Last night the New Orleans Hornets hosted their Taste of New Orleans event for the Krewe of Hornets (aka season ticket holders). The invitation (pictured) promised we would “be served and entertained by the Hornets players and coaches.” Having never been to anything like this, I was highly skeptical that would actually be the case. But at the worst we were promised free food, music and prizes, so why not?
The event started at 6pm and my friend and I arrived about a quarter till. There was already a line of about 50 people waiting already and the lady in front of us was clipping her fingernails (ewww) while we waited. Finally, the line started moving and as we headed towards the entrance, team president, Hugh Weber, greeted us and thanked us for coming. My friend looked over at me. “Didn’t expect that. Good start,” he said. Oh yes. Which players were there? What went on? Did I happen to win some prizes? More after the jump…
Disclaimer: In the rest of this post you will see some pictures of me. Please try not to become blinded by my awesome, rugged, handsome looks. Think you can handle it? Well then, let’s do this…
As we walked in the Honey Bees handed us plates and a raffle ticket. Because it was early and no players were around yet, there was no lines for any of the food stations. The food was fantastic. Shrimp etouffe, crawfish and goat cheese crepes, gumbo, turtle soup, crab meat stuffed shells. There was also a very nice jazz band playing. Then the players started coming out.
The first players I saw were Aaron Gray, David Andersen and Jason Smith. They may be very tall but in person none of them look intimidating. Smith’s line was the smallest and he served us frozen yogurt. For whatever reason I think that fits perfectly. Next we went over to Gray. I told him a story about his Uncle who went to Duke with a friend’s father. Gray’s Uncle went over to my friend’s house one night for dinner, drank a lot, and then fell over and broke their piano bench. Aaron thought it was hilarious and thanked us for giving him dirt on his Uncle. Hustling over to another player we ran into Monty Williams.
The players were under orders not to take pictures with the guests (we tried and were shot down by their nice liaisons) but Monty was more than willing. We thanked him for all he has done for the team, told him we loved his defensive-first mentality, asked him what his thinks of New Orleans (he loves it), shook his hand and left him to the rest of the season ticket holders.
We walked around some more and saw DJ Mbenga and Marco Belinelli serving up food. We were happy to be able to interact with the players, but a little star power was missing. Maybe that’s normal for this type of event. I doubt Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol have to attend anything like this. Then we turned around and BAM! David West. We looked to our left and BOOM! Chris Paul. It’s fantastic that even the star players were at this event. I told West that if he resigned with the team I’d resign and renew my tickets (even though I already have). He gave me a fake laugh for my ego.
Unlike when we first walked in, the lines were now making serpentine patterns all over the place. It became hard to move around. If I could give any advice on how to improve the event it would be to hold it in a larger area.
We headed down to the stage area and (what luck!) found an open table where we hung out and talked with a few people who stopped by to eat their food. The stage lit up, the music dimmed and Hugh Weber walked on stage and talked about the I’m In campaign.
There was a young lady who was running around asking people if they wanted to participate in events on stage. She found two couples and led them up the stairs. Rice Nice came on the stage and hosted a game called Family Food which in which the two couples competed against each other for a trip to Las Vegas. Jason Smith was on one team and Carl Landry was on the other.
New Orleans celebrity chef John Besh gave a live cooking demonstration next. He cooked Shrimp Creole and gave samples out to the ladies in the area.
The next event was a cocktail making contest which was kind of boring. My friend and I went to get something to drink and on the way found a photo booth. We looked inside saw Emeka Okafor and no line to take pictures with him. We quickly jumped in line. To the left you can see how I stack up to Okafor. I feel like I’m holding my own against him. On another note, he and I need to star in a sitcom together. Call it “Emeka and Me.” You’d watch it right? HOLLYWOOD MAKE THIS HAPPEN!
As the night was winding down, the young lady who was asking people to participate in events came up to me and asked if I wanted to take part in a beer tasting competition. YES. She led me over to two other gentlemen whom I would be competing against.
We walked on stage, were blindfolded, and led to a table which had nine cups of beer, three in front of each of us. The rules: Each person was assigned a brand of beer. Guy 1 had Miller beers, Guy 2 had Abita beers and I had Anheuser-Busch beers. You taste each of your three beers and then need to guess which one is which specific beer. Guy 1 guessed 2 out of 3 correctly. Guy 2 went 3 for 3. When it came to me I tried my beers and my choices were Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. I guessed all three correctly. Since the Hornets were so gracious, every one was a winner and we each won a night stay at the Harrah’s hotel and a $150 gift certificate to Besh Steakhouse.
Overall the night gets an A, a larger space would have been an A+. Aside from the game and beer garden, this is absolutely one of the reasons to be IN and become a season ticket holder.
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I don’t think we’ll be doing a preview tomorrow since the Hornets are 0-a lot when we do. But I’ll be with you all for the recap.
Finally I will leave you with the Hornets intro video from earlier in the season.