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Gayle Benson, owner of the New Orleans Pelicans and the New Orleans Saints, waves to the crowd after the NBA game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Detroit Pistons Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. The Pistons won 98-94.

Anthony Davis returned to the court for the New Orleans Pelicans -- to a chorus of boos -- Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves for the first time since asking for a trade. 

The fans weren't the only people at the Smoothie King Center letting the star forward know their feelings about the situation, however.


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ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy, the color commentary for the game broadcast alongside Ryan Ruocco, said he believes Gayle Benson needs to stand up for the Pelicans and all small market teams by sitting Davis for the remainder of the season. 

Earlier Friday, an ESPN report from Brian Windthorst said the league's threat of a possible $100,000 fine for every game Davis is healthy and sits factored into the Pelicans front office's decision to let Davis play out the remainder of the team's 27 regular season games.

In his argument for Benson and the Pelicans, Van Gundy said Davis playing puts the Pelicans at risk of reducing its lottery chances and puts Davis at risk of injury, potentially ruining the team's trade options for him.

"I think their owner Gayle Benson has missed out on an opportunity to take a stand for her team and for all small market teams in the NBA," Van Gundy said. "Anthony Davis, one of the five best players in the NBA, publicly demanded a trade and now the NBA is trying to bully her and threaten her with unduly harsh fines.

"I think the league is wrong. I think they should allow New Orleans to do exactly what is best for them because everybody else is doing what's best for themselves -- Anthony Davis and the league. Let the Pelicans do what's best for themselves."

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Van Gundy also went on later in the broadcast to blame Davis for the spectacle that surrounded the Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers around the NBA's trade deadline, saying that Rich Paul, Davis' agent, is not to blame for "following the directives of Anthony Davis."

What little good will Van Gundy may have gained in New Orleans from his comments about Davis were quickly diminished when he took a shot at local reporters covering the team moments later. 

Ruocco set up Van Gundy's diss asking if he read any New Orleans newspapers, specifically asking if he got the Times-Picayune delivered to his house.

"I don't even know if they have a daily beat writer," Van Gundy replied

Van Gundy may want to do a little research before making comments like this on air again. 

The Times-Picayune employs Pelicans beat writer Andrew Lopez, The Advocate's trio of Scott Kushner, Nathan Brown and Rod Walker regularly covers the team and Will Guillory, who formerly covered the Pelicans for the Times-Picayune, covers the team for The Athletic's New Orleans bureau.