The New Orleans Saints will wrap up their infuriating 2014 regular season on Sunday in a road tilt with the lowly Tampa Bay Bucs.
The LSU football team will put a bow on 2014 just two days later when they take the field in a bowl game tilt with Notre Dame.
High school ball is over. Nicholls is over. UL-Lafayette’s bowl game has already been played.
Whether we want to admit it or not, our beloved football is in its twilight – about to head into the six-month hibernation period that we call the offseason.
But all is not lost, and because it’s Christmas Eve, we’re here to help. Do you need help finding ways to pass the time in an athletic setting throughout the rest of the winter and into the spring? Are you struggling to find ways to get an adrenaline rise in a competitive venue around thousands of your friends?
Here’s the answer: Get off your butt and go to a New Orleans Pelicans game. They desperately need your support.
(Clears throat and cues cheesy TV infomercial voice).
For just one easy payment of approximately $20 (through StubHub), you can earn the honor of watching some of the best athletes in the world go to work in the Smoothie King Center.
In the coming months, some of the best players in the history of basketball will take their teams to New Orleans in games that the Pelicans absolutely, positively need to win.
On Friday night, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the defending-champion San Antonio Spurs will be here. On Jan. 2, Dwight Howard, James Harden and the rest of the Houston Rockets will come to do battle in this interdivision rivalry matchup. In January, a basketball can also see Kobe Bryant (Jan. 21) and Chris Paul (Jan. 30).
If your New Year’s Resolution is to cut back on spending, then no worry – February is loaded, too.
By the time 90 percent of you will have given up on your resolution, it’ll be a perfect time to see Kevin Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder on Feb. 4. Just three days later, Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls will be in town for an action-packed early February Saturday night game.
(Accelerates cheesy infomercial to its peak).
But wait – there’s more!
In addition to a solid slate of home games, the Pelicans, themselves, are worth the watch – no matter the opponent.
For a pay-one-price fee, fans can see both Anthony Davis and his unibrow – the powerful force that is taking the NBA by storm. Davis is easily one of the Top 10 players in the world, and that’s probably a conservative measurement.
He, alone, is worth a trip to the Smoothie King Center when you and your friends have a free night or weekend.
When one factors in role players like the explosive Tyreke Evans, the flashy Jrue Holiday and the sharp-shooting Ryan Anderson, you have a bargain that will equal low-cost, family-friendly fun throughout the winter and spring.
OK, cheesy infomercial aside, it’s time to get serious.
It’s time that Louisiana gets excited about basketball for a change. It’s time that we rally around our franchise before they become someone else’s franchise. It’s time we rally around our Anthony Davis before he gets frustrated and becomes someone else’s Anthony Davis.
The Pelicans’ attendance is a joke – a laughing stock that we should all be thoroughly embarrassed about when one considers how cheap single-game tickets can be had on various ticket-auctioning sites around the web.
Through the first 11 home games of the 2014-15 NBA season, the Pelicans were No. 24 out of 30 teams in total attendance, averaging just north of 15,000 people per game.
That number is thousands of people per game behind the contenders of the league like the Spurs, Rockets, Bulls and Cavs. The only teams below the Pels in attendance are the Hawks, who suffer from Atlanta’s notoriously awful sports fans and bottom feeders like the Nuggets, Bucks, 76ers, Timberwolves and Pistons – all teams with absolutely no championship aspirations, nor stars to cling to for the future.
As-if being No. 24 isn’t bad enough, the number is actually probably a bit skewed because of the team’s difficult early schedule. How low would the Pelicans’ attendance be if they wouldn’t have already hosted top-tier draws like the Cavs, Lakers, Thunder, Knicks, Mavericks and Warriors?
If the team’s pathetic 13,179 attendance against the Jazz last week is any indicator, the team will be smack-dab on the bottom of the NBA when their schedule softens and they play some of the less sexy teams in the league.
The excuses for apathy are endless, and everyone has a different reason why they don’t care about this team.
But none of the gripes are valid, so it’s time that we cut that bogusness and get around this team before it’s too late.
Some say they don’t go to the games because Louisiana isn’t a basketball state. They justify this by adding that they and their friends simply don’t like the sport.
That’s a lie.
TV ratings numbers show that Louisiana is among the top state per capita in terms of NBA viewership. The numbers go even deeper to show that the teams we watch the most are the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.
I’m sorry, but if you’re watching the Lakers right now with how awful they’ve been, you can’t claim to not be a fan of the sport. That excuse carries no weight. On my birthday in 2013, I sat in a Houma eatery and watched Game 7 of the NBA Finals. The place was so packed that they had to send people home per orders from the fire marshal. We love basketball here. There’s just a mental block that needs to be lifted somewhere between Point A (our homes) and Point B (the Smoothie King Center).
The second excuse people use is that the team is adopted from Charlotte, and that because of that, our state was never fully able to grasp it as our own like it did the Saints and LSU.
That’s a more legitimate complaint, but it’s still a lie. In the past two years, Tom Benson has hired a slew of folks with the sole responsibility of branding this team and making it one that belongs to Louisiana. The name ‘hornet’ is dead – back in Charlotte where it belongs. With that, the name Pelican has been born.
What’s more Louisiana than a hideously ugly seabird that feasts on fish? The answer is nothing.
The Hornets were never our team. They always belonged to Charlotte. But we’ve returned the name, and now, the Pelicans are ours – for better or worse. Learn to love them or learn to watch them play for some other city.
And the last, and most truthful, excuse folks have used to avoid the Pelicans is a lack of success in terms of wins and losses.
OK, I give you guys that one – this team has been pretty wretched.
But being wretched has given this city Anthony Davis, which means that New Orleans will be freed from 25-win seasons for the next five years.
Will the Pelicans win the NBA Title in 2014-15? Nah, they won’t. In fact, I don’t even think that they’ll make the playoffs.
But that doesn’t mean that this team isn’t worthy of our support. That doesn’t mean that this team isn’t worth a $20 trip to New Orleans for three hours of NBA action.
What else will you do without football on the tube?
Go out and watch the Pels.
The excuses are all gone. It’s time to pony up and go support our state’s second pro sports team.
That’d be the best Christmas gift any of you in the Houma-Thibodaux could ever give me this holiday season.