Pelicans are changing the narrative about basketball in New Orleans

CJ McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers and Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
CJ McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers and Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

For years fans of the New Orleans Pelicans have had to endure being called a “poverty franchise,” and a team no star player would ever want to play for.

It was fair in some regards, as the Pelicans don’t have a strong history of being able to hold onto to their top guys.

Chris Paul eventually requested a trade after the franchise went through a tumultuous period with ownership, and Anthony Davis whined his way out of town after the Pelicans were unable to build a contender around him.

Even Jrue Holiday, one of the most loyal players New Orleans has ever had, was eventually shipped out, making fans wonder if there was ever going to be a star long term in New Orleans.

It’s always been a football town, a unique culture that isn’t for everyone, as there isn’t the glam and glitz of LA or the basketball history of New York.

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But those days are starting to change, as the Pelicans’ are building their own basketball culture in the city and putting these tired arguments to rest.

New Orleans Pelicans: A basketball town is born

It started when the Pelicans jettisoned the disgruntled Anthony Davis in one of the biggest trades the NBA has ever seen.

The Pels reaped a pile of draft picks and several young players including Brandon Ingram. Ingram blossomed into a star in New Orleans, and quickly ended any fears he didn’t want to stay by signing a max contract to remain in New Orleans through the 2024-25 season.

Next up was Zion Williamson, one of the most hyped prospects in years, a guy who would surely leave for the big lights of New York the first chance he could get. His entire early career was mired in these types of rumors, with Knicks’ fans convincing themselves that another big star would leave a small market and they might benefit (remind me why ANYONE would want to play for the Knicks again?)

The rumors intensified when reports surfaced that Zion wasn’t happy with how New Orleans handled his first injury and Pels’ fans were thinking here we go again. But once again a young star committed to New Orleans when Zion killed those rumors by signing a max deal to stay in the Crescent City.

Now CJ McCollum, one of the most well-liked and respected veterans in the league, has committed to the Pelicans for the next four seasons, giving the Pels’ one of the best Big 3’s in the Western Conference along with the stability that has been missing for most of the franchise’s history.

With a young core of talented players around them and a pile of future draft picks, the Pelicans are in the position to be good for a very long time. The stars are buying-in and the Pels are showing the past is not always prelude to the future.

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