[Preface: I'm disappointed that I even feel the need to write this]
Charlotte, I understand you.
I may not agree with you much ‒ especially in your support (or rather, lack thereof) of the Bobcats ‒ but I understand you regardless.
George Shinn ripped out your heart. Enraged and hurt, you soured on the NBA.
And until there's an exciting, competitive team on the court, most of the city will remain apathetic towards the Bobcats.
Unfortunately, the team has deserved better, which you've been mostly unwilling to notice. You turned a blind eye to the show-stopping talent of Gerald Wallace until he turned in an all-star year and led the Bobcats to their first playoff season. And now that the Bobcats are no longer as promising as last year's squad, the city has gone back to mostly giving the Cats a cold shoulder.
So, I beg of you: show up to the Bobcats-Trail Blazers game on Friday and give Gerald Wallace the standing ovation he's earned.
The man gave his body to the city and the team every game. Concussions, broken ribs, a partially collapsed lung, strained knees, strained groin muscles, strained hamstrings, sprained ankles, medial tibia bone bruises, knee tendinitis, a separated shoulder, bruised everything. There's a reason his nickname is Crash. But more than just a name, it stands to represent the sheer effort he gave every night and every day.
He came up from nearly nothing. Just an uber-athletic prospect in Sacramento, the Bobcats drafted him in the franchise's expansion draft. He developed into a defensive phenom, averaging an absurd 2.5 steals and 2.1 blocks per game in the 2005-06 season. From there he evolved his offense and upped his scoring, becoming a more reliable three-point shooter and getting to the charity stripe more. And finally, last year he shed his 'underrated' label and was selected for the NBA All-Star Game.
And so Gerald became the face of the franchise. Charlotte finally began to recognize him as the best athlete in the city.
But then the team fell apart and the Bobcats were relegated back to a lottery-quality team with lottery-quality attendance. Gerald Wallace was traded to help initiate rebuilding and the Bobcats have won one game since.
So here we are. Gerald Wallace returns tomorrow to Time Warner Cable Arena for the first time since being traded.
Remember last week when the Bobcats played at Portland and Joel Przybilla checked into the game, for his first game at the Rose Garden since the trade? Their crowd was amazing, giving Joel an outstanding ovation that he would call, "something I'll remember for the rest of my life." Portland has some of the most knowledgeable NBA fans around. I want to see at least that kind of reaction for Crash from our fans.
Whether you agree with the decision to trade him or not, Gerald deserves everyone's applause and cheers, which undoubtedly he'll get. But he should get a crowd larger than I've seen as of recently. Charlotte, come out to show your respect for Gerald's effort and love that he gave our city for seven years.