There is a filter that clouds every fan’s eyes. When he perceives his or her favorite team, the perception is always better than it appears. This filter is good for many reasons; it gives fans a sense of pride, and in tougher times it allows a little hope to remain that things will eventually turn around.
It also creates negative effects; namely that of false hope. When one feels their team is better than it actually is, ideas begin to swirl. The phrases, “if we can just do this,” or, “if we just sign him,” creates an illusion that despite how bad things actually are; their team is only one or two steps away from greatness. When those steps don’t happen and things are just as they were before, frustration and anger ensue.
Sometimes, the best thing for a fan to do is turn the filter off. For Bobcats fans, that needs to be done.
Chris Paul isn’t coming to Charlotte. Dwight Howard isn’t either. And despite every rumor that ever came about, despite “sources” that claimed either player had a desire to play in the Queen City, the reality is that was never going to happen.
Blame can’t go solely on the fans, but how things were perceived by them can.
Chris Paul wasn’t thinking about signing for Charlotte. He was being nice, because that’s the type of person he is. He has respect for Michael Jordan, and he wasn’t going to say anything to hurt their relationship.
Dwight Howard was kidding. Anyone who follows the NBA knows Howard is one of the biggest jokesters in the league. Sure, he might like to play next to Kwame Brown, but not in Charlotte. Not for a team that has fewer assets than his current one.
Understand though; I believed it. I took it all in. I imagined endless pick and rolls between Paul and Howard. It was glorious; it was amazing. It was also ill conceived.
Michael Jordan may be the greatest of all time, and players may want to play for him for that reason, but his status isn’t enough. There has to be more.
The Bobcats don’t offer much beyond Jordan. The team has yet to be embraced by the area, let alone the city of Charlotte, with the sting of the Hornets departure still fresh. Historically the team has been to playoffs once, and the components of that team are all gone. The truth is that signing with the Bobcats would be a downgrade for either player, and at this point in their careers its about playing where they can win now.
Despite how much love fans of Charlotte may have for their team, the league’s stars don’t share those feelings. New York, Boston, and Los Angeles will always attract the best players because they are the big markets. The “competitive balance” the league wants will never happen because the big market teams will always have the perception as the best places to play, whereas the small market teams will generally have the opposite.
There is nothing Bobcats fans can do about this but accept this fact.
Does this mean a superstar won’t ever play in Charlotte? Of course not, but the way that happens is through the draft. San Antonio and Oklahoma City show that small market teams can produce consistent winners by drafting well and bringing in the right pieces that fit.
For the Bobcats, the same will have to occur. Whether that future superstar is Kemba Walker or a later draft pick, the Bobcats will have to create a team and an environment that will change the league’s perception, so that one day the feelings we as fans have for the Bobcats will be shared by the rest of the league. That itself may never happen either though, and that future superstar may go the way of Lebron, Melo, and soon Paul and Howard, but that will need to be accepted as well.
This season the expectations should be small. I’m not advocating fans should cheer for losses; the desire to win should be there every night, but there shouldn’t be an illusion that Charlotte can turn it around in one bunched up, 66 game season. It’s going to be ugly, frustrating, and cynically comical at times, but take off the filter, accept things as they are, and look for progress with the current squad.