Pelicans players excited for All-Star 2014
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
The first New Orleans Pelicans season has been marked by a distinct what-could-have-been feeling, with injuries preventing the team from playing at full strength for virtually all of 2013-14. After bringing together young and promising talents Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans, that quintet rarely has been on the floor together.
Although Davis has earned the franchise’s first All-Star berth since 2011, the host team’s participation at this week’s midseason NBA extravaganza was also impacted negatively by injuries. First-year Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday, an All-Star last season with Philadelphia, would have been an obvious invitee for Saturday’s skills challenge (Holiday was runner-up in ’13 to Damian Lillard), but he’s currently sidelined by an injury.
Meanwhile, Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson was a no-brainer to represent New Orleans in Saturday’s three-point shootout, but Anderson is also injured and may miss the rest of 2013-14. In his second season in a New Orleans uniform, Anderson ranks No. 2 in the NBA in three-pointers made per game (3.0), trailing only Golden State’s Stephen Curry (3.4). Anderson was chosen for each of the previous two three-point contests.
As a result, Davis – who is joining Lillard in playing in both Friday’s Rising Stars game and Sunday’s All-Star Game – is the lone Pelicans player representative for the host city. That doesn’t mean you won’t see New Orleans players at numerous events over the next several days, however. Virtually every member of the roster who decided to stay in town for All-Star festivities is making a public appearance, including volunteering at community events and spending time greeting fans and signing autographs.
Davis, Gordon, Evans, forward Al-Farouq Aminu, forward Darius Miller, injured center Jason Smith, guard Austin Rivers and guard Brian Roberts are among the New Orleans players who will be part of autograph sessions and/or community events around the Crescent City over the next few days.
Gordon, who participated in or attended All-Star weekend in each of his first three NBA seasons, said one of the best parts of the event is being able to meet fans in a more relaxed setting. The Pelicans are off as a team until next week and don’t play again until Wednesday vs. New York in the Smoothie King Center.
“It’s always fun to be able to interact with fans,” Gordon said. “There are going to be so many places around the city where we’ll be able to do that. All-Star weekend has always been a lot of fun.”
“Having All-Star weekend is good for the city, and New Orleans is a great city to host an event like that,” Pelicans newcomer Luke Babbitt said. “It’s great to be the host city, especially for the fans getting to enjoy it. That’s what I’m most looking forward to.”
The weekend will come to an exciting conclusion for Davis’ teammates Sunday evening, when several Pelicans plan to attend the All-Star Game to support the 20-year-old breakout star.
“I’m pretty excited for him,” said Miller, also a college teammate of Davis at the University of Kentucky. “I probably wasn’t going to go to the All-Star Game, but now I have to go. I think he deserves it, so I’m happy.”
“I’ve never been to the All-Star Game itself, so I’m looking forward to it,” said Evans, a past participant in the Rising Stars game and the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year. “But the main reason I want to go is to support AD.”
“Having AD in the All-Star Game, it’s definitely going to be cool to watch,” Aminu said.