Whoo. You wanna talk ugly? Like the way my grandmother used to talk about people, in a false whisper ugly. ”Ohhhhh, deary, you know, they must not own a mirror, love.” Gran! They can hear you! ”Nah then, love, they mustn’t know what they looked like leaving the house, bless their heart.”
We can talk “so ugly, it’s cute,” like a shar pei or whatever those wrinkly dogs are. Or Sandra Oh. But there’s nothing cute here. No, this is as bad a season as you’ll see in a generation.
ESPN.com, as they do with regularity, has a really cool feature that keeps up with the worst NBA teams of all time. The worst, as a Bobcats fan must know by now, is the Philadelphia 76ers of ’72-’73, tied with the Dallas Mavericks in ’92-’93, with records of 4-54 for a winning percentage of .069. The Bobcats aren’t in danger of slipping that low. If they don’t win again, finishing 7-59 for a winning percentage of .119, they’ll be in 3rd, behind (ahead of?) the Mavs, Sixers and the ’97-’98 Denver Nuggets. So, technically, they aren’t the worst.
It’s ugly though. To be certain, things are freakin’ bad. There have been tons of posts about it, all over the NBA blogosphere. My personal favorite, the one that most entertains me, was that of Matt Moore, which he posted at ProBasketballTalk.com, but his stuff can be found on CBS’s NBA site and I think he actually founded Hardwood Paroxysm. He wrote that the Bobcats are in the ninth circle of hell and he lays out his reasoning, which, honestly I can’t argue with.
To get real, to get real, real, for real up in here, that’s the worst part of this whole thing: I can’t argue with any of the folks ripping on the Bobcats. Not the current team, not the history, not the future, none of it. That is the definition of doldrums. It’s not just Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh (don’t hate the reference, I’ve got a 5 year old niece), acting as a fan. It’s deeper than that. It’s confusion and a loss but at the same time, a blind love and affiliation for the team that keeps me entangled. I wouldn’t liken it to an unsupportive spouse or a parent’s blind love for a messed up teenage kid. It’s something that only a fan of a really bad, recent expansion franchise can appreciate.
This is only the 8th season. There hasn’t been a trans-formative, national fan-favorite player along the lines of a Larry Johnson or Muggsey Bogues. There hasn’t been early success, like making it to the conference finals in their second year, the way the Panthers did. Rather than hell, I might even say the Bobcats are in purgatory. A limbo that holds you until some higher being releases you, up or down.
I listen to sports-talk radio sometimes. I’ve gotten away from it, because it’s all college up here in the triangle and I just can’t get into it. I’m also about worn out with people telling me about everything in absolutes, as if they have every answer and every opinion they select is deeply founded in their being. Occassionally, I’ll catch ESPN radio on my way to or from work. I like the fringe guys, like their overnight guys and weekend shows. One of my favorites, even if you can’t see the dude’s hair, stars Mel Kiper Jr. and one of those random ESPN talking heads, Dari Nowkhah. Dari is good, he’s got a great story and you should read up on him, because as you hear things about these folks and their personal lives that fleshes them out, and I certainly feel that connection with Dari. Mel is of course, the NFL Draft guru, no matter what ever comes of the younger guy ESPN has, Mel is the guy. So, it’s a good show, only on saturday mornings Eight to Noon.
They had their hero and zero of the week, Mel picked Bubba Watson for winning the Masters as his hero and some college football coach as his zero. Dari, have I mentioned an odd listener-ESPN personality connection? Dari picks Jeff Francoeur of the Royals as his hero. Might be meaningless, but I went to college with Francoeur’s brother, or at least my friends did and I knew the guy pretty well, and he became my favorite baseball player when he was called up to the Braves and ignited my small flame for baseball. So there was that, then he picked for his zero, the Charlotte Bobcats. Not a Bobcats player, Michael Jordan, the coach the GM, any of it, the whole organization.
I felt the connection, he hooked me with Francoeur and set the hook deep by mentioning the Bobcats. He lives in Charlotte and went to a game, the Washington Wizards game, as a fan, with a buddy who offered him a free ticket. He wouldn’t have gone, nor mentioned it otherwise. His experience and perspective left him with such an impression that he thought to spend a good bit of time, I’m talking 2-3 traffic lights, on how bad and hapless they are. He wasn’t ripping them, he even said so, but the worst part, again, was when he said “And you know what, I’m not worried about backlash or hate-mail or any twitter reaction whatsoever.” That cuts deep, not because of the source, but because of the truth in that statement.
People don’t pick on a lowly franchise for nothing. They don’t even pity the Bobcats or the city of Charlotte anymore. Doldrums, as I know it to mean, are the deadened, sort of listless, depression that seem difficult to get out of. It’s not a rut, it’s the freakin’ doldrums and they suck to be in. The Bobcats are solidly there, beat down, confused, dulled by the depth of uselessness and ineptitude. And that’s the hardest part about being a fan: seeing that, being helpless and still being attached.