Sorry I didn’t get a chance to comment on Friday night’s game against the Sixers. I’m in a Forecasting class at school right now and I was working on an insanely difficult assignment–the handout for the project itself was 9 pages of single-spaced, 10-font instructions. I took this class ostensibly to help me predict things like market share but secretly to help me pick football games (in the final project we have to take a series of data sets—of our choosing—and use software to help us make predictions—hmmm, wonder what topic I’ll pick there). So anyway, because I was overburdened with work and because the Bobcats played back-to-back games (and because both games were really depressing in their own way) I just decided to combine the recaps into one.
If you were looking for a good game Friday night…then I hope you flipped over to the NCAA Tournament, because the 76ers-Bobcats game was awful. Charlotte was run over by a Philly team that was playing without Andre Iguodala, their only legitimately good player. The other Andre—Miller, that is—had 19 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, and was impossible to contain despite the fact that he’s slower than a 3-legged dog. Steamin’ Willie Green had 18 points and 6 boards, Stephen Hunter had 18 and 9 and made every single shot he took—he shot more accurately than Rick Hunter. Lord, must I go on? Are you getting the picture? It was horrible.
For the first time, I started to liken following the Bobcats to some sort of experiment to see how much I can take. I’m beginning to feel like the guy in Supersize Me!, only instead of bad food, I’m trying to show what watching months of bad basketball will do to you. And to make things worse, lately commentators Matt Devlin and Henry Williams come back from every commercial break holding up some sort of cheap promotional merchandise you can buy (usually made by some company/guy called “Crazy Fred”) and there’s even a "ShopBobcats.com" graphic that blinks on and off, QVC-style.
And have you noticed how many shady financial/insurance companies we’re in bed with now? We’ve got Geico, which has gotten so huge they now have 2 mascots, the gecko and the cavemen (wasn’t that a crappy 80s/90s band that a bunch of early indie prototypes insisted rocked? No wait, I’m thinking of Echo and the Bunnymen–sorry), State Farm (“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there…except when your entire neighborhood floods in a massive human tragedy, because we sure as hell aren’t going to cover that sort of thing—try the Red Cross”), Lending Tree (“When banks compete, they end up making some terrible subprime loans”), and on and on.
Anyway, the best thing about the Philly game was that it ended. On Saturday, Raymond Felton and Gerald Wallace were out with injuries that were basically just exhaustion-related. "We need to make sure the guys get two days off. The bodies just need to recover,'' Coach Bickerstaff said, sounding like Lindsey Lohan’s publicist every time she checks into rehab. This meant that we started a somewhat ridiculous lineup of Brevin Knight, Matt Carroll, Walter Herrmann, Adam Morrison, and Jake Voskuhl. That’s right, we were one Steve Blake-for-Brevin Knight trade away from a Bill Simmons “Whitewash.”
Devlin did me a tremendous personal favor early on by clearing up the whole Herrmann pronunciation controversy. Apparently, “they” came to Devlin and Williams and said that Walter’s surname is in fact pronounced like plain old “Herman.” So I’m just glad to put it behind me, and I take back everything I said about the Cleveland announce team (actually, just this part). Now if some sort of authority would just do this with Mehmet Okur’s first name, maybe by circulating a “Mehmet memo” Ha!! Don’t forget to tip your waitresses…
Speaking of Walter, he had another 17 against Philly and put up 20 and 6 against New Jersey and is playing pretty darned well (and have you seen how focused he is when he runs? He reminds me of the Terminator 2 bad guy). It’s kind of funny seeing stuff I wrote about him months ago now cropping up in national publications (e.g., the Fabio comparisons, “Herrmann Monster,” etc.). Just remember: I was making fun of Walter before it was cool.
The other bright spot of the past few games has been Alan Anderson, who had another 12 points against NJ and was a real presence in the lane. I’m starting to think a good coaching technique would be to make rookies and young players watch video footage of D-League guys doing things like staying in Super 8 Motels and taking 15-hour bus rides from Tulsa to Sioux Falls; it’d be like a "Scared Straight" program that would hopefully motivate them to try harder. Anderson is clearly playing as if he’s terrified at the thought of having to go back and play for someone like the Dakota Wizards.
As it happens, the Bobcats welcomed back Vince Carter (Ha! I'll be at Jake's Comedy Club on Friday…) to NC and very nearly pulled out an upset over the Nets. It took a last second, improvised alley-oop by Carter off a desperate Jason Kidd airball just to tie it and send it into OT. In the extra frame, VC took over with 10 points and the Bobcats ran out of gas, diesel, solar power, alternative energy sources, slave galleys, or whatever they were miraculously running on in the first place to keep it so close. Carroll had 27, Voskuhl had 14, Knight had 15 and 8. It’s sad, really, because we’re taking on the Hawks and the Bucks next, we just had Philly…the schedule really favored us at the end, it’s just too bad we didn’t have enough guys to make it happen—makes me want to break into Tiffany’s “Could’ve Been”…
After the game, by the way, when reporters asked VC about his upcoming free agency this summer, he said, “As of right now, I'm a Net. I'll always be a Net, so we'll just go from there when it's time.” When Carter speaks, you can almost see the fine print—maybe State Farm is an appropriate NBA sponsor after all…