Hornets Host Fan Appreciation Day for Season Ticket Holders

As Robin Lopez and Ryan Anderson sat on a temporary stage in the New Orleans Saints’ cavernous practice facility – directly under a gigantic mural of Saints head coach Sean Payton – it seemed inevitable that the conversation would turn to football. During a question-and-answer session early in the two-hour Hornets Fan Appreciation Day event on Saturday, March 2, one curious season ticket holder asked the players, “If you guys played football, what position would you play?”

“Well, both of our knees would be done during the first quarter of the first game,” a laughing Anderson responded, appearing to acknowledge how dangerous it would be for a 6-foot-10 man to be roaming around a gridiron. “I probably wouldn’t be able to play very many games. Realistically, I think I could make a great tight end – for about five minutes.”

Lopez, a 7-footer who is listed at 255 pounds, was even more pragmatic in describing the role he envisions for himself on a football team. “I would be the guy on the sideline whose job it is to look huge and act crazy,” the grinning Stanford University product said. “I would be there to intimidate the other team, and that’s it. Because once I got on the field, I would be torn apart! I would never actually go on the field, because you can’t let that mystique (of being frightening to the opponent) be ruined.”

Along with each member of the Hornets’ roster and coaching staff, Anderson and Lopez provided fans with a glimpse of a different side of their personalities at Fan Appreciation Day, which was held in Metairie for the first time. All 13 players attended and spent the afternoon signing autographs, posing for photos and participating in fun-filled activities with fans, such as Pop-A-Shot and video games.

As the fun-filled event reached its conclusion, the New Orleans guard duo of Austin Rivers and Roger Mason Jr. took over the stage from Lopez and Anderson. Rivers and Mason were also posed a question about their football backgrounds, generating a humorous response from Rivers, an Orlando area native who is listed at 200 pounds but appears lighter.

“The last time I tried to play football, I was only out there for about 30 minutes,” Rivers recalled, smiling. “I don’t know if you guys know this, but Florida high school football is really serious. As you can see, I’m skinny. Back then, I was like 70 pounds. I was really light. There were these 200-pound dudes running around with dreads. I was like, ‘Uh, I’m out of here.’ I quit after 30 minutes.”