As the Crescent City gears up to host the NBA’s All-Star Game this weekend, top executives from the New Orleans Pelicans are worried the “Equality” message recently erected downtown is being completely misunderstood.
League spokespeople and media are reporting that the mammoth banners draped across the sides of downtown buildings with messages like “Equality” and “The Ball Should Bounce the Same for Everyone” is in reference to the controversial North Carolina transgender bathroom bill that cost Charlotte the game this season and prompted the NBA to move the game to New Orleans. While first reports said Nike is behind the campaign, Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said the work is from his team and needs to be clarified.
“We [Pelicans] commissioned the banner to take a stand against the unfair treatment of teams like ours across the NBA,” Gentry said referring to his dumpster fire of a mediocre team that’s ranked 12th of 15 in the Western Conference. “My job is to bring this city a world championship and I can’t do that with the oppressive environment the league creates through wins and losses.”
Gentry, who said he advocates every team’s record being set t0 .500 after the All-Star break to help put everyone on equal ground, hopes the league is listening. For the Pelicans, who have played an odd number of games thus far, that would put its record at 28-28-1, a five-game bump in the win column from its current record. It also would put the NBA top’s team, the Golden State Warriors, at 28-28, a 19-game swing in the opposite direction.
“It’s tough to lead a team when your players feel like the system is built against them,” Gentry said. “We’ve tried just about everything, big ball, small ball, everyone stands under the goal, Great Wall of China, nut punches — but it seems nothing we do matters. Now, I’m not normally a praying man, but I don’t know what else to do other than hope our banner starts a movement.”
Pelicans owner Tom Benson is also petitioning the NBA to make every franchise’s net worth equal. According to the 2017 rankings by Forbes Magazine, the Pelicans rank last with a team value of $750 million. Alternatively, the New York Knicks are first with a value of $3.3 billion.
“If you made $750 million for every $3.3 billion your co-worker made yet you do the same exact job, what would you do?” Benson said. “It’s not right. So, yes, it’s time the ball bounces the same for everyone.”