about it. Someone in ownership or management can at least attempt to inform their customers how they intend to move forward. Instead, the Pelicans decided to employ this twilight zone tactic, where even pointing out how bizarre this whole fiasco is, somehow qualifies as a slight against the team.
Anthony Davis returned to the court for the New Orleans Pelicans -- to a chorus of boos -- Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves for…
Let’s just say it again.
This isn’t normal. Stop acting like it is.
Give your fans something, anything, to express understanding of their plight and lend a vision for the future. The Pelicans aren’t doomed to this downgraded status forever, and there’s legitimate optimism that the right trade could make this team far better than they ever were during the largely disappointing Davis era.
So far, the message simply hasn’t been received. Instead, everyone is just left wondering why this feels so strange but appears so normal.