Jrue Holiday could be Drew Brees for the New Orleans Pelicans

Drew Brees signed a deal to remain with the Saints on Tuesday and the New Orleans Pelicans should be thinking about how Jrue Holiday can follow suit.

In the history of sports in the Big Easy, basketball stars haven’t been the subject of honors; that’s been saved for football stars like Drew Brees, Rickey Jackson, and even coach Ed Orgeron. Now, as the New Orleans Pelicans rise to power, Jrue Holiday could become that local hoops hero.

While the New Orleans Saints have long held the hearts of this city in close check, hosting one of the loudest bunches of fans in the NFL, the Pelicans are just beginning to get tails in seats, mostly fueled by the arrival of Zion Williamson.

The Saints have historically done a better job keeping star power around; Pelicans fans witnessed generational stars in Chris Paul (during the Hornets era) and Anthony Davis depart on contentious terms.

However, in Jrue Holiday, the New Orleans Pelicans have a really unique chance to keep their leader in town.

Jrue seems to be following the model of Drew Brees, or at least in a certain sense. Both started in another situation before being driven out by circumstance.

Playing his first five seasons as a member of the San Diego Chargers, Brees eventually signed a new deal with the New Orleans Saints after many teams were scared away by damage to his rotator cuff.

Brees is a Dallas, Texas native, a city centered around the Cowboys; Brees became the greatest Saint ever.

For Holiday, it was four early seasons spent as a Philadelphia 76er but was traded to New Orleans as the first piece of the process.

He’s signed a pair of extensions since and was in the midst of his seventh season with the New Orleans Pelicans before the global pandemic suspended play.

Jrue is a Los Angeles, California native, a city centered around the Lakers; Jrue is already on track to become the greatest Pelican ever (sorry, not sorry, AD).

Both have shown resilience in wanting to stick in their situations despite rocky times and meager rosters. Brees has seen some morbid seasons in New Orleans where his defense was basically parchment paper, where Holiday has witnessed some absolute roster-building fiascos.

If Jrue Holiday wants to spend the rest of his career with the New Orleans Pelicans, there should be motivation from both sides to make it happen.

Keeping in mind that Gayle Benson is the primary owner of both the Pelicans and Saints, the organization should look across their own training facility and witness what their football counterparts are doing right; keeping their leader in friendly colors.

Signing a two-year extension on Tuesday afternoon, the Saints inked their 41-year-old quarterback to a deal that seems likely to be the last before his retirement.

Neither man is the best player on their team right now; while they’re surpassed by their teammates in certain areas of talent, they make up in leadership and hard work.

For much of their history, the New Orleans Pelicans have lived under the shadow of football in the great state of Louisiana. Many fans are almost constantly focused on the New Orleans Saints and LSU Tigers.

However, as the landscape of sports continues to bring basketball players into the pop culture world, it’s getting harder for the city to ignore the excitement surrounding the Pelicans.

Sure, Zion Williamson is at the top of the media totem pole among Pelicans players, but when you look at what this team has been historically and how they got to this point, it’s impossible to ignore the impact Jrue Holiday had on this franchise.

Much like Brees, Holiday continues to reaffirm that he wouldn’t want to play anywhere else, making it clear that he’ll stay with the New Orleans Pelicans until he’s pushed out by the organization.

The subject of many mock trades around the NBA Trade Deadline, Jrue Holiday continued to say the right things and the organization was happy to shut down any possible speculation surrounding his dealing.

The reality is that Holiday is 29-years-old (ten younger than Brees) and his contract is set to expire after the 2020-2021 season. For the New Orleans Pelicans, it’d be tricky to replace his basketball brilliance, but nearly impossible to replace what he brings as a leader.

While Brees already brought a championship to the city of New Orleans, Jrue Holiday is finally around a core of players who have the ability to chase a ring (even if it takes a few years).

Keeping a stable force like Holiday in the New Orleans Pelicans organization just makes too much sense and looking at Drew Brees just makes it more obvious that the Pelicans will benefit from having a veteran leader on their side.

The remainder of the 2019-2020 season is uncertain, but monitoring Jrue Holiday’s effort to bond and get comfortable with his young teammates has been wonderful to watch. The future is bright for the New Orleans Pelicans, but part of its illumination is driven by Jrue.