The Torch of New Orleans' Sports Could Soon be up for a Passing if Drew Brees' Gift to Zion Williamson Is Any Indication
I don't want to hate too hard on Anthony Davis here. After all, in many ways, him becoming a villain in New Orleans after spending year and year personally flourishing on a floundering team that greatly needed a reality check has inherently made Zion Williamson all the more galvanizing to a city that might soon be in need of another "savior". Rich Paul depositing that reality check by trying to...ahem...Klutch the Pelicans by the balls mid-season really woke the front office up to the fact that their franchise was largely seen as a farce.
More importantly, it presumably inspired the organizational overhaul that got kickstarted with the hiring of an accomplished exec like David Griffin and got put into overdrive by some prosperous ping pong balls. The Pelicans no longer being treated like a second-class citizen internally has made the external shift in optimism all the more possible, and it's impossible to know if things would have been so quick to change if not for the embarrassing public spectacle of the Anthony Davis saga.
That said, while also taking into consideration the imprisonment of the moment, the aura surrounding this 1st overall selection as opposed to that of his premier predecessor just feels so much different. Anthony Davis both was and is a transcendent talent in his own right, but as the forward-facing ambassador for a long-suffering franchise and the city they call home, Zion Williamson appears to have a Drew Brees-lite type "it" factor.
Lord willing, the circumstances surrounding the arrival of the current torch-carrier will never again be replicated, as his impact was unimpeachable for reasons far beyond a resurgence in sport. However, I don't think #9 is merely "passing it on", figuratively speaking, because he's on his last leg as an elite arm in the NFL or because he received strict instructions to go out of his way to be overly complimentary to make the newest member of a tight-knit community feel welcome. I'm probably unwrapping far too much from a gift that required no ripping or tearing. Still, if I can see that Zion Williamson has the rare mix of personality, potential, and magnetism that can make him a larger-than-life figure both on and off the court then surely so does the regional diplomat of a future HOF quarterback that implied as much in a message that, in an already large frame, made mention of an even bigger picture.
I don't know that the Pelicans can ever come anywhere close to reaching a Saints-like level of importance in New Orleans, as Sundays are basically a cult-like spiritual experience in and around the parish that lays claim to the insanely excitable church that is the SuperDome. However, their stars might soon have the capability to shine somewhat close to as brightly throughout the city and that alone would be a massive shift in the right direction for what's been, until recently, a red-headed stepchild of a professional basketball team.