New Orleans Pelicans can’t even fill virtual stands with fans

Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images
Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images /

The poor New Orleans Pelicans can’t even get enough virtual fans to show up.

The NBA restart is unlike any sporting event we’ve ever seen. With all of this taking place within the Orlando bubble, in the midst of a global pandemic, in the wake of rampant police brutality and protests for social justice, we are witnessing history every time these teams take the court.

Or, at least, those of us actually showing up to watch are.

Enter the poor New Orleans Pelicans, who couldn’t even get enough virtual fans to fill the stands in Thursday’s opening seeding game against the Utah Jazz:

The NBA has been experimenting with hosting virtual fans on the in-arena video boards, allowing them to stream their cheering faces via Microsoft Teams. The digital fans look plenty ridiculous, to be fair, with faces and bodies not be the same size due to each person’s camera angle and zoom, but you know what’s even worse? When you can’t even fill out your digital cheering section in the team’s first game back after a four-month hiatus.

No wonder the Pelicans wound up losing!

Hopefully the Pelicans’ digital fans show up next game.

In all seriousness, the NBA’s first seeding game was a resounding success. Though New Orleans lost in a 106-104 nail-biter, the game came down to the final shot (a missed Brandon Ingram 3 for the potential game-winner), and the Pelicans and Jazz joined in a moving moment of solidarity during the national anthem.

Unfortunately, those positive vibes couldn’t carry over into the game from their lackluster cheering section. Maybe that’s why the Pelicans coughed up a lead they maintained for almost the entire game and fell short in the fourth quarter?

We’re new to this whole “NBA games without real fans” thing, but hopefully the next time the Pelicans take the court, at least their virtual fans will show up.

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