For Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry, life has changed for the better
Things really have changed for New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry.
As recently as late last season, Gentry wasn’t being introduced at home games because of negative fan reactions.
And then there was the entirety of the 2018-19 season, possibly the most surreal in the history of the franchise.
Gentry was given the coaching equivalent of having to park a school bus that just lost a tire while it skids across an icy street. His franchise player asked out, his general manager was kicked out, and all indications were that Gentry, after four seasons and one playoff appearance was the next to go.
At Monday morning’s Saints Hall of Fame Celebrity Golf Classic, Gentry was all smiles. Why shouldn’t he be?
With David Griffin, and now Trajan Langdon, the Pelicans have one of the more highly regarded tandems in the entire NBA.
Last week also brought New Orleans a victory in the draft lottery, giving the Pelicans the right to draft man-child Zion Williamson.
“When you think about a six percent chance of winning anything, you know it’s a long shot at best,” he said of the Pels’ lottery odds. “Just trying to track the numbers was a trying feat to say the least…You got a sheet with one thousand and one different combinations of numbers and you’re trying to follow them as they call out. I got the first couple and then got the third one, but couldn’t find the fourth one, but before I found it they announced it anyway so, it was a good feeling.”
To say the least.
Alvin Gentry's reaction to his Pelicans winning the lottery is perfect 😂
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 15, 2019
Gentry’s enthusiasm was impossible to hide. So is his love for New Orleans and Pelicans fans. Much like his counterpart Sean Payton, Gentry has embraced the city and is protective of its perception.
“I don’t think anybody is more deserving than the fans here, and Mrs. Benson,” he said. “I just think it gives a boost to our franchise right away.”
“After everything that we’ve gone through and what has happened, for them to call our name, you know it’s unbelievable.”
Instead of the prospect of hoping for a star in the trade for Davis, they have at least one bird in the hand before negotiations even begin.
“I think we’re moving forward, but I’ve felt that way from the day Mrs. Benson took over,” he added.
Gentry continues to play the diplomat when it comes to the future of Anthony Davis. With word that Griffin plans to meet with Davis this week to assess his feelings about staying in New Orleans, the possibility still exists that AD will be a Pelican when the next season begins.
“Obviously we feel like we’re moving in the right direction and we’d love for him to be a part of it,” said Gentry. “I think everyone keeps forgetting that he is on our roster.”
Whatever happens with Davis, there’s no stopping Gentry and his optimism. It has been his defining characteristic since he yelled to Davis and Pelicans fans from the locker room of the Golden State Warriors as they claimed the first championship of their current run.
New Orleanians are both very welcoming and very leery of outsiders. The city has been burned by those who just don’t get it. Gentry always has, even if fans haven’t always gotten him.
The truth is, Alvin Gentry is a lot like New Orleans. He is a survivor. He is a believer. And he has no concern with what the “experts” think.
For now, he is the right coach for the right team in the right city.
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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…