Pelicans award draft lottery good-luck charm holder with free season tickets for 2019-20

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

She received multiple shout outs from her favorite basketball team on its social media accounts, as well as from a prominent club executive on national television. Still, if there were any doubts whether Metairie resident Connie Halphen has reached celebrity status, those were erased May 15, when a video interview with her appeared on… wait for it… TMZ’s website.

After Halphen’s ceramic angel brought the New Orleans Pelicans amazing fortune during the May 14 NBA draft lottery, the mother of three grown children received a text message from an unfamiliar phone number. Someone working for the gossip show wanted to interview her about her role in New Orleans winning the No. 1 pick, despite having only 6 percent odds.

“I didn’t even know what TMZ was,” a laughing Halphen said Tuesday. “(After her video appeared on TMZ), one of my daughter’s friends told me, ‘My husband just saw you on TMZ, and I don’t know what’s more weird – that my husband was watching TMZ, or that you’re on TMZ!’ ”

In the week since Halphen’s good-luck charm paid off immensely for New Orleans – Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin carried the angel on stage with him in Chicago – she’s had a number of unusual experiences, including a local newspaper reporter showing up unannounced at her home to talk. Halphen’s husband answered the door; she wasn’t home at the time.

“At some point, you need to call first,” Halphen good-naturedly said of the unprompted visitor, again laughing. “This is the South – (it’s good manners that) you call first!”

Halphen received more exciting and unexpected news Tuesday, when she was invited to the Pelicans’ offices and practice facility by the team. There, Griffin and head coach Alvin Gentry gave Halphen a tour, but they also had a special surprise for her – Pelicans Owner Gayle Benson is giving Halphen two free season tickets for 2019-20, as a sign of her appreciation.

Halphen has used the angel for 57 years to bring her family good luck. Fortuitously, the only reason she was even aware the Pelicans were seeking a good-luck charm for lottery night was she opened an e-mail from them in early May.

“I don’t normally get e-mails from them,” she explained. “For some reason, I read it and told them about my little angel. She’s always been a comfort to me. I thought, ‘Let’s see if she can help (the Pelicans).’ ”

After learning of her gift of season tickets, Halphen said she's excited for basketball season to begin in the fall. She and her husband will now get to watch New Orleans’ No. 1 overall draft pick make his NBA debut, a player who is a Pelican partly due to her lucky charm. She vows to bring the angel with her to each game she attends in the Smoothie King Center.

“I have gone to Hornets and Pelicans games in the past, but not in a while,” a smiling Halphen said. “This is going to be great. We are going to enjoy ourselves, and I’m thrilled. That angel’s going to be in my purse every time I go (for good luck). Hopefully the players speak for themselves (in terms of winning the game), but it never hurts to have a little backup.”

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