Alvin Gentry on contract extension: ‘I love it here, love the city, love the team’

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

As a resident of New Orleans’ Lower Garden District, Alvin Gentry’s favorite Mardi Gras experience has been walking through his neighborhood, only to be stopped numerous times by parade attendees, asking if he’d like something to eat.

“When I leave my house and walk five blocks, there are 50 people offering me food,” Gentry said, smiling. “And it’s really, really good food.”

Gentry received a similarly warm reception Friday morning at the Boys & Girls Club in Gretna. As he stepped to the microphone to speak to an assembly of children, an adult in the back of the room yelled “New contract!” It was a reference to Gentry’s two-year extension the Pelicans officially announced less than 24 hours earlier.

Speaking to New Orleans media, the three-year Pelicans head coach said he was thrilled to sign the contract extension. New Orleans compiled its best season in 10 years, winning a playoff series for the first time since 2008 and going 48-34 in the regular season, including going 20-8 after Feb. 10.

“It’s great,” Gentry said of the extension. “I love it here, love the city, love the team. I think we did a lot of really good things last year. When you’ve got good camaraderie like we had in the locker room, guys have a tendency to come together and you can do really, really good things.”

Asked by WDSU-NBC reporter Fletcher Mackel about the significance of signing a contract extension at age 63 – although both Gregg Popovich and Mike D’Antoni are several years older – Gentry noted that he still has zest for the game and his job.

“I feel like I’ve got a ton of energy,” the North Carolina native said. “I love being around the game. I love what we accomplished (in 2017-18). We still have another level we can get to. Obviously having consistency in the roster will really help. Being healthy will really help. But I feel great about the fact that I am 63 and was able to get a contract extension. For them to have that kind of confidence in me is really good.”

Gentry is also looking forward to continuing to experience life in the Crescent City. An assistant coach for the New Orleans Hornets for one season prior to Hurricane Katrina, Gentry lived in suburban Slidell and enjoyed it, but decided when he returned as head coach to move close to the heart of the city. He’s been pleased with that decision, which has given him the opportunity to see many local traditions, including Mardi Gras.

“I didn’t know New Orleans at all,” Gentry said of coming back to the Big Easy in 2015. “I wanted to really experience New Orleans (this time). We live right in the Lower Garden District, where I can walk to 10 great restaurants. And I have about 200,000 of my closest friends right in my neighborhood during Mardi Gras. It’s an experience you can’t have in any other city. This is the most unique city in the United States.”