METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Alvin Gentry apologized for a raspy voice during his introductory news conference Monday as coach of the New Orleans Pelicans.
It has been, after all, just a few days since he spent nearly three weeks coaching in the NBA Finals, where he was an assistant for the champion Golden State Warriors.
He hopes his voice is just as raspy a year from now.
“I’d like nothing more for us as Pelicans to have a parade right down Canal Street and enjoy it, too,” Gentry said. “That’s our goal here and I think it’s very attainable.”
Gentry officially was announced as the sixth head coach in New Orleans on May 30. But because of his role on the Warriors coaching staff, he couldn’t fully focus how to get budding star Anthony Davis and his cast of teammates to the next level.
That wasn’t the case, however, during his interviews with Pelicans general manager Dell Demps in mid-May.
The 60-year-old who has coached four other franchises - Miami, Detroit, the Clippers and Phoenix - came prepared with charts, analytics and beliefs in how to get the Pelicans past the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Gentry’s Warriors pushed New Orleans out this season 4-0 in the opening round.
“He had a great understanding of our team along with a vision of how he would coach this team,” Demps said. “It was very clear that Alvin was the right person for the Pelicans and the New Orleans community.”
Much of Gentry’s thoughts centered on two areas - defensive improvement and finding ways to get Davis more involved in what will be a fast-paced offense.
While it’s the former that Gentry said could be one of the biggest keys to future success, it’s the latter that helped draw him to want the New Orleans job.
Davis earned All-NBA honors this past season, his third in the league, after averaging career-highs with 24.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 2.2 assists per game. And Gentry thinks he can only get better.
“A lot of the things are going to build around him,” Gentry said. “He’s going to be a real versatile player. I think getting out and giving him opportunities to be in transition is going to be real important.”
Gentry is 335-370 in his previous stints as a head coach and is 12-9 in the postseason. He has coached Steve Nash in Phoenix, Chris Paul in Los Angeles and Steph Curry in Golden State.
What he saw in each - a desire to be the best - is what he sees in Davis, a wunderkind 6-foot-10 forward who can also handle the ball and change games single-handedly.
“AD wants to be the greatest player and to me that’s a great start,” Gentry said. “He’s willing to work to accomplish that. When your best player is that way, everybody falls in.”
Gentry thanked Warriors coach Steve Kerr for not holding him back when the opportunity to interview with New Orleans came. He also thanked former Pelicans coach Monty Williams, who manned the position most recently, for establishing a culture of hard work.
“The one thing he did, and it’s going to make it easier for all of us as coaches, is he established a culture here of competitiveness, of competing every single night,” Gentry said.
As for the future, he thinks there’s no reason the Pelicans can’t be the next great team.
“Why can’t this be our time? No one is more deserving than this city right here,” Gentry said.