Time Warner Cable Arena, located in "Uptown" center city Charlotte, North Carolina, has for the most part been treated as the replacement since it's inception. Much like the new puppy your parents give you after Fido runs out into a busy intersection or settling for a can of Dr. Thunder instead of Dr. Pepper when you're on a tighter budget. Now of course, that's not nearly as bad as being treated like the red headed step child of the family, but it's also nothing to write home about either. You see, the building, much like the team that occupies it, has had an extremely hard time of replicating the magic created by the Hornets in the previous coliseum located conviently off of Tyvola. Gone is the gigantic parking lot surrounding the stadium which gave it that "main event" look. There are no longer teal lights of buzzing Hornets or posters of grown men dressing up as grandmothers. There is no longer a perrenial playoff caliber team on the court to bring out the fans. Now, there is only the arena, located right in the middle of the busy city, just a hop, skip, and jump from Bank of America Stadium which houses the vastly more successful sister team, the Carolina Panthers. The colors are an uninsperational shade of orange and the posters and paintings of players are constantly changing as the roster is continously made over year after year, leaving little room for fans to identify with the team and vision. Oh, and the only way to call our team a perrenial playoff contender would be to wake Webster from the dead and have him change the meaning of the word perrenial to one. In the middle of this entire mess of change sits Michael Jordan, watching his team being constantly man handled by other NBA franchises. Regarded by many as the greatest player of all time, but one of the worst general managers to ever walk the earth. And yes, that includes the infamous Matt Millen.
I still remember laying down in bed with my laptop resting on my stomach, peeling away at a Tijuana Mama and browsing ESPN when a cryptic interview aired during a Bobcat's game one night. The team and the city were on an emotional high with the sell of the franchise to Jordan and their inaugural trip to the playoffs nearing. But almost in Grinchlike fashion, Jordan had a more pessimistic, yet realistic view on things in a 5 minute interview that aired during a break. In a cold blooded and downright uncaring tone, he told us that changes would be coming. He let us know that he wasn't willing to pay the luxury tax for a mediocre squad, something I understand, but something that also made me question the sell of the franchise to an owner showing signs of going broke. He asked for us to be patient and that the an NBA championship for the Bobcats is all that he would be content with. For the first time I could ever recall, only days after becoming the majority owner, he had spoke like a true general manager.
I didn't make much was made of his words that night or even the next few weeks after the interview aired. Yeah, we all knew what it ultimately meant in the end. Change. But it was much harder to tell how we were going to get there. Much harder.
Change with this team was nothing new for me. I long ago had come to expect that the team changed players like a filthy rich man changed socks. After the Orlando Magic made short work of us in that brutal playoff sweep, I put on my general manager cap and planned for another typical Bobcat-like offseason. Surely Tyrus Thomas and Raymond Felton would both be resigned like Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor were. Surely Tyson Chandler would stick around and have a bounce back year or we would trade him for a valuable asset like Jose Calderon. Surely this team would build on their success and compete. Jordan was going to keep working to build this team into a true winner immediately, I thought.
The most gifted player in the draft, Brown is a great athlete with exceptional basketball skills. He can handle the ball like a guard and has a good-looking stroke from 15 to 17 feet. Brown also has good floor vision and passes extremely well. Brown is currently at his best when he faces up and takes people off the dribble using an excellent crossover dribble. Defensively, Brown is a devastating shotblocker with superb leaping ability, timing and reach. Because of his combination of size, strength and skill, Brown is often compared to Chris Webber and Kevin Garnett. At this point, Brown has a much more NBA-ready physique than Garnett had coming out of high school. -Draft Reports on Kwame Brown
I thought wrong, and everyone knows exactly how everything turned out and where we are now. M.J. ended up doing what I had felt was almost the impossible, by letting Raymond Felton walk away for nothing and trading Tyson Chandler for players we had absolutely no use for. He proceeded to follow up on those moves by firing Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, trading the face of the franchise Gerald Wallace, and then our best scorer Stephen Jackson a few short months later. And now here we are. We are much healthier financially than we have been in previous years and possess probably the most trade assets we've had in our brief history, but for most fans, it means nothing. The reasoning? Simply because people don't trust M.J. to finish the deal.
Do I trust M.J. to finish the deal? I don't know. I'm a die-hard fan of the Charlotte Bobcats, so within me, there willl always be a small glimmer of hope that we can turn this team around and into a championship contender. I'd like to trust Jordan to put the pieces in place for my city to bring home a professional title. I admit, it gets hard sometime to trust his decision making considering that Cory Higgins (makes me shiver just to say that name) is on the roster while one of my all-time favorite flame outs Gerald Green is still at home souping himself up on 2K12. But I do trust him. I guess I have to. No folks, I am not happy with the team being blown out by teams more often than not. No gentleman, I am not happy with the Bobcats only making the playoffs once so far. And no, I am not happy that we are having to rebuild. But I've accepted it.
Perhaps the best pure scorer at the NCAA level. Morrison Lights it up in a variety of ways, whether it be on an outside jumper, taking his man off the dribble, or fading away from fifteen. Despite his awkward looks, is quick enough to get a step on most NCAA defenders. Once he's by his man, it's as good as two points. Uses his length to take the ball all the way to the basket, finishing with a dunk or finger roll, but is more prone to pull up for a circus-style, fading jumper. Probably more comfortable shooting the ball falling away with a man in his face than he is with his set shot. Furthermore, the very Larry Bird-esque way he shoots from above his head makes it almost impossible to block his shot. As well as he creates for himself, he also knows how to create for others. Handles the ball well for his size, and will find his teammates with regularity when teams try to double him off the drive. Despite having the ball in his hands a lot, almost never commits a turnover. When he gets going, he wins games by himself. Morrison is a firey competitor, and seems to relish getting in mouthy, one-on-one challenges on the floor. -Draft Reports on Adam Morrison
Being a small market team in the NBA is hard, extremely hard. We, like many other teams around the league, are forced to build our teams almost exclusively through the draft without having the luxury of stealing developed youngsters from other teams through the free agency process. For this reason, we absolutely cannot waste draft picks on the Sean May's and Alexis Ajincia 's of the world (I know some people feel that way about Bismack Biyombo). Not in today's NBA at least. And while MJ hasn't been impressive in his front office duties, I just find it extremely hard not to give Jordan SOME credit for the moves he has made over the years. It was Jordan who put butts in the seats to watch the lowly Washington Wizards and have that organization in the financial position to build a once promising team built around the core of Gilbert Arenas, Antwan Jamison, and Caron Butler. It was Jordan who pulled the trigger to land players such as Chandler and Jackson in Charlotte, it was Jordan who was able to retain Emeka Okafor and Gerald Wallace once their free agency status came into question, and it was Jordan who drafted solid rotation players such as D.J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson.
None of that matters though. Jordan, with draft picks such as Brown and Morrison turning out the way they did, will basically have to get his team into contender status just to shake the negative stigma that has followed him throughout his general management career. You would almost think that everyone else in the world knew these players wouldn't be very good. It also doesn't help Jordan's reputation as a general manager that Chandler went on to solidfy a championship caliber squad for the Dallas Mavericks, Shannon Brown went on to become a highlight reel player under the bright lights of Staples Center in Los Angeles, Felton began looking like a borderline all-star in Madison Square Garden of New York, or that Crash went on to instantly become a co-captain of a talented and winning Portland Trailblazer team.
I don't hold that against him though. I can't. Not when I always felt like Chandler wasn't a very effective player and was injury prone. Not when I knew that Shannon Brown's game was extremely limited outside of making a monsterous dunk or block every once in a while. Not when I witnessed Felton be destroyed by Jameer Nelson in the playoffs, and not when I began to worry if Crash would ever recover from the funk that he was in in Larry Brown's final days in Charlotte. I see his plan now which is something I NEVER could do before. I honestly believe that with Rich Cho on board, we will remain financially healthy for the forseeable future and in a great space to build around our draft picks of this year and next. We will continue to search the league for young players that haven't had an opportunity yet like D.J. White or Byron Mullens. We'll continue to sign players like Reggie Williams who are worth more than their contracts, and we'll begin to draft players that really fit into our plans long term. That's what I'd like to believe.
May is a load in the paint. He has a very wide frame and is a real physical presence down on the blocks. He is an exceptional rebounder, he anticipates well and with his wide frame he can box out almost any player in college basketball. When he gets in position and boxes out properly, vary rarely does he miss a rebound. At the next level, his rebounding ability should be his best asset. He is an improving scorer with his back to the basket; he has a variety of post moves down low and has solid footwork. He has a nice short hook shot and since he has such good hands, when he catches the ball deep in the paint you can usually count on him for the field goal. -Draft Reports on Sean May
But I digress my friends. As a Panther's fan, looking back over the 2-14 season we had to endure to land Cam Newton in Charlotte seems like a minimal investment for the return. I've never been as excited about the Panthers as I am now. It's just something in my heart though telling me now that if we end up with the number one pick in the draft, select Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, or any other "sure thing player", and they don't turn into an impact player, we would hear more "Told you so's" from certain people. I'm actually looking forward to it. Some people just can't buy a break. Sorry Mike. This is what you signed up for.