New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes (10) celebrates after he dunks against the Orlando Magic in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle - Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
The New Orleans NBA team could do more to grow its Magnolia State fan base.
For the last two years, the New Orleans Pelicans have had numerous groups from South Mississippi participate in pregame, halftime, and postgame activities. The Keesler Air Force Base National Guard out of Biloxi and the Pearl River Community College Choir from Poplarville have been routine in playing of the national anthem before the NBA game. Several other musical groups, such as South Mississippi’s country trio Chapel Hart, have performed during the halftime entertainment activities.
The New Orleans Pelicans volunteered numerous bottles of water to South Jackson residents during one of their water crises in March 2021. The players hand delivered two truckloads of water in their assistance.
Considering this relationship, the question remains: Should South Mississippi residents adopt and be supportive of the New Orleans Pelicans franchise?
The Mississippi Gulf Coast has become a destination for tourism, community events, and entertainment whether it be from the multitude of casino resorts on the beach to concerts, local activities, or just leisure. Many residents of the New Orleans region have come to relax and live along the Mississippi Coast.
In the past decade, the Pelicans had discussion several times in bringing a G-League team (the minor league of the NBA) to the Mississippi Coast. However, that has never materialized. The New Orleans franchise would more than likely increase their revenue if something like this could be worked out.
The modern-day NBA is definitely a league filled with drama, trades, and a social media dialogue which often leads to problems with team chemistry. South Mississippi is a relaxation and bedroom community that loves to be involved with volunteering, hospitality, and positive attitudes instead of the hustle NBA life portrays.
Fortunately for the Pelicans, the front office, management, coaching staff, and players themselves do not fall in line with the current NBA depiction, even with All-Star Forward Zion Williamson who is constantly discussed internationally. Executive Vice President David Griffin, General Manager Trajan Langdon, and Head Coach Willie Green have established a foundation and an enjoyable game experience when watching the New Orleans Pelicans.
Undoubtedly, Williamson is the star of the team, but the Pelicans have become a surge of different personalities that the fans have adapted to since making the playoffs last year without their star.
The largest problem with the team has been consistency with who is on the floor. Despite Coach Green’s acknowledgement that this happens to a lot of NBA teams with injuries, the consistent approach is not only team value, but attendance value to bring in out-of-state fans.
Even with Williamson, the Pelicans remain a home-grown team. Every game, there are activities for kids, young adults, and sports fans in general. The local camaraderie with the patrons provides a unique experience at the Smoothie King Center (“The Blender”).
With the numerous group ticket deals, sponsorships and parking provided inside the Superdome parking lot for a lot cheaper than the Saints, South Mississippi should come take a quick 45-minute drive to invest in a local, professional NBA team.
Additionally, the Pelicans organization needs to find a way to contribute back to South Mississippi fans. They already put in money to advocate to several different features in the New Orleans Metro.
With the amount the Pelicans team and front office provides for the average fan and working together with numerous local groups already, South Mississippi should get a taste of an experience in “The Blender.”
Likewise, the New Orleans Pelicans front office and team should support and encourage South Mississippi’s support. After all, it will help bring in revenue and grow the franchise.