Media Day: Players excited to be back in NOLA

Friday, September 26, 2008
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

Over 100 times during home games last season, Hornets fans watched team staff members race around the New Orleans Arena, brandishing those ubiquitous, giant “Peja heads” on sticks, after another successful three-pointer by Peja Stojakovic.

The same unique scene took place Friday morning in the arena, except this time the person holding the enormous cardboard Stojakovic likeness was a 6-foot-10 guy, who looked eerily like Hornets reserve center Melvin Ely.

As Stojakovic walked onto the court to get some of his Media Day photos taken, he immediately stopped and began laughing. At the other end of the floor, Ely stood in front of a huge green screen, getting filmed jogging back and forth across a 15-foot area while holding a Peja head.

“Every (Hornets player) has been wanting to run with one,” Ely said of getting to joke around on-camera with the Peja-on-a-stick. “I’m just glad I got to be the first one to do it.

“One thing I love about this team is that everybody can take a joke,” a smiling Ely said of Stojakovic’s good-natured reaction to seeing Ely with the Peja head. “That was the first joke (of the season), but it won’t be the last.”

Every member of the 16-player training camp roster posed for pictures Friday and conducted interviews with TV, radio and newspaper reporters. On a team that appears to have tremendous chemistry off the court, several Hornets said they were excited to be back together as a group for the first time since May.

“This team is extremely playful,” Ely said. “We think of each other as brothers, and we act like kids. But on the court, it’s a whole other ballgame. As soon we hit the court, it’s all business.”

Sims, Jordan added to training camp roster

The Hornets announced they have signed free agents Courtney Sims and Jared Jordan to training camp contracts. Per team policy, terms of the contract were not released. The addition of Sims and Jordan puts the Hornets’ training camp roster at 16.

Sims (6-11, 245) played three games for the Indiana Pacers last season before being signed by the NBDL’s Iowa Energy. The center averaged 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Energy and shot 64.4 percent from the field. The former Michigan Wolverine never missed a contest in his collegiate career, playing 133 consecutive games. He finished sixth all-time with 111 career starts, and second all-time with 213 blocked shots. Sims finished his career with 1,329 points and 728 rebounds.

Sims is a native of Roslindale, Mass., and was undrafted by an NBA franchise in the 2007 NBA Draft.

Jordan (6-2, 190) saw action in six preseason games last year for the New York Knicks prior to playing in 11 games for Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania), where he averaged 1.0 points and 0.8 assists in 8.2 minutes per game. A graduate of Marist (N.Y.), the guard led the country in assists for two-straight seasons, becoming the first NCAA Division I player to do so since Avery Johnson, former coach of the Dallas Mavericks. He averaged 8.7 assists per game for his career and won the 74th Haggerty Award as the 2006-07 All-Metropolitan Division I men’s college basketball player of the year.

Jordan is a native of Hartford, Conn., and was drafed in the second round (45th overall) by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2007 NBA Draft.