The Charlotte Bobcats are notoriously known for getting their butts whooped, but they have had impressive comeback victories in their short history. They turned around a 22-point deficit to a playoffs-bound Hawks team in February of 2011. They put the brakes on Kevin Durant's Thunder squad in 2010, reversing a 19-point gap into an eight-point victory. The Bobcats also erased 19-point shortcomings in games against Miami in 2010 and Orlando in 2008. The Orlando one is a favorite of mine, when the team dismantled a 19-point Magic lead within 9 minutes in the third quarter alone. Gerald Wallace had 14 points in the quarter, 2 steals, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and drew 6 fouls. You can't get much more Gerald Wallace-esque than that.
But when it comes to a Bobcats comeback, I can think of none more incredible than that of Kwame Brown.
As many Bobcats masochists are aware, the Bobcats have been searching for an anchor at center for years, even going back to Okafor's stint. So in came Nazr Mohammed. Then they needed a more defensive-minded center to help out. Enter DeSagana Diop. And then Okafor turned into Tyson Chandler. No one on that squad was quite getting the job done for Larry Brown so Theo Ratliff arrived on the scene. Center by committee didn't work out so well and out went Tyson Chandler in return for the ghost of Erick Dampier's dumpable contract. Once again left with aging, fragile centers -- not to mention mediocre-to-subpar talents -- the Bobcats signed a cheap body to contribute minutes for a minimum contract.
That cheap body was Kwame Brown. Yes, new majority owner Michael Jordan brought in his most infamous draft failure to his new team. It wasn't without sense, but it certainly turned heads and caused the peanut gallery to offer their guffaws. Even though Kwame was on a cheap deal and expectations were somehow even lower than the minimum deal he signed, Jordan made the decision to reconnect with the single largest example people drag out to show how bad Jordan was at personnel moves.
Seemingly embracing a quieter environment with nearly zero expectations, Kwame performed well above the level most people thought he would. He supplanted Nazr Mohammed in the starting lineup once Mohammed got injured, but showed strong play that kept him in the starting lineup. Charles Oakley and Paul Silas worked on his strength and confidence, even though he still was no behemoth on the offensive block. However, he did score at a healthy clip and had his best free throw shooting since his third year in the league. With Boris Diaw's love for passing, Kwame often found himself seeing plenty of opportunities to get the ball. He also reeled in his turnovers for his best season TOV% in his career.
2011 went quite well for him, notching several double-doubles and finishing strong, averaging double digits in scoring for the final dozen games. Perhaps his best performance came against the Heat, where he scored 23 points and had 13 rebounds in a hard-fought nine-point loss to the first incarnation of Miami's Big Three.
Many figured Kwame would stay in Charlotte the following season considering the chemistry he had developed with the coaching staff and comments he made about how much he felt he owed the Bobcats and Jordan for giving him another shot.
But things hardly ever go as you think they will and Kwame left Charlotte for an incredibly attractive one-year, $7 million contract with Golden State. He started off well there but tore a pectoral muscle and finished the year on the IR and later was included in the Andrew Bogut trade.
Still, few things have impressed me Kwame's comeback. He's eternally the butt of so many draft bust jokes and will forever be used in arguments as evidence of the greatest player of all-time's greatest mistake. Year in and year out, fans wonder how he's still in the league. But in one year with the Bobcats, he proved he still could contribute in the NBA in the face of ceaseless doubt.
And then he got paid $7 million.
Biggest. Bobcats. Comeback. Ever.