Off the Court: Pelicans guard Elfrid Payton

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

No current roster member of the New Orleans Pelicans knows the Crescent City and Pelican State better than Elfrid Payton, a native of Gretna, which is located across the Mississippi River from downtown and the Smoothie King Center. The 24-year-old – who also proudly sports a Fleur de Bee tattoo on a bicep from when the Hornets were the city’s NBA franchise – attended college in-state as well. Payton was a standout for the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in Lafayette, roughly a two-hour drive from the Big Easy. The avid New Orleans Saints fan discussed his background and some of his interests away from basketball recently with Pelicans.com:

Best moments as an athlete: “Winning a gold medal for the under-19 USA Basketball team. Jahlil Okafor was on that team as well. Also, winning my conference championship in college in New Orleans, to get us into the NCAA Tournament.”

How he chose his current uniform number of 4: “Honestly, I wanted to wear 2, but Ian Clark already had it here. I had worn 4 in middle school and for the USA team, so it’s always been a different number I could use. And 2 plus 2 is 4.” [smiles]

One thing fans might be surprised to know about him: “I can juggle. I picked it up in college, during a physical education class. I wanted to be a teacher, and that was one of the courses we had to take.”

Favorite thing about New Orleans: “The food, culture and of course, Mardi Gras.”

Pregame ritual: “I pray before every game. I actually don’t listen to music on gamedays. I like to be focused and zoned in.”

First job: “I went to Brother Martin (high school) for two years. To help pay my tuition, I did work-study, serving drinks in the cafeteria.”

Favorite athletes as a kid: “Allen Iverson – how tough he was and his ability to do the things he did at that size. Also, Deion Sanders.”

What he’d be doing if he weren’t an NBA player: “I’d probably be a math teacher.”

Closest friends currently playing on other NBA teams: “Kyle O’Quinn and Victor Oladipo of Indiana; T.J. Warren of Phoenix; Mo Harkless of Portland; Aaron Gordon of Orlando.”

Favorite type of music: “I like hip-hop and R&B. I like Lil Wayne, Drake, J. Cole.”

Favorite TV shows of all time: “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin. More recently, I like Power.”

Favorite movies of all time: “The Godfather and Friday movies, Inception.”

Favorite phone apps: “Instagram, Twitter.”