Opinion: New Orleans owes a lot to Anthony Davis


Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis dunks during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Sam Lucio

In about 12 days, the day before Thanksgiving, the New Orleans Pelicans will be playing a game here in town in the Smoothie King Center. Normally, this would be like any other game in the 82 game-long season, but this one will feel different for a lot of people, especially the ones in attendance.

This game is different. This is the game that Anthony Davis returns to New Orleans.

Even mentioning the name Anthony Davis nowadays will cause people to roll their eyes, shake their heads in contempt and even say some nonsense about how he wasn’t even good for us. I can’t even necessarily complain about these people’s sentiment toward this city’s once-beloved superstar. In a way, they aren’t wrong. Anthony Davis’ last year playing for the Pelicans was turbulent to say the least. Davis demanded a trade (the day after the no call in the NFC Championship by the way) with just a few weeks before the trade deadline, leaving the now fired general manager Dell Demps scrambling. On top of this, Davis and his agent passive aggressively bullied the Pelicans into only engaging with the Los Angeles Lakers which not only led to weeks of leaked trade rumors, but also destroyed the Lakers’ team chemistry eventually leading to Lakers’ President Magic Johnson quitting. To make matters worse, the debacle continued with the Pelicans benching Davis in 4th quarters and Davis flipping-off a Pelicans fan and wearing a “That’s All Folks” shirt to the last home game of the year.

Yeah, it was definitely a turbulent year to say the least.

But with all of that being said, however, New Orleans owes a lot to Anthony Davis and we shouldn’t boo him when he returns to New Orleans.

People forget what absolutely awful state the Pelicans (back then Hornets) were in before Anthony Davis came to New Orleans. People forget that the previous owner of the franchise basically bailed on the city and left the NBA in control of the team, who then nearly moved the team to another city. Not many people even remember the “I’m In” campaign which if you read between the lines sounded like the NBA begging the city to care about the team.

I specifically remember a game I went to in the 2011 season against the Boston Celtics. The Hornets trotted out a 21-45 win team with players like Carl Landry, Greivis Vasquez, Gustavo Ayon, Jarret Jack and Chris Kaman. If you don’t recognize any of these players, that’s okay, neither did the rest of the NBA. This particular game I went to, I remember how empty the arena was. The atmosphere was so flat and the people there felt resigned to the fact they weren’t going to watch anything remotely good. Tickets were stupidly cheap and the arena was so empty that you could buy a ticket in the nosebleeds and sit in the 100 level. No one in that arena cared, that’s how bad it was.

Anthony Davis brought life back to the city. Anthony Davis gave fans something to cheer for.

People don’t understand how unfathomably lucky they’ve been in this whole Anthony Davis breakup. The Pelicans, after trading Anthony Davis, could have easily been stuck in mediocre, small-market purgatory but instead, the basketball gods gifted us Zion Williamson. Most small-market teams, after losing a superstar, would be clawing their way back to relevance for half a decade, but not us. We actually have good management now and a team with real players.

So instead of booing Anthony Davis on Nov. 27, be happy with the future that he has left us with, because I certainly don’t want to go back to 2011.