by Alejandro de los Rios
With apologies to the Hornets pre-game announcers, I'm Live at the Hive right now reporting on the most important game for the Hornets this year -- it's Hugo's Birthday! (And apparently some really good team from Boston is also in town).
In case you're wondering, you don't have to mark this day on your calendar as it's done every year at random games. Also, no one I talked to in P.R. could tell me when the tradition originated, but it sure is a lot of fun. Season ticket holders George Rosevally (left) and Troy Peloquin (right) seemed to know that tonight was a special occasion and came dressed in their Mardis Gras costumes.
Also here are mascots from the Rockets, Pacers, Magic, and Celtics were in attendance tonight and festivities included musical chairs and a half-time dunk competition. I question the integrity of both competitions as Hugo won both on the basis that it's his birthday. Save for Lucky, the Celtics mascot, the out-of-town mascots are acting as surrogates for Hugo in different parts of the Arena, doing what mascots do, which in some cases involves giving lap dances.
Also in attendance tonight are Jared Fogel of Subway fame (10 years of showing up his old XXXXXXXL pants!), who judged the half-time slam dunk competition and was at Peja's CharitaBowl event last night as a celebrity bowler (more on that tomorrow)
Deuce McCallister and Mike McKenzie of the Saints are here too, both of which got raucous ovations from the crowds when they were featured on the jumbotron. They've also been giving out autographs and posing with fans. I got a chance to talk to McKenzie who seemed genuinely thrilled to be in attendance.
What brought you out, I asked?
"What brought me out?" he asked, as if it were a serious question. "CP3 for MVP!"
McKenzie said that he knows players on both teams and that, the Hornets being his "home" team, he always makes it out to games when he's in town. I asked him what he thought about the recent crowd resurgence of late (the Hornets have sold out 7 or 8 games since the All-Star break after just 2 sellouts before).
"They just hadn't had enough time to take it in," he said. "I think everybody is realizing that this moment right now is our shot a an immediate championship."
I'm guessing that means he thinks the Saints are have a shot at a championship down the road I didn't ask, though, It was hard enough talking to him with all the Arena noise. Speaking of noise, the third quarter just ended and it's looking like it might come down to the wire. At least, that's what I can tell from the crowd noise that's (very) audible in the press room.