One thing that I know I mentioned before is my love for New Orleans professional sports. I love the Saints and the Pelicans, but even though they haven’t been around as long, I think I hold the Pelicans closer to my heart. I obviously wasn’t there during the early days of the Saints, so I don’t have that connection with them like I do with the Pels. Another factor is that Matt and I have been given more opportunities to interact with the Pelicans/Hornets players, so that helps me to feel closer to them. When it comes to the Pelicans I feel like a protective mother bear and the team is my cub. (*insert cub noises here*)
On Saturday, March 8, Matt and I were invited to go to the very first New Orleans Pelicans Fan Appreciation Day! (We did go to a similar event last year, but they were still the Hornets at that point in time.)
We arrived extra early, so we were very close to the front of the line to get into the event, which is held on the Saints indoor practice field. (That place is HUGE!) Since we were so early we were able to witness Jason Smith ride by on a golf cart! Jason was hurt and had knee surgery this year, so he wasn’t walking around the area this year. We also were able to get a good look at Pierre the Pelican’s new and improved beak!
The doors opened at 2 o’clock, and Matt and I decided to scope out the stations before deciding what to do first. Most of the stations were the same or similar to last year. The big addition to this year was the tour of the team’s brand new, state of the art practice facility. Matt and I were definitely going to go on the tour, but first we wanted to see some players!
Right away we noticed when Jason Smith was back in the building. He went to the stage, so that is where we headed first. Since not everyone was in yet we were able to snag two front row seats! Jason Smith came out on the stage early to get settled in, and Matt didn’t hesitate in making eye contact. Matt mimed some moves imitating Jason’s crutches, and Jason responded to him. I can’t really describe it besides it was funny, and from that moment on, I couldn’t stop smiling. Before some other players joined Jason on the stage, someone from behind the screen threw a small basketball at Jason. They continued to throw the ball back and forth for a bit, but the Jason threw the ball to us! Yay for free souvenirs!
Soon some of the other players joined Nicole and Jason (hosts) on the stage for a little bit of fun.
Greg Stiemsma, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Alexis Anjinca were the first team members up. They had a quick Q&A with the fans, then a short game, and that was followed by Jason giving his teammates weird awards. I love seeing the players interact with each other in a setting that isn’t a basketball court because they always seem to have so much fun. After this segment Matt and I were going to head to the practice facility tour, but we decided to stick around when we noticed that Anthony Davis was with the next group of players to come up.
This segment was with Davis, Luke Babbitt, and Brian Roberts. There was no game for this group, but the Q&A was longer. It got interesting when someone asked Davis who on the team was his favorite person to go one on one with during practice. His response was Austin Rivers, and he made sure to say it loud enough that Austin heard him from his station. This led to Austin coming over to give his response, and it was interesting to watch them go back and forth about it. When this group left Matt and I once again planned to go do the tour until we saw who was coming up next.
Tyreke Evans, Anthony Morrow, and Ryan Anderson were up! This one was modeled after the first group with a short Q&A followed by a game. They played “Heads Up,” which is a game where one person has to describe something for their partner to guess. The guys that were set to describe the word weren’t the best at describing them, but it was hilarious. Anthony Morrow and Ryan Anderson ended up winning with only one point.
When Jason Smith handed out his mini awards for these guys, Ryan Anderson was given the “Most Likely to Break Out in Song” award. I’m glad that I decided to use the video feature on my phone for this one.
(I hope this works since I have never posted a video before.)
In between segments Matt and I went and asked Jason Smith to record a greeting to my cousin and her daughter. It was so cute, and he went above and beyond just saying hi while looking at my phone. I won’t post the video, so you’ll have to trust me that it was great!
After that we went get something to eat and then finally headed off to get a tour of the practice facility. They were taking small groups of about 20 at a time, so we had to wait for a bit before our turn.
We were able to see the locker room, film room, weight room, and practice courts.While there we ran into Pierre again, and this time we made sure to get a picture with him! Also, Alexis Ajinca was on the practice court for photos. I always feel so tiny while standing next to these guys! When we went up to Alexis for our photo, Matt went in for a high-five, so Alexis put his hand up in the air...way beyond Matt's reach, haha! After Matt and I took our photo, a lady from our group came up to me to tell me how cute our photo looked since I only went up to his waist. The picture was the end of the tour.
We had about 30 minutes until the event closed, so Matt and I headed back to the Saints practice field to see if anything interesting was going on over there. We found ourselves back at the stage just in time to watch Jason Smith, Ryan Anderson, and two fans play another game. This one was a family feud type game, where you named as many thing that matched the topic as you could in a certain amount of time. I didn't take any photos of that game, but it was fun to watch, of course! Before leaving, we wondered over to a game to see who could make the most shots between Matt and myself. I won't keep you in suspense, Matt won. ;)
After that it was time to head home. I can't wait until next year!!
See you next time!