The 2018 - 2019 NBA season was a rough one for the New Orleans Pelicans. And that's part of what made the team's unlikely Draft Lottery victory Tuesday night such a triumph.
No one better encapsulated the organization's excitement and relief than head coach Alvin Gentry, who was on-hand to observe the proceedings on behalf of the Pelicans.
"It was pretty much utter silence as soon as Kiki VanDeWeghe [NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations] started talking about the process of the Lottery and everything, and then the lottery balls started rattling around," reported The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor on the latest Ringer NBA Show.
"And the numbers come out, and New Orleans Pelicans get announced as the No. 1 pick," O'Connor continues, before describing the Pelican's coach's celebration. "And then Alvin Gentry screams, 'F--k yeah!' (Laughs) He stands up and he stretches his arms out, like, 'Are you not entertained?' And then he quietly says, 'Sorry,' and goes back to his seat. Everybody in the room is laughing and cheering the whole time."
After stumbling early in the highly-competitive western conference and falling out of playoff contention, the Pelican's star player, Anthony Davis, humiliated the franchise by publicly requesting a trade. The Pelicans refused to comply with the demand and headed into the offseason with a myriad of questions surrounding the organization's future and what Davis's impending departure would mean for the NBA in The Big Easy.
Now, with the number one pick, and another potential superstar heading to the Bayou, the team has a new lease on life.
"I thought it was the most genuine reaction that you could possibly have to a team getting the No. 1 pick and the chance to draft a franchise-changing player in Zion Williamson — for the team that could be losing another franchise-changing player in Anthony Davis," said O'Connor.
With Davis' main complaint being the team's competitiveness, there's a feeling that Williamson's presence could change everything.
"Now with Zion, there's a chance they could try to keep AD — that's my main takeaway from the night. There was so much emotion bottled up in that scream from Alvin Gentry. The whole room definitely was in support of it."
The Duke product Williamson has been called the best player to enter the NBA Draft since Davis was drafted No. 1 in 2012.
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