Comedian and comedy theater founder Chris Trew is a New Orleans Pelicans superfan who has a single season ticket directly behind the visitors’ bench inside New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center, where he interacts with the opposing team’s players and coaches. He will be documenting his experiences here for us in a regular column called Behind the Bench. You can follow his in-game interactions live on Twitter at @Trew2theGame. The Pelicans’ opponent in this column: The New York Knicks.
When the Knicks assistants weren’t drawing up plays or coaching up the bench, they were partaking in the pastime of most visiting NBA teams — laughing at Omer Asik. Every clumsy possession by the big man had New York’s bench smirking, winking and joking. At one point in the second quarter, Asik was slow to get back on defense, and he made eye contact with the Knickerbocker bench as his big ole’ frame lumbered up the court. His eyes were sad, as if he knew he was being bullied from afar.
Carmelo Anthony lit up the box score as well as the bench. The Smoothie King Center is a superior arena name compared to the glut of banks, airlines, etc. that buy most naming rights to NBA arenas, but since there’s nothing worse than standing out from the crowd, people love to rag on the name. I’ve never seen someone go off on New Orlean’s arena name as much as Carmelo Anthony. Every single time a teammate sank a tough shot, Anthony belted out “get that Smoothie!” Then, he would mumble something about the Smoothie King Center. He was very proud of himself. Every now and then he would switch it to “give me a smoothie!” His teammates laughed along with him, which is understandable because roasting the name of the New Orleans NBA arena was one of the highlights of New York’s 2015-2016 campaign.
Another common taunt from the Knicks was “That’s gonna be on YouTube.” Which, sure, a nice play from an NBA game is of course going to be on YouTube. But to imply that something showing up on YouTube somehow meaning you got posterized, doesn’t add up.
One of biggest perks of sitting behind the bench is witnessing how players react to their teammates taunts and celebrations. After a Derrick Williams dunk in traffic he turned to the bench and did a “Who, me?” type of taunt as if he couldn’t believe his own powers. It came off as an awkward, over-rehearsed celebration, and Kyle O’Quinn did not approve as he turned to his neighbor on the left, made a sour face, and said “What the f*ck was that?”
Jose Calderon had to check multiple times with his coaches on whether he had two fouls or three which struck me as odd because I’ve never seen a player have to do this as often. How could he keep forgetting? Also, if you ever wondered how wet Jose Calderon gets in person, I’m here to break the good news to you. Jose Calderon is the starting point guard on the All-Star Soaked Squad.
When Alexis Ajinca missed a dunk, the refrain was “he’s from France, he can’t dunk” which, apparently is true.
The most famous foreigner in the game, Kristaps Porzingis, was probably the most locked-in rookie I sat behind this season. No small talk, no games, no soaking in the moment, all business.
The question of the game was “Do you want to party with Luke Babbit tonight?” To be clear, I do not have post-game access to Luke Babbit’s nightlife habits. I do not know what Luke Babbit does after home games. I have some guesses — a local arcade. or soda shop — but I can not be sure. Nobody answered my question except for Kyle O’Quinn, who definitely falls in my Top-10 favorite players to sit behind. “Why not?” answered the backup center.
As time expired, the Knicks were in great spirits, despite their losing effort. Lance Thomas, in street clothes, wasn’t having it. “You know we’re losing, right?” he asked. After no response and more giggling, Thomas got more aggressive. “You know we’re losing, right?” he said again. This time his teammates cooled down.