NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Starting with draft night Pelicans fans have been looking forward to seeing the big man Zion Williamson play in the regular season and it's finally happening Wednesday at the Smoothie King Center.
New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) practices before an NBA basketball game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Clippers in New Orleans, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. | Source: AP Photo / Matthew Hinton
It was a little bit like Christmas Eve for the fans. They've been waiting all season to see how Williamson will fit in with the team and after months they get to open that gift.
The 2019-2020 seasons have been good for Louisiana sports teams.
New Orleans native Jonathan Rondeno said, "We just had LSU win the National Championship so that was a big win for the home team. The Saints didn't quite get it this year. I'm hoping for next year, but I'm looking forward to watching the Pelicans honor Tom Benson and New Orleans with another win."
Fans are optimistic about a recent string of Pelicans wins and the most anticipated player finally taking the court.
Alberto Doria has followed the team since they moved to New Orleans. He said, "I've been coming to the games for a while, but this game is big. I've been looking forward to it."
Rondeno said, "I want to support the home team. Zion's coming out for his debut. I got a floor seat. First one in my life at an NBA game."
Pelicans TV color analyst, Antonio Daniels, sums up the collective vibe. He said, “Excitement. I think we all feel that thus far. This will be a playoff atmosphere in January which is very rare.”
Rondeno wants to commemorate the day. He said, "I'm getting my official ticket printed out so I can get it signed, score a jersey and get that signed too. Get there early on that courtside."
Doria said, "I think everyone, all the New Orleans fans, was a little bummed when he had to get that surgery and was out for a while, but we've been patient and it's on tonight. We're going to dance."
With gear ready and tickets in hand, Pelicans fans are saying 'Yes!' to Zion's first night on the court.
“I'd been holding out. I didn't get an AD jersey because I thought he was going to leave and he did, but Zion he's here for good. He's going to stay and he's going to change the game.”
Daniels said, “The moment Zion was drafted it was a different feel to the city as far as basketball is concerned. A feeling like I've never felt. The excitement around Zion and what he's going to bring not just to the city, but to this organization and to this fan base is immeasurable.”
“I think Zion's going to really bring some more synergy to the team and get everybody back on the same page with just playing their role and being a part of the team that's going to have some wins to put on the board this year,” said Rondeno.
Wins these fans hope to be the start of a New Orleans Pelicans run to the top.
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