NEW ORLEANS (AP) - In the NBA city most familiar with "gris-gris," folks see no small measure of poetic justice in the fact that their team will dictate the fate of a coveted prospect named Zion.
Mystical explanations aside, the Pelicans are in the driver's seat now - but say they're in no hurry to disclose their plans for likely pick Zion Williamson or disgruntled All-Star Anthony Davis.
A franchise that looked downtrodden for months since Davis requested a mid-season trade has been suddenly buoyed by the leverage that comes with winning the NBA's draft lottery- and the option to pick the Duke star, widely seen as the best pro prospect since Davis entered the league in 2012.
"What it's doing to the franchise and to the city of New Orleans is probably not even measurable at this point," said David Griffin, hired just weeks ago as New Orleans' top basketball executive. "There's a groundswell of excitement that frankly is palpable.
"What has to come next is that we have to make it mean something. This is a lot of fun, but we've got to build a winner now."
It was welcome news for beleaguered sports fans in Louisiana, who had endured a rough start to 2019.
It started with the "NOLA no-call," a pair of missed penalties in the waning minutes of the NFC championship that likely cost the NFL's Saints a Super Bowl berth. Fans were so angry that many joined lawsuits against the league or attended parties on Super Bowl Sunday which featured re-runs of the Saints' 2010 title triumph instead of the most recent championship game between New England and the Los Angeles Rams.
Less than two weeks later, Davis, the city's six-time NBA All-Star and face of the Pelicans, publicly requested a trade , and the firing ninth-year general manager Dell Demps followed not long after.
Even at the major college level there was disappointment when one of LSU's best campaigns in program history was tainted by the suspension of coach Will Wade amid questions surrounding his recruiting tactics. Wade wasn't reinstated until after LSU was eliminated in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, and his future remains far from certain.
Political commentator James Carville - a Louisiana native, New Orleans resident and avid sports fan - said Wednesday that the recent series of setbacks had led him to adopt a pessimistic theory that, "We are a cursed people, and so all we're going to get is curses."