Pelicans fans get first look at Zion Williamson

Team holds open practice at the Smoothie King Center Saturday

Amos Morale III
October 05, 2019 - 9:00 pm

Pelicans executive vice president David Griffin took the microphone at the end of the Pelicans open practice Saturday at the Smoothie-King Center and called on the NBA’s top draft pick to give the fans one last dunk before they went home. 

Zion Williamson had missed on a couple spectacular attempts earlier in the scrimmage, one of which he went and sat in the stands after, much to the amusement of the fans, and Griffin wanted him to make up for those.

Williamson obliged, threw himself a lob off the backboard, and finished a two-handed jam that drew cheers from the crowd.

“Mr. Griffin put me on the spot with that last one,” Williamson said. “But it was great.”

More than 10,000 fans showed up to watch the Pelicans practice Saturday and the franchise made sure they weren’t disappointed. 

“Last year, I was impressed with the number of people that came out,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. “But this was a completely different animal, the whole atmosphere and the energy that was in the building and just the number of fans that we have…. the fact that there were people actually sitting in the upper deck is really a surprise.”

Fans in attendance got their first glimpse of the renovated Pelicans roster and were able to see free agent signee J.J. Reddick knock down a few 3s, rookies Jaxson Hayes and Nickel Alexander-Walker throw down a few slams as well as the Lonzo Ball to Williamson connection.

“I know the people have been wanting to see the Lonzo-Z connection so we tried to give that to them I think we were 1-for-2 on that one on that but it was fun.”

Gentry said he was pleased with the effort he saw from the team in the scrimmage as well.

“I thought we did a great job of competing hard and I thought we got a lot out of it,” Gentry said. “Usually in these situations, right here, it ends up being like an All-Star game almost, But I thought our guys competed at a real high level and did a good job of trying to take what we’ve done in practice and use it in the scrimmage.”

Fans attending also got to see the rookies sing karaoke, courtesy of Jrue Holiday.

Holiday assigned each of the team’s rookies a song to sign in front of the crowd and the Pelicans unanimously agreed that  Alexander-Walker was the best performer.

The former Virginia Tech standout passionately sang the words to Vanessa Carlton’s “1,000 miles.” 

“I think he was trying to play like he didn’t know the words,” Holiday said. “But who doesn’t know the words to that song.”

The Pelicans kick off the preseason Monday night with a matchup against the Atlanta Hawks and are back in front of the Smoothie King Center crowd next Friday when they host the Utah Jazz. 

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