Cam Jordan will say what Alvin Gentry cannot, and what every other rabid New Orleans Pelicans fan – and, yes, Jordan resides among the flock – has been screaming since Gentry unleashed his “Eff Yeah!” affirmation (his sister will approve the watering down; keep reading) after the Pelicans won the NBA Lottery on May 14.
Jordan, All-Pro defensive end for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, isn’t bound by the NBA tampering rules that tie the tongue of Gentry, the Pelicans’ head coach. Jordan can allow his thoughts to lift off, similar to the hops displayed by a particular player in this year’s NBA Draft, the consensus No. 1 overall prospect who possesses franchise-altering physical abilities and magnetism.
His thoughts laser to Duke forward Zion Williamson.
“The No. 1 pick,” Jordan said Monday, before participating in the 27th annual Saints Hall of Fame Celebrity Golf Classic, at Bayou Oaks.
“There’s two prospects worthy, right?” Jordan added. “You’ve got Zion and you’ve got (Murray State guard) Ja (Morant), right? And of course, what’s going to fill the seats? Probably going to go with that Zion aspect, right?”
“I mean, I know I’m looking forward to the kid. You’ve seen his highlights since he was in high school – what was that, two years ago? And he did it for one year at Duke, and you saw what he was able to do over there. It does nothing but build the anticipation, build the excitement.”
Gentry was excited enough about winning the top overall pick that, a split second after receiving the news, he raised both arms and shouted “F*** Yeah!”
He has received a tongue-lashing for his lapse in civility.
“My sister’s not real happy with me (over the swearing),” he said, smiling. “I’ve never heard her say a curse word.”
“Actually, it really was just raw emotion. After everything that we’ve gone through and what has happened, for them to call our name, it’s unbelievable.”
But, true to NBA rules, Gentry can’t let on whose name the Pelicans will call.
“Before you start guys, you know I can’t say anything,” he told the assembled media, again, smiling. “Nobody’s been drafted, so I can’t particularly talk about anybody. I can tell you that we’re going to get a good player in the draft. But I can’t be real specific, unless you guys are going to pay the fine.”
That caveat extended, Gentry said the No. 1 overall pick will join a franchise that has made notably progressive steps this offseason, including three highly-coveted hires at executive vice president of basketball operations (David Griffin), vice president of player care and performance (Aaron Nelson) and general manager (Trajan Langdon).
“I think we’re moving forward, but I felt that way from the day Mrs. (Gayle) Benson took over,” Gentry said. “I think that she has let everyone know that it’s very important for us to some kind of way, develop a championship mentality.”
“She’s done everything on her side of the ledger to make sure that that’s happening. Obviously, with getting the first pick and some of the other things that are going on, we have an opportunity to move in that direction.”
Gentry said that Griffin will keep open the lines of communication with All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who made a trade request in the middle of last season.
“Obviously, we feel like we’re moving in the right direction and would love for him to be a part of it,” he said. “I think everyone keeps forgetting that he is on our roster; he is a roster player for us until July of 2020.”
But there will be no give-and-take with media that has labeled the Pelicans as somehow unworthy of adding the talents of a player such as Williamson.
“I’ll put our city up against any city in the United States,” Gentry said. “I’ll put our fans up against any fans in the United States. We’ve got a great situation here, we’re going to build a championship team regardless of what anybody on that show, that show, that show or that show thinks.”
“I know what we have here and I know what we have to offer, and I know what we’re doing as far as building a winning franchise here that’s going to be sustainable. We’re going to be a team that is going to win and is going to win consistently.”