Is New Orleans a ‘Basketball City?’ Anything is possible with this Pelicans team

After starting with an NBA-worst 1-12 record, new head coach Willie Green led the Pelicans to their first playoff berth in since 2018.

NEW ORLEANS – Whenever the New Orleans Pelicans fight their way into the national spotlight, fans know what to expect from the national pundits.

We’ve all heard that New Orleans “isn’t a basketball city” and that the NBA would be better off moving the team to somewhere like Seattle or Las Vegas.

But if you were in the Smoothie King Center when the Pelicans beat the Spurs Wednesday night or just in the city when they beat the Clippers for a playoff berth, you know better.

“If you come out here and see right now, every single day here at Napoleon and Magazine we’re playing basketball,” New Orleans musician Alfred Banks said while taking a break from a pickup game Uptown. “We love the sport, it’s in our blood.”

That court is always busy, but with an exciting young Pelicans team going into the playoffs, the crowd of players and spectators was even bigger than usual.

“It’s giving a lot of people heart and thinking they can get out there and be MJ,” Banks said. “They have that heart and have that confidence because of what the hometown team is doing right now.”

After starting with an NBA-worst 1-12 record, new head coach Willie Green led the Pelicans to their first playoff berth in since 2018.

Brandon Ingram is arguably the best season of his career. CJ McCollum is thriving in his new role as a starting point guard. Second-round pick Herb Jones could make the NBA’s All-Defense team. Undrafted rookie Jose Alvarado is closing out major games.

It seems like anything is possible with this Pelicans team.

Even turning a city known for it’s football team into basketball team.

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