Jrue Holiday on Media Day

Off the Court: Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday

by Jim Eichenhofer

An 11-year veteran, New Orleans guard Jrue Holiday fills a unique role on his team’s roster, as the Pelicans player with the second-most NBA experience (only JJ Redick has been in the league longer). At 29, Holiday is also the fourth-oldest member of the squad (Redick, E’Twaun Moore and Darius Miller are older, with Miller by just two-plus months). The category in which Holiday has everyone “beat” among his teammates: His tenure in the Crescent City, having joined New Orleans via a July 2013 trade with Philadelphia. In fact, Holiday has been with the Pelicans longer than all but three of his current teammates have even been in the NBA (Redick, Moore, Derrick Favors are at least in their ninth seasons). The UCLA product – whose No. 11 jersey is worn by fans throughout the Gulf Coast – actually had a different number preference when he began as a pro, but circumstances and a potential charge got in the way. The player whose worn a Pelicans jersey longer than anyone joined Pelicans.com to discuss his background and interests away from the sport:

How he chose his current uniform number of 11: “Originally coming out of high school I wore 21 (and in college at UCLA). But going into Philadelphia as a rookie, I asked one of the veteran players if I could have 21 and he was like, ‘Yeah – I’ll sell it to you.’ I said, ‘No, thank you. I will change my number.’ So that’s how I got 11.”

Best moments as an athlete: “Winning three state championships in high school. That was pretty cool.”

Favorite thing about New Orleans: “The food. I’ve never had a bad meal here, ever. Also, the festivals are cool. My favorite is the Fried Chicken Fest. The Fried Chicken Fest is crazy (good).”

Pregame ritual: “Calling my wife and my daughter before the games.”

First job: “A professional basketball player. I tried to work at a grocery store, just to add a little bit of change to my pocket, but my mom was like, ‘No. School is your job.’ ”

Favorite athlete as a kid: “From a young age, I was a Lakers fan. So it was Magic Johnson, then it became Kobe Bryant. Now my favorite athlete is my wife (Lauren, a USA Soccer star). My wife is a beast.”

Favorite basketball memories from childhood: “Growing up and playing with my brothers was always fun. My younger brother Aaron is six years younger than me, so he was a lot smaller. But there came a point where he could handle his own. With him, as well as with my sister, we would play two-on-two. It wasn’t like we would completely fight and beat each other up, but it got really competitive.”

What it’s like having two brothers also playing in the NBA: “When my brothers come to play against us, it’s a cool experience for me, but also the whole family. My daughter loves to see them and she loves being on the court for some reason. Running back and forth to them, being able to hug them. At 2 years old, she can tell when my brothers are playing on TV. She loves them.”

What he misses most about his hometown: “Being from San Fernando Valley (in California), I’d say Mexican food. A good burrito, carne asada burritos or tacos.”

Biggest lesson from basketball: “Using the platform you have. There are so many people who would love to be in your position, to even be able to play this game. Use your platform for better and always give back.”

Favorite exercises besideds basketball: “I like to do a lot of things. I like to hike, swim, play tennis, volleyball, run (football) routes. I don’t like to run long distances per se – I think that’s stupid. [smiles] I also like getting into the gym and lifting weights.”

Subject he's knowledgeable about besides basketball: “I know a little bit about music. My family was musically inclined. My dad and his whole family played an instrument or sang. Obviously I was in gospel choir and all that. I was in jazz band. I had a drum set, grew up playing piano. I tried to play guitar, but I’m not that good at it.”

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