Tag Archives: NBA

My NBA All-Star Game Acceptance Speech

The other day, a gentleman by the name of Zach Harper awarded me with a prestigious accolade that has broken a glass ceiling and paves the way for people like me in years to come.

Mr. Harper named me the All-Star of the Charlotte Bobcats.

I hardly have words to say how proud I am of such an honor, not to mention how shellshocked I was at hearing the surprising information. I mean, I work hard and as they saying goes, ‘No pain, no gain’ — and I certainly endured a lot of pain.

There was the infamous airballed free throw from DeSagana Diop. The hours upon hours of watching Cory Higgins play meaningful minutes. Boris Diaw shed his early strong performance, but not his lovehandles. I didn’t watch all of it — I do have a job —  but I watched most of it, sometimes peeking through the space between my fingers during particularly horrific moments. Byron Mullens hedging on the wrong side of pick and roll. I can go on and on.

It’s definitely not easy. So many times I wanted to give up, but refused to let myself do that. My stomach did cartwheels as I forced my eyes open while the Trail Blazers obliterated the Bobcats. And all of it whilst sober. That’s right, not a drop of alcohol to ease the pain.

But it all has come to fruition with this decoration.

First off, I must thank Mr. Harper and the rest of the blogosphere/twittersphere. They have given me so much support, it nearly brings me to tears. From the bottom of my heart, I love you all. Secondly, I must thank my parents. Mom, you taught me to work hard at everything I do and never give up. And Dad, you taught me to yell and wildly emote at the people on the TV screen. Together, you made me into this award-winner you see here today.

And lastly, I give so much thanks my fellow Bobcats fans who have hung in there with me, they who may be much more controlled with their voices. Together, we will survive. I do it all for you guys.

I have written a poem to commemorate this wonderful occasion.

Me Real Cool

THE BOBCATS FAN.
ONE ALONE IN HIS APARTMENT .

Me real cool. Me
watch Hendo. Me

watch Augustin. Me
watch  Kemba. Me

watch Diaw. Me
watch Higgins. Me

Watch Diop. Me
Die soon.

—————————————————————–

Again, thank you all. Hopefully better times await us ahead.

LET US PL– *Rips loud fart*

You and your fandom are a simple commodity.

Decry it if you want, but it’s true.

While the National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association wage one war confined to the rooms of the luxurious Waldorf Astoria, each sides fights another between themselves on another front.

You are that front. I am that front. We are that front.

On Sunday evening, Derek Fisher announced intentions to follow the NFL’s lead in attempting a social media movement by tweeting “LET US PLAY” on Monday and using the hashtag “#StandUnited” in tweets until the lockout ends.

Which accomplishes…what, exactly?

Like socks in a pair of Air Jordan 2010s, the motive was visible to anyone with eyes willing to see it.

On the last day of the lockout negotiations before David Stern and the rest of the NBA would cancel regular season games, Fisher and the NBPA launched their move, using NBA players to draw fans as pawns for their side. Between their hardwood heroes and billionaire businessmen living vicariously through their toy NBA teams, fans will side with the players always and forever, in a vacuum.

But the situation isn’t in a vacuum. The players find themselves clearly disadvantaged without much leverage trying to negotiate their way into a compromise that the owners know they can break in due time.

So in a rash effort to bring the fans on their side and against the owners, Fisher and the NBPA began a last-ditch effort to manipulate their fans.

Fan perception as a powerful motivator against ownership is pretty ineffective, though. In the one successful case I can think of, George Shinn found himself on the wrong side of it in Charlotte as the fans refused to support him, pushing him away from the city. On the flip side, Donald Sterling is considered one of the worst owners (and people) in the league but his team continues to bankroll profits to keep him happy and in business.

Of course, when a lockout goes on for this long, the public gets fed up. In theory, an attempt to sway perception towards the player side could have a slim chance at putting pressure on the owners to make concessions.

The actual execution of the idea to push the PR war to their side completely bombed whatever shot it did have at success, unless success was alienating fans.

“LET US PLAY.” Yes, it’s short, sweet and to the point. And I get that it’s piggybacking off the NFLPA’s lockout slogan. Yet, how funny it is – play! Playing is all NBA players have been doing this summer during the lockout. NFL players can’t play pickup games as easily as NBA players can just go down to the local blacktop and join a quick five-on-five full court game. Oh, they want to play real NBA games. Starting a hashtag movement certainly makes momentous steps towards accomplishing this.

It was just an utterly hair-brained strategy. Did they think they would wrangle all the NBA fans on Twitter in a single day with most players tweeting the same few words, give or take ten exclamation points? Then what? The owners would cave because people on Twitter don’t side with them? Hell, one NBA GM didn’t what Google was; how many owners know Twitter even exists? NBA owners could care less what fans think at a time like this. Fans aren’t businessmen. They may have more common sense, but the economic and business intricacies are far beyond any normal fan’s comprehension. Plus, they know the die-hard fans will be there to buy tickets and merchandise when the lockout ends. Some casual fans may be lost but as long as they get most of the system they want in place, they’re fine with that. Fans, for the most part, are immaterial.

And the NBPA doesn’t think much differently. It’s insulting to fans to see something that’s either so wholly or seemingly contrived used by NBA players to maneuver their mindset to align with the NBPA’s. From Derrick Caracter’s “Let’s play,” to Brian Cardinal’s flip-flopping from “#arewereallyrelyingonhashtagnegotiations” to the form tweet, the whole movement seemed forced. It was like all the players on Twitter had a massive conference call to get them to tweet “LET US PLAY #StandUnited” at some point in the day.

Twitter has truly shown itself to be a media watchdog of sorts and an effective tool of social media for powerful movements, like Egyptian revolution. Not Derek Fisher and the NBPA’s quest for PR superiority. It makes them come off as desperate, rushed and foolish. Really, really foolish. It’s not just the hashtag and slogan, as stupid as they are. Do not miss the forest for the trees here. This is about how fans are viewed and treated by the players association.

But it’s not just the NBPA. The owners are guilty of trying to win a PR war, too. They’re just not doing it as technologically-proficiently. NBA Commissioner David Stern said to reporters after the meeting, “We tried very hard. We made concession after concession.” That posturing is worse than the players’. The NBA is treating the cancellation of games as a weapon to force the NBPA into submission for more money. But hey – at least they tried very hard! One of the main things that I notice is how we were led to believe that the system discussions had been more or less settled and that BRI was the last main hurdle in negotiations heading into Sunday’s meeting. But it wasn’t and it all fell apart. Now the NBA is nixing games to make a power move for getting as much money as they disregard the fans completely but try to posture it as if they were making concessions. We were duped in a PR war trying to get us to take sides. When the games were canceled, it became more than evident.

Former SLAM Editor In Chief Russ Bengtson said on his Twitter account, “[I] will in no way be the NBA fan I used to be after this.” I too, cannot come out of this lockout, whenever it may end, and go back to being the same fan of the game I love. I’m already a pretty cynical fan as it is. To see the owners and now the players toy with fans while progress moves like Eddy Curry post-all-u-can-eat buffet disgusts me.

LET US PLAY.

No, that’s not it.

LET US PLAY YOU.

That’s more like it.

It’s Our Jacket

“Yo, Charlotte is like Hell on Earth, but I really dug your team! ‘Preciate the dope jacket, too!”

That’s what I got from the Grantland piece from Rembert Browne, entitled “Charlotte Hornets Starter Jackets: An Appreciation“.

Meanwhile, I’m seeing other Charlotte Hornets fans fawn over the piece in a wave of sedating nostalgia. LJ! Zo! Muggsy! Ah…good times.

I’m not swooning in adulation.

I loved those jackets. I never had one, but they were great nonetheless. It is undoubtedly the Starteriest Starter Jacket, like Browne says. I remember seeing Larry Johnson sport one in one of his Converse ‘Grandmama’ commercials (see below). With that gap between his teeth and that charisma to go along with a great, playful advertising concept, how could you not fall in love with him and that jacket?

And the rest of the players were great, too. Alonzo, the proud defensive stalwart. Muggsy, the heart of gold pure point guard. Dell, the hot-shooting, quick-to-grin 6th man. There are many more great Charlotte Hornets, as the organization didn’t really deal with people of poor character (you know, outside of the owner), but my favorite was probably Bobby Phills, who I can’t introduce, lest I break down into tears.

Further, the team’s marketing and design didn’t hurt either. The “Teal Boom,” or the era when teal reigned supreme as the color of choice, coincided perfectly with the franchise. The Hornets had a great name that tied into the city’s history and a fitting logo to complement it. And then there was Hugo, who could do it all, as Browne points out. It always felt like the Hornets were meant to be for Charlotte.

And they were our city’s team, not to sound exclusionary. Those Starter jackets didn’t just represent the team or the mascot or the cool colors or the players. They represented the city and what the team and the players stood for within the perspective of Charlotte. We were a growing Southern city, soon to become a banking metropolis of the South. Coinciding with that was our first NBA franchise. The team grew from small, humble beginnings full of fans’ bright-eyed optimism for a young and struggling yet powerfully strong-willed team.

You can’t win games on optimism and hope, though. The Hornets lost their first game by 40 points and went on to win 20 games in their first season in 1988-89. And then they regressed slightly the next year, winning  only 19 games. A winning record wouldn’t come until the team’s fifth season, yet the Hornets sold out 364 straight home games and led the NBA in attendance eight times in 11 seasons. We were crazy for our Hornets, and they us.

Meanwhile, the city grew as well. NationsBank (which later purchased BankAmerica and became what you know now as Bank of America) had become one of the largest in the nation, flourishing in the economic climate. Joining NationsBank was First Union (later merged with Wachovia), another then-massive bank, to shape Charlotte as a premier expanding banking city in America and the world. The city fully rallied behind the team, which was so utterly un-hateable. With the largest NBA seating capacity arena ever built, fans filled the 24,000-seat stadium to capacity on just about any night to watch a developing team play before a developing city.

But to Browne, that’s not what these jackets represent; he liked the players, the burgeoning franchise, the incredible mascot, etc. And that’s fine, because I understand he’s not a Charlottean. But as a native Charlotte Hornets fan, I can’t fall in line with everyone going gaga over the post.

Browne clearly feels nothing but animosity towards Charlotte:

Fact: The popularity of this jacket has nothing to do with the city of Charlotte. Call this South-on-South hate, but as an Atlantan, I wouldn’t live in Charlotte if you promised me a $1,000 a day and a lifetime supply of teal and purple color contacts. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that zero percent of this jacket’s success should be attributed to the quasi-decent city of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Fact: I’d pay $1,000 a day to keep him out of Charlotte.

You can dump on the city as much you like. It’s no New York, Los Angeles, Paris or even Atlanta. But Charlotte’s home to me. I know the city and I love it.

And to say the jacket’s popularity has nothing to do with Charlotte is asinine and painful.

It has everything to do with Charlotte.

The team, the players, the jacket, the everything – they represented our city. They were Charlotte. We roared as one when Mourning hit the 20-footer against the Celtics to help win the franchise’s first-ever playoff series. We spat when George Shinn showed his true self. We wept when Bobby Phills died. We were the Charlotte Hornets.

So you can go back to Atlanta and give us back our fucking jacket.