Hornets Veteran Additions Juiced for Home Opener

October 29, 2012

New Orleans Hornets forward Ryan Anderson doesn’t remember many details from his first NBA regular season game with the New Jersey Nets in October 2008. He can’t tell you the opponent, how many points he scored or even where the game was played – despite the fact that he was on the court that night in Washington, D.C., for 15 minutes. Instead, what stands out most to Anderson was the atmosphere in the arena.

“The first game, you get the chills,” Anderson described of his professional debut. “You run out into the arena (from the locker room) in front of a screaming crowd. You watch the opening video and see all the hype. It’s amazing to be a part of. You dream of that moment when you’re a kid. It was one of those moments where one of my teammates said, ‘If you don’t get the chills, there is something wrong with you.’ I’m excited about seeing that here in New Orleans.”

Opening night in the Crescent City promises to be a memorable one for players, coaches and fans on Wednesday (7 p.m. Central), with the game marking the beginning of a new chapter in team history. It’s safe to say Hornets players have had Oct. 31 circled on their calendars since the summer months.

“I’m really excited,” Hornets forward Hakim Warrick said. “Everywhere I go, everyone’s telling me how excited they are for the season. I’m really looking forward to it. There is a lot of excitement and a lot of buzz. There were a lot of questions last year with the ownership and where the team was going to be. But this is a young and exciting team. We feel like we can do some damage and make it to the playoffs.”

Like Anderson, Warrick’s recollection of his first game is a bit hazy; he only played two minutes in a November 2005 Heat-Grizzlies contest in Memphis. But like Anderson, the volume and participation of the crowd left a lasting impression.

“The first time you put on your jersey, or the first time you see your jersey hanging up in a locker, you always remember that,” Warrick related. “Preseason is good for guys, because you get used to playing in the NBA, but that first regular season game, you get chills. You know it’s real.

“I remember coming out of the locker room and seeing how excited the crowd was, just the atmosphere. The crowd was so into it. The atmosphere and introductions were crazy.”

For Anderson, Warrick and the Hornets’ other veteran players, Wednesday won’t be as nerve-wracking as their first-ever NBA appearance, but it will be their first home game as a member of the Hornets. They’re anxiously awaiting the chance to play in front of some of the same fans who’ve greeted them in the city or even on Twitter.

“We’re incredibly excited and ready to start the season,” Anderson said. “New Orleans is such a great sports city. To come to a city that really backs their team is exciting for me. People have been so great. Fans have been super excited. That makes us as players that much more excited, knowing how ready the fans are to back us up.”

“The thing that really struck me about New Orleans is how avid the fan base is for all of the sports teams around here,” said center Robin Lopez, who debuted with the Phoenix Suns in 2008 at San Antonio. “I’m really excited to see that energy and that passion on opening night.”