Comedian Chris Trew is a New Orleans Pelicans fan who has a single season ticket directly behind the visitors’ bench inside New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center, where he chats with and listens to the opposing team. He will be documenting some of his interactions with players and coaches here for us in a regular column called, Behind the Bench. You can follow his in-game interactions live on Twitter at @ChrisTrew. The Pelicans’ opponent in this column: the Houston Rockets.
Traditionally the home game during Mardi Gras is a tricky situation for New Orleans. Locals wait all year for Carnival season and when you put an NBA game just a couple of blocks from the parade route, it complicates travel to and from the game. Even the most die hard hoops fans consider taking the night off, so whenever the schedule gods toss an assist our way it’s always noticed.
Last year when Kobe Bryant played his final game in the Big Easy, for example, people still came out. The year before that when the talented but not very thrilling Indiana Pacers scooted through town during Mardi Gras, the arena was bare. This year was the debut of DeMarcus Cousins and the seats were mostly full which is remarkable considering the streets were also full with one of the more popular parades, Muses, going down simultaneously.
Everyone in the building knew we were here to witness the beginning of the Boogie era, but the Houston Rockets downplayed his arrival not only the entire game but in the beginning during player intros.
James Harden led the way by playing dumb about the trade, telling me that he didn’t even know the controversial center from Sacramento had been traded. The rest of the team followed suit and after his first basket as a New Orleans Pelican, the bench pretended to be surprised at the big man acquisition.
As the PA announcer belted out his first “DeMarcus Cousins!” the bench overreacted double takes as if they don’t have Woj trade alerts set on their phone. In terms of trash talking and a battle of the wits, this was perhaps the funniest way of dealing with being the first team facing the Kentucky duo.