During this obviously exciting and intense time, I felt like writing a FanPost entirely unrelated to the pants-wetting speculation (not to say I don't like it). Perhaps this will give some of the new members (Welcome!) some insight into who I am, as well as the old members too. Inspired by Basketbawful's new-ish fantastic series on their main contributor's development as both a teenager and a basketball player (read at basketbawful.blogspot.com), I decided to take an introspective look at my own development as a basketball player and a basketball enthusiast.
If you find time between drooling over the trade whispers, please take a minute to read the first part in a short series.
Our story begins in the mid 90's. Clinton was president, and crappy bands were popular. At that time I had one best friend, Stephen. I've known him as long as I can remember and although we've sadly grown apart, I still consider him a great friend. Most of the time we would spend our days at his house. Such days would include playing videogames, doing kid-stuff (building forts), playing baseball in his backyard or playing basketball. For some reason, I think basketball was my least favorite activity. He was much better than me. Stephen had already been taught a correct shot and I had basically taught myself based on what worked and what didn't. That include a two-handed push shot, playing hard on defense, double-dribbling, and I think I got my Ph.D in getting schooled. Oh I guess that's why it was my least favorite activity.
Anyway, he was my best friend so I would play with him regardless of my distaste. He had no brother like I did, so I think he especially liked to play against someone, even someone as bad as myself. The process would always be the same. We would take his boombox and plug it in. The goal was attached onto their carport and he would lower it, thankfully saving me from more embarrassment than I needed. It helped but not nearly enough. My aforementioned deficient skills doomed me every game. Luckily I was talented at other things like golf, soccer, art, and being extremely shy; otherwise these basketball games would have meant more. But I didn't put much thought behind them so I never practiced.
Stephen was also a big UNC fan, and probably still is to this day, despite attending a different college. He had, and probably still has, a hat signed by every member of the 2005 UNC Championship squad. I on the other hand did not care much about college sports or really any spectator sports. The only team and athletes I followed at that time were the Panthers, Tiger Woods, David Duval (HA!) and Ken Griffey Jr. Of course I knew of the greats like Jordan and I heard of Chamberlain but I didn't know anything about them. The big name that was gaining popularity on the playground though, was Vince Carter. As a UNC fan, Stephen was going to the Hornets-Raptors game to watch the high-flyer. His grandmother, perhaps my favorite person I've ever met, owned season tickets to the Hornets and despite the fact that I didn't know Vince Carter from Vince McMahon, I accepted his family's offer to take me to the game. I remember nearly nothing about the game except that it was the first game I went to that I have any recollection of. We would go to Hornets game a good bit. My clearest memory is of the two of us kicking peanut shells at the cameraman who sat directly in front of us (their seats were excellent). I also remember going to a Harlem Globetrotters game which is a fond memory as well.
Then Bobby Phills died.
That event is pretty clear to me. I remember the newspaper pictures. I remember Stephen getting a black #13 patch from the Hornets. I remember David Wesley's anguish. But just as quickly as it happened, I moved on.
As the Hornets neared their eventual move, Stephen and I went to separate elementary schools for just the 4th and 5th grades. During this time we didn't spend as much time together, and as such, I didn't play basketball or watch it nearly as often. The Hornets moved. I understood nothing about why they moved but I didn't ask any questions. I saw the empty seats at the games I went to but I didn't know anything about George Shinn or his transgressions.
A few years passed and some basketball games were played but hadn't gotten to the stage of reading the sports page on a daily basis so I was still pretty uninterested in professional sports outside of Ken Griffey Jr, Tiger, and David Duval (HA!x2). The announcement of a new NBA franchise had occurred and the naming process began in the summer of 2003. This got my attention, but remained in the back of mind thoughts compared to other things I was interested in.
Then in the Fall of 2003 we became truly aware of the Panthers. I had always liked them. A player (my brother tells me Biakabutuka) lived down the street from me and my family had gone to the first playoffs game. But whenever my brother and I tossed the football it became a running joke to drop any pass and say we were on the Panthers. But then the team began to win. A lot. Out of superstition, we kept up the joke despite its new irrelevance. The Panthers were undoubtedly my new favorite team for a long time. I liked the sport and especially to play it. Did I mention I'm only 5'7" now? Yeah I was tinier then. Playing on any real contact sports team was not happening outside of soccer. I began watching football though and reading the sports section on a daily basis to keep up with the sports world.
That following summer, the Bobcats held their expansion draft and participated in their first NBA draft. I had a mild interest now but I knew of so very few players that I couldn't have told you who played what position, besides Okafor.
Next time, I will delve into my Bobcats fandom, beginning to play basketball a little more seriously, and changing how I played.