NBA Draft Lottery night for Pelicans conjures up Biblical proportion images
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) May 15, 2019
For those of us of faith, there is always the power of prayer, the belief in divine intervention and the knowledge that God is in control.
While I am sure that the Lord has no skin in the game in any sporting event, there is the strong faith, the franchising of something extraordinary occurring, to which said individuals can lay claim.
In Biblical terms, B.C. stands for the English phrase “Before Christ.”
In Biblical terms, A.D. stands for “Anno Domini,” which stands for “In the year of the Lord,” the year Jesus was born.
In Biblical terms, Zion appears in scripture over 150 times. It is synonymous with the City of God. It represented the highest point in Jerusalem.
In the history of the current NBA franchise in New Orleans, there was “B.C.” before Chris, as in Chris Paul. CP3 was the fourth overall pick of the Hornets in the 2005 draft. Once Paul arrived, New Orleans had a franchise player and a great guy in the community who made the Hornets a winner and won its first playoff series in the city.
“A.D.” is for Anthony Davis, who arrived as manna from Heaven via the wacky ping-pong ball system in 2012. In that draft, the Hornets were slated to pick fourth and ascended to the top spot.
Can you imagine where the franchise would have been for the past seven years and where it would be now without the development of May 30, 2012?
Like Paul, Davis lived up to expectations, becoming an elite player and good guy in the community. He led the Pelicans to the playoffs twice and won a playoff series in 2018.
“Zion” is for Zion Williamson, who is now certain to be donning a jersey with the New Orleans brand in the fall.
By all accounts, Williamson is a good guy who will assimilate well with teammates and in the New Orleans community, a place he has never visited previously.
The Big Easy and the City that Care Forgot are seldom associated with the City of God by tourists and outside observers, who view New Orleans as a destination location for libation to utilize as sedation to calm frustration, perhaps more than any other city in the nation.
After last night, there is a palpable, tangible sense of elation for a Pelicans fan base which was clearly waning, reeling from a disastrous season, on and off the court. Salvation of a virtually moribund situation may be at hand.
The truth is that New Orleans has a rich history, tradition and presence of the Lord with its huge presence of churches on many corners. As a matter of fact, the NFL team here is named “Saints.”
The name was originally looked upon as blasphemous by some persons of faith, citing a football team playing on Sundays, rather than people being in church.
It required a blessing from then Archbishop Philip Hannan to give Roman Catholics virtual permission to sanction the name and the team, allowing support for the squad on the Lord’s day.
Archbishop Hannan was a wonderful man who lived a wonderful life to the age of 98, departing this earth to be with the Lord in 2011. Hannan was a huge Saints fan and sports fan and a close, trusted confidant of New Orleans natives Tom and Gayle Benson.
Hannan served his country in World War II in the United States Army. Hannan was a friend of the famed Kennedy political family and delivered the homily at the funeral of President John F. Kennedy. In 1968, he delivered the graveside eulogy for Robert F. Kennedy.
Gayle Benson remains a deeply devoted Roman Catholic and is close with current New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond, a New Orleans native. Where there is faith, there is hope.
Then, there is the presence of David Griffin, hired by Gayle Benson as the Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.
To say that Griffin has faith appears to be accurate. To say there is hope with Griffin in tow is genuine. He built a roster around LeBron James which won an NBA title. To say Griffin is a good luck charm is not a stretch.
Last night, Griffin got a tie for Alvin Gentry to wear that had been worn by Jeff Cohen when Griffin and Cohen were with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On all three occasions previously when the tie was worn at the Draft Lottery, the Cavaliers won the Lottery, getting the top pick. Griffin called Cohen and asked if he could have the tie for the Lottery process Tuesday night. Cohen sent Griffin the tie. The Cavaliers, who had a great chance at getting the No. 1 pick, are likely fit to be tied with Griffin and New Orleans getting the pick.
To exacerbate the faith-based aspect of what happened, consider this from Griffin.
“We did a contest in New Orleans,” Griffin said. “One of our ticket holders, Connie Halphen, gave us this. This is her lucky angel. It’s a 56-year-old wooden angel. And when Cleveland won in 2014, I had my grandmother’s angel on my shoulder. Connie was our angel here today.”
Where there is faith, there is hope.
For the conspiracy theorists who feel the goofy, much maligned Lottery system of the NBA Draft is fixed, consider this.
The Knicks, along with a couple of others, had the best shot at getting the No. 1 pick. They did not get it. Phoenix, the 12th largest television market in the country, had an equal chance with New York to get the No. 1 pick. The Suns did not get it. Cleveland, the 18th largest television market in the country, had an equal chance to get the No. 1 pick. The Cavaliers did not get it.
Chicago, the third largest television market in the country, had the fourth best shot at landing the No. 1 pick. The Bulls did not get it. Atlanta, the eighth largest television market in the country, had the fifth best chance at landing the No. 1 pick. The Hawks did not get it. Washington, DC, the ninth largest television market in the nation, had the sixth best chance to get the top pick. The Wizards did not land it.
New Orleans is the second smallest television market in the NBA with 624,000 homes. Memphis, who got the second pick, is the smallest television market in the league with 623,000 homes.
New Orleans went all the way from seventh to first.
While the Lottery remains an outlier to me in comparison to other professional leagues and is a made-for-television event, it does serve a purpose.
The prospect of “tanking” took yet another hit last night as the teams who likely, if not clearly did so this past season and had the best chances to get the top pick, did not get it.
The latest revision to the Lottery system clearly benefited the Pelicans as the team with the worst record and best chance to land the top overall pick had its odds reduced from a 25 percent chance to a 14 percent chance to get the pick.
Griffin did a good job of not doing cartwheels after the shocking development, though Gentry was off the charts with his reaction and rightfully so. Gentry is a good man who, sticking with the faith-based theme, went through hell this past season. You have to feel good for Alvin.
“I’m really excited for our fan base,” Griffin said. “We have a lot of work to do but this is a good start.”
#Pelicans good vibes extend to #NBA draft lottery, with New Orleans winning one of the most anticipated lotteries of this decade. David Griffin and Alvin Gentry discussed what the epic victory means for the franchise. Story: https://t.co/83JygBiXMW pic.twitter.com/fmeXp4wmcu
— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) May 15, 2019
Now, Griffin, Gayle Benson and Jrue Holiday will make a concerted effort to convince Davis to stay in New Orleans and build a winner, in conjunction with Williamson. Good luck with that effort.
By all accounts, the mood has not changed from the Davis camp and Rich Paul, who orchestrated a catastrophic failure this past season which ruined the season for two franchises.
Davis, most likely, still wants to be traded. That is no surprise, based on all of the misguided moves he and his advisory team made this past season. His lack of understanding the dynamics of the league and the dynamics of a fan base were truly puzzling.
My guess is that Davis sticks to his current position and demands a trade.
The Lakers remain positioned well to make a deal and got the fourth overall pick in the Lottery for this season. The Knicks, who got the third overall pick, are positioned well and have that pick and solid asset in Kevin Knox. Boston is still a player, with several solid young veteran players in the fold. The Clippers are a dark horse as well, with good players and in the market that Davis covets. If you really like Ja Morant, don’t dismiss the Grizzlies. Of course, Davis likely would have no interest in staying in Memphis. Perhaps the Monty Williams connection in Phoenix could land you DeAndre Ayton, a position of need.
Where there is faith, there is hope. Where there is hope, there is a promising future.
Thanks to the developments of Tuesday night, there is the hope of a promising future for a franchise that was wandering in the Biblical, barren wilderness of the desert. From Paul to Davis to Williamson, the torch has been passed. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps it is the reflection of an angel.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…