Bobcats fans probably look back on Tyson Chandler the way Ben Affleck’s character looks back on Joey Lauren Adams’s character in Chasing Amy. The initial encounter was awkward, the time spent together was very brief and often really frustrating, and yet once it was over, we realized almost immediately that the team had stupidly ruined a very good thing that we’ll never get back.
Let’s start with how they got together in the first place, because they definitely didn’t meet cute. What’s really telling is the opening line in the AP article after the Bobcats traded Emeka Okafor to the New Orleans Hornets for Chandler in July, 2009: “The Hornets have officially found a taker for Tyson Chandler in the Charlotte Bobcats.” Believe it or not, this trade was pretty widely reviled by Bobcats fans and mainstream analysts alike, because Chandler’s stock at the time had never been lower. ESPN.com’s John Hollinger—loveably subtle as always—actually titled his analysis of the trade, “What Are The Bobcats Thinking?” The basic consensus was that the two centers were about equal defensively, but Okafor was much more polished offensively. Plus Chandler had a toe problem that had limited him to just 45 games the previous season (this was the thing that personally gave me nightmares; I remembered many a sleepless night that summer with visions of Chandler riding the bench with a pulsating bunion a la Jim Brown’s in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka).