Absurdity all that’s left at this point in Pelicans season
Twenty-six games to go.
That’s the only thing you can really take away from the theater of the absurd that is the New Orleans Pelicans.
There are 26 more opportunities for fans to try to decide whether to praise or bury Anthony Davis, though it will probably meld into a combination of the two.
When Davis was introduced to the Smoothie King Center crowd Friday night before the Pelicans’ 122-117 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, there was a noticeable contingent of fans who booed the franchise’s greatest player.
Who could blame them? Davis effectively checked out on the season when his trade request became public on Jan. 28, while the Pelicans were still clinging to hopes of putting a fully-healthy team on the floor and making a late-season run to the playoffs.
Davis heard it. He acknowledged as much after the game. “I always love the fans here,” he said. “So it was definitely awkard. Alright boo, okay. But it doesn’t matter. I’m going to go out and play basketball.”
Pressed further on the atmosphere his trade demand has created, Davis was more terse in his response.
Strangely enough, his teammates chose to act as if they heard nothing, saw nothing, knew nothing.
“I didn’t him them,” said Pelicans guard Tim Frazier. “They booed him?”
Yes, Tim. They did.
Jrue Holiday also said he hadn’t heard the boos either, though they continued through the first few Pelicans possessions precisely when Davis touched the basketball.
Those boos did turn to cheers. Fans are fans. They want to see wins and they want to see talented players do what they do. Davis won Friday night’s crowd over by accomplishing both.
He made spectacular plays on both ends of the court, on his way to 32 points, nine rebounds, and three blocked shots in only 24 minutes. There were dunks, powerful rebounds, and devastating blocked shots.
“I thought he played well the minutes he was in there and did a great job,” said Alvin Gentry. “He was typical Anthony.”
Gentry faced questions both before and after the game about the minutes that Davis will play on a nightly basis, now that the NBA has weighed in, reportedly threatening the Pelicans with a fine of $100,000 per game if Davis were a healthy scratch.
Whether or not he says so, this can’t be easy for Gentry. His team seemed to have found some rhythm playing together without Davis in the lineup for the past nine games. With the playoffs more dream than reality at this point, giving minutes to Davis doesn’t seem to benefit anyone.
There were multiple occasions when Anthony Davis left his feet and the crowd held its collective breath. This reverse alley-oop finish that resulted in a three-point play was almost a nightmare scenario come true.
All I saw was AD's knee and my heart stopped. NO ALLEY OOPS! pic.twitter.com/pVT9ZJFUkG
— Andrew Smith (@DruProductions) February 9, 2019
How many more times over the next two months will Pelicans fans, management, and presumably Rich Paul, Magic Johnson, and every other potential suitor for Davis’ services for that matter, have to hope that a player that has suffered more dings that a car left in a grocery store parking lot makes it through the season unscathed?
Unless something changes in the near future, we’ve all got…
Twenty-six games to go.
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Sports 1280am host/CCS reporter
David Grubb has more than a decade of experience in the sports industry. He began his career with KLAX-TV in Alexandria, La. and followed that up with a stint as an reporter and anchor with WGGB-TV in Springfield, Mass. After spending a few years away from the industry, David worked as sports information director for Southern University at New Orleans…