Pelicans still stuck in Indiana on Monday afternoon
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Sub-zero temperatures in Minneapolis. Significant snowfall in Boston, causing local authorities to essentially shut down the city overnight. A second epic snowstorm in Indianapolis two days later.
It’s safe to say that the New Orleans Pelicans’ experience off the court this week hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. Like thousands of other early-January travelers, the team ran into weather-related logistical issues that altered and canceled flights. But in the Pelicans’ case, their Dec. 31-Jan. 5 itinerary – which traversed through the Upper Midwest, Northeast and back to the Midwest – somehow managed to put them in the crosshairs of some of the least-hospitable weather in three separate cities.
You know a road trip is going poorly weather-wise when it actually deteriorates after departing frigid Minneapolis, but that’s what happened to the Pelicans, who flew to the Gopher State on New Year’s Eve. Though the temperatures certainly were not conducive to any outdoor activity, dropping well below zero, the 48 hours in Minnesota were relatively uneventful compared to the team’s stops in Boston and Indiana.
After playing the Timberwolves on New Year’s Day, the Pelicans’ team flight to Boston on Thursday was moved up by a few hours in order to get to Massachusetts ahead of a major blizzard. The Pelicans settled into their hotel just before heavy snowfall began to accumulate. Players and coaches who switched on their TVs watched as local TV stations broadcast Boston’s mayor urging citizens to stay indoors and avoid unnecessary travel.
By Friday evening, the conditions improved enough for the Pelicans to face the Celtics and register a 95-92 victory. The Pelicans headed to Indianapolis about an hour after the final buzzer, only to hear reports that another impending snowstorm was expected to hit the Hoosier State. Following Saturday’s loss to the Pacers, the Pelicans woke up Sunday morning to see significant snow accumulation that had fallen overnight.
Then things really got bad.
After a precarious bus trip to the Indianapolis airport through snow-filled roads – and a good-natured, impromptu snowball fight, apparently started by Pelicans Coach Monty Williams – the team sat on its plane for two hours while crews tried to de-ice the aircraft and clear snow from the runway, to no avail. After checking out of their hotel in downtown Indianapolis, the entire team had to check back into the same hotel to stay overnight Sunday.
Expecting to be able to leave for Miami on Monday morning, the Pelicans’ initial 8 a.m. flight was pushed back to noon – but even that didn’t go as planned. As of 3 p.m. Eastern time Monday, the team was still sitting in the Indianapolis airport terminal, waiting for its plane to be readied for take-off. With over 90 percent of flights canceled from and into Indianapolis, they had virtually the entire terminal areas to themselves.
If the Pelicans are unable to get out of Indianapolis today, they’d have to try to fly on a gameday Tuesday, with a game scheduled against the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat at 7:30 p.m. Eastern in South Florida.