Memphis, Penny Hardaway give New Orleans’ basketball team a home after Hurricane Ida forces Privateers to flee

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Effectively upfront, they knew it was coming, one other horrible storm barreling towards Louisiana, projected to make landfall on the sixteenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

This one was named Hurricane Ida.

Everyone understood it was doubtlessly devastating, if solely as a result of these items are virtually at all times, nowadays, doubtlessly devastating. However, not less than initially, there was some excellent news. Sure, Hurricane Ida was going to hit New Orleans. However, not less than initially, it was solely projected to be a Class 2.

A Class 2 hurricane is not nice, clearly. However they’ve had Class 2s earlier than in New Orleans. And people, for essentially the most half, aren’t too scary. They not often require locals to evacuate.

“So we’re simply pondering, ‘We’ll be OK. We’ll experience this out,'” defined College of New Orleans athletic director Tim Duncan. “However native data has taught us, when it will get to three or above, you allow. So when it bought to a 4 late Friday, our plan of protecting people collectively kinda glided by the wayside.”

This was Friday, Aug. 27.

Hurricane Ida was nonetheless two days from making landfall, nonetheless roughly 48 hours from bringing overwhelming rain and sustained winds of 150 mph to Louisiana — the place 30 folks would ultimately die due to points the storm created. So there was nonetheless time to evacuate. And the UNO males’s basketball workforce did precisely that.

Some gamers traveled hours away to their hometowns. Others traveled to the houses of teammates. Coach Mark Slessinger took a couple of gamers with him Natchitoches, Louisiana, the place he used to work at Northwestern State. So when Hurricane Ida lastly made landfall on that Sunday, all people related to UNO’s program was distant and secure. However they rapidly realized returning to campus wouldn’t be a viable possibility as a result of the ability was fully knocked out and perhaps weeks away from being restored.

“So on that Monday, I am assembly with my government workforce and saying, ‘OK, what are we gonna do with people?'” Duncan recalled. “And Sless stated, jokingly, ‘It might be good to go to Memphis.’ And I stated, ‘Yeah, that sounds good. Let me name Penny.'”

Penny, after all, is Penny Hardaway — the Memphis coach who starred for the Tigers within the early 90s whereas enjoying alongside Duncan, the UNO athletic director. They’ve a private relationship that spans twenty years. So the decision was fast and straightforward. And never lengthy after Duncan and Hardaway spoke, Slessinger and his gamers have been relocating to Memphis, the place they’ve spent a lot of the previous two weeks working towards contained in the Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center, a 62,000-square-foot facility constructed for the Tigers.

There was a couple of workforce in Memphis’ observe facility the previous couple of weeks.
Gary Parrish/CBS Sports activities

“It was a simple connection for us,” Slessinger stated. “Simply logistically, it really works out nice with this facility. It is a world-class place. They bought loads of house. After which our cities are so comparable. I imply, our cities are so comparable simply from the texture and luxury. Our guys really feel like they’re in New Orleans. They really feel like they’re at residence right here.”

UNO senior Troy Green agreed.

“I like Memphis,” he stated. “It is like New Orleans’ sister metropolis. It is alongside the river. It is a port metropolis as effectively. It has quite a lot of historical past with music — identical to New Orleans. I simply love the tradition.”

Whereas speaking with Inexperienced, it was hanging how matter-of-factly he mentioned his present state of affairs. Actually the primary phrases out of his mouth, after I requested about being displaced, have been: “This is not my first time coping with hurricanes. I handled Katrina. I handled Isaac. Gustav. So being displaced is nothing new to me.”

Sadly, that is life rising up within the higher New Orleans space like Inexperienced did. Yearly, round this time, that is potential. You do not faux it will not occur. You simply hope it will not be dangerous.

“Should you dwell in California, there are earthquakes,” stated UNO assistant Jody Bailey. “Should you dwell within the Midwest, there are tornadoes. And we will get some hurricanes. It is simply a part of it.”

That perspective is among the many causes UNO’s workers and gamers have not actually spent a second complaining or feeling sorry for themselves. It’s what it’s. So as an alternative of lamenting their actuality, they’ve simply tried to make the very best out of a less-than-ideal state of affairs by having fun with their non permanent residence. They’ve had good meals, gone bowling, gone to the films and visited the National Civil Rights Museum, the place Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April 1968. That is exterior the fitness center. Contained in the fitness center, they’ve labored and labored and labored and loved the events when Hardaway or Corridor of Fame coach Larry Brown, a first-year Memphis assistant, occur to pop into the power to say whats up and provide encouragement.

“I like Larry Brown as a result of Allen Iverson is my favourite participant,” Inexperienced stated. “That is the rationale why I put on No. 3. So having a basketball thoughts like Larry Brown on this surroundings, it means quite a bit.”

“It has been neat for everyone,” Slessinger added.

Earlier this week, Slessinger was knowledgeable that energy has been restored on campus and that UNO’s facility has been cleared for the workforce to return. So, with in-person courses scheduled to begin Monday, the Privateers will board a bus sooner or later Friday and make their means again residence. Once they arrive, they’re going to encounter a metropolis that’s as soon as once more recovering from a disruptive and devastating pure catastrophe.

It is a fixed in New Orleans.

However, make no mistake, there’s nowhere these coaches and gamers would moderately be. They’re prepared to take no matter dangerous comes with residing in New Orleans so long as in addition they get to benefit from the good. And the nice is what they’re selecting to deal with as they put together for the upcoming season whereas enduring obstacles almost each different program avoids based mostly on nothing greater than location.

“Having the ability to put on town of New Orleans throughout my chest means quite a bit,” Inexperienced stated. “I am simply grateful I get to play for this metropolis — and I actually cannot wait to get again in our fitness center. Though I like being in Memphis, I am simply able to get again in our fitness center.” | Memphis, Penny Hardaway give New Orleans’ basketball workforce a house after Hurricane Ida forces Privateers to flee


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