What in the wide, wide world o’ sports is a goin’ on here?

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Slim Pickens
Slim Pickens in the comedy movie classic Blazing Saddles might have the same look on his face when seeing recent developments with the New Orleans Pelicans.

“What in the wide, wide world o’ sports is a goin’ on here?”

Slim Pickens spoke that line amid some silly chaos taking place during Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles.”

The clip should have been played throughout the New Orleans’ Pelicans game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night in the Smoothie King Center.

What in the wide, wide world o’ sports is a goin’ on here?

Anthony Davis doesn’t want to play for the Pelicans and the Pelicans don’t want to play Anthony Davis.

So on Friday night, there was Davis playing for Pelicans – as he has for 6½ seasons, as it seemed he never would again after requesting a trade two weeks ago.

What in the wide, wide world o’ sports is a goin’ on here?

The Pelicans discussed trading Davis before Thursday’s deadline but didn’t receive an offer they were satisfied with.

They felt like the best thing they could do then was to sit Davis for the rest of the season to make sure he doesn’t get injured and adversely affect offers when trading resumes in the summer as well as allow younger players’ development to be accelerated with expanded playing time.

But the NBA reportedly stepped in – to the tune of a threatened $100,000 per game fine each time a healthy Davis doesn’t play.

So the Pelicans said Uncle (Uncle Drew, if you like) and played Davis, who just this week was cleared to play after missing nearly three weeks because of a finger injury.

Davis started and the home fans booed him. Repeatedly.

Then they cheered him. More loudly each time.

What in the wide, wide world o’ sports is a goin’ on here?

Coach Alvin Gentry, who for two weeks now has been forced to follow front-office (and NBA) orders regarding Davis and be the sole public voice of the organization while general manager Dell Demps and executive vice president Mickey Loomis hide out, watched Davis scored 32 points and grab nine rebounds in less than 25 minutes.

Davis went to the bench with 3:14 left in the third quarter. He never returned even though the Timberwolves made repeated runs, even though the once-hostile crowd called for Davis by name during a fourth-quarter time-out.

What in the wide, wide world o’ sports is a goin’ on here?

Davis kept watching from the bench as his teammates held on for a 122-117 victory.

In the locker room after the game, players were asked about the unusual atmosphere in which home fans repeatedly booed their star player each time he touched the ball. At least for a while.

Tim Frazier said he didn’t hear the boos.

Really?

Jrue Holiday didn’t hear anything either.

Really?

Davis heard them, but …

“I didn’t expect that.”

Really?

What in the wide, wide world o’ sports is a goin’ on here?

After the Pelicans’ shoot-around earlier in the day, Holiday joked that Davis might have a “tour” similar to those that former NBA stars Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant had in recent seasons: “This is kind of like an AD tour.”

No, it’s not.

Pierce and Bryant were being acknowledged for their career accomplishments as they visited opponents’ cities for the final time.

Davis is 25 years old and seeking a new home.

Pierce was a long-time Boston Celtic, Bryant a life-long Los Angeles Laker.

Those are the two franchises mentioned most frequently as potential homes for Davis next season.

But for two more months, New Orleans is Davis’ home. He’ll be cheered. And booed. And probably receive a mixture of the two before the plug is finally and mercifully pulled on his Pelicans career.

Holiday was asked whether the rest of the season figures to be as strange as Friday was.

“I didn’t really find it strange today,” he said with a straight face.

Somewhere, Slim Pickens has a puzzled look on his face.

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Les East

Les East

CCS/Times-Picayune

Les East is a nationally renowned freelance journalist. His blog on SportsNOLA.com was named “Best Sports Blog” in 2016 by the Press Club of New Orleans. For 2013 he was named top sports columnist in the United States by the Society of Professional Journalists and Louisiana Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. You can follow…

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