"You know you’ve got to go through hell before you get to heaven"
-Steve Miller Band, Jet Airliner
Thats all folks. With their ignominious sweep at the hands of the Miami Heat way back in the first round of the playoffs, the Charlotte Bobcats as an NBA franchise ceased to exist, though the online art/film collective is presumably still going strong. Michael Jordan and company are marching into a bold new era of corporate nostalgia pandering by re-rebranding the team as the Charlotte Hornets. Nearly everyone in North Carolina (lets not kid ourselves with any 'fan' talk just yet) is ok with this: the old mascot was generic, uninspiring, and possibly the result of a former owner's blatant narcissism. The franchise's decade of existence featured many low points, including the worst season in nba history from a winning percentage standpoint. The aforementioned sweep was the culmination of the team's best season ever, which resulted in a 7th place record in a historically bad eastern conference.
The Bobcats' credentials point to their ultimate demise as a humane one, ending the team's legacy on a quasi high note. This was a franchise only a nascar fan could love. Still, the team had its share of characters, players who were grateful to simply find a place in a league that didn't want them. With the team officially done, and a new era closing in, lets take a moment to pour one out for some of the ghosts of Bobcats past.
NBA status: Backup forward, Boston Celtics
Bobcats status: G.O.A.T.
Big Al is great, but Gerald Wallace deserves something for wasting his prime in Charlotte, and has to be considered the greatest player in Bobcats history. Wallace was a former lottery pick who flamed out with the Sacramento Kings before ending up in Charlotte via the expansion draft. He was a bright spot in a sea of missed lottery picks and sub-standard supporting players. He was a first rate athlete who threw his body around like his roster spot depended on it, defended three positions, and dunked on the world. Ultimately, Wallace would go on to make big time money with Portland, but never made it to a contender. Still, he was one of the only legitimate stars to role through Charlotte, and that has to count for something. Maybe.
NBA Status: Donzo. Primoz is in the Russian Professional Basketball League with BC Nizhny Novgorod
Bobcats Status: The Genesis
A thorough Wikipedia search revealed this gem: "He also scored the first points, made the first turnover, and hit the first free throws in the history of the franchise." #THEGENESIS.
Looking back, is it surprising that the Bobcats struggled when their first ever points were scored by a dude named Primoz? I have memories of Charlotte's play by play guy shouting his first name after big plays, but youtube has been unable to confirm this. It does confirm that he got dunked on. A lot.
Bobcats Status: The guy before Raymond Felton
NBA Status: Who?
Brevin Knight was perhaps the most anonymous stater in the NBA during his time in the league. His game in 140 characters or less: Rajon Rondo disguised as an accountant. Knight never shot. Ever. He was actually a great setup man, averaging 9 apg, (and apparently 10 ppg, but this can't be correct.) during his first stint as a starter. As always, you have to adjust these numbers to the realization that most of the bobcats starters where playing crazy long minutes thanks to the ineptitude of everyone behind them in the depth chart. Call it Bobcats inflation. In Knight's case, the numbers hardly even matter. Knight was all about swagger, as in a complete lack thereof. He was the anti Russell Westbrook: nothing but crisp passes, stoic leadership, and a complete lack of flair: not the point guard we deserved, but the one we needed right then.
Bobcats Status: The franchise cornerstone who wasn't
NBA status: Emeka Okafor's expiring contract
Remember the days of Emeka Okafor, franchise player? Offensive centerpiece? There was a time when the future looked bright for Charlotte, due entirely to an undersized defensive center with limited post moves who made up for his lack of height with his massive forehead.
Okafor was talented, and has carved out a solid career as a defense first shot blocker and rebounder. He was doomed by the expectations that come with being the number two pick in a draft with one star (In retrospect, I still think we dodged a bullet with Dwight Howard. No way that guy would have stayed in Charlotte.) On the plus side, the classic orange Okafor jersey remains a Goodwill best seller in the Charlotte metro area.
Bobcats Status: Basketball Fabio
NBA Status: Basketball Fabio.
There are a lot of players deserving of this last bio (btw, this is the last player bio), but I have to go with Walter Hermann. His time was short, his hair was long, his jumper reckless but occasionally successful. He once scored 30 points in a game, and it was beautiful. He was the anti Brevin Knight, which makes him the parallel universe Russell Westbrook. Mostly, he was Basketball Fabio.
There are a host of other mentionables from basketball's least auspicious franchise. If I had an established readership, I'd probably get hate mail from Raymond Felton, Adam Morrison, Sean May, and Alexis Anjinca (in French) to name a few. Others, like Jason Richardson and anyone on this year's playoff team, probably appreciate being left out. Either way, they all make up the strange, orange and blue fabric of the Bobcats' anti-era. It was weird, depressing, and featured a lot of terrible basketball, but I think we're all better people after a decade of Bobcats.