The New Orleans Pelicans are one of the more intriguing teams in the NBA ahead of the 2021-22 season due to all the buzz surrounding Zion Williamson’s future with the franchise, as some members of his family reportedly think the best thing for him would be to go seek greener pastures. This puts plenty of pressure on general manager David Griffin to put a team out there that convinces Williamson he can win in The Big Easy, but a new piece by Christian Clark of NOLA.com indicates that Griffin is entering this season with major questions about his ability to make that happen.
One of the major issues is, apparently, that Griffin presented an ultra-optimistic approach but did not always back this up. An example came early on in his tenure, where he gave a presentation that tried to make clear that a change in the team’s culture, with words like “Family,” “Accountability,” and “Love” popping up on screen. And then, his actions did not back that up, which led to him getting a nickname from folks within the organization that was pulled straight from The Last Dance.
Then-coach Alvin Gentry told several people around him, “This is going to be great.” Within months, however, Griffin began blaming Gentry for the Pelicans’ poor start. Once, on a road trip, Griffin was approached by someone he hadn’t spoken to in weeks. Unprompted, Griffin said: “I give Alvin all the answers to the test, and he still fails.” It’s unclear whether Gentry knew of this exchange. He declined to comment.
That Griffin sometimes contradicted his own sunny vision caused a segment of team employees to actively dislike him. When “The Last Dance” documentary aired in April 2020, some staffers began referring to Griffin as “Griff Krause” in a group text. It was a reference to Jerry Krause, the NBA executive who dismantled the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls after they’d won a third straight championship.
Krause was not exactly painted as the protagonist of the ESPN series, as he was oftentimes the butt of jokes from individuals like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen throughout The Last Dance. While Krause did plenty of good in assembling those Bulls teams, his reputation was more so for breaking them apart, and getting compared to him is rarely (if ever) going to be a compliment.