The hate runneth over. I had an invite to the game tonight and man I couldn’t be happier I turned it down. Horrible is one word for it. Disappointing, frustrating and confounding.
Here’s how it started: Interesting pre-game comment from Larry Brown on backup point guard Shaun Livington: “He’s playing at the speed of the YMCA league. We’ve got to get (him) to play the speed of the NBA.” – Charlotte Observer
The Cats were up for most of the first quarter actually, up to the 3 minutes to go mark. Then Boston just became the team who has been to the finals two of the last 3 years, has the original “Big 3″ of these new wave “superstar” teams; meanwhile the Bobcats became the expansion franchise who has had one All-Star and an amalgam of players of middling talent with contracts awarded for seemingly out of their “ordinary” play. What I mean to say is, at this point the Bobcats seem to be a talented team but are not while they’re paid like All-Stars.
Twenty-Two turnovers, leading to 25 Boston points. While Boston wasn’t much better, 19 turnovers of their own, they only led to 17 Bobcats points. 19 extra possessions, 17 points. They can’t convert, more likely, they turn the ball right back to the Celtics. It’s disappointing. Outrebounded 38 to 48 and they didn’t have anyone but their Turkish Rookie big-man playing. That’s outhustled. When you have a size advantage with Nazr Mohammed and Kwame Brown, an athleticism advantage with Gerald Wallace and kind-of using Dominic McGuire and Derrick Brown (if coach would let him play), when all that is going for you on rebounds and you don’t win that battle, that can only be attributed to hustle and perseverance.
Fast-break points, 22 for Boston, 9 for Charlotte. That’s not getting back, that’s numbers, that’s ducking your head and waiting on your guy to inbound it. Simply yielding to an overmatched team is not in these player’s makeup. It doesn’t make sense. You look to DJ Augustin, Shaun Livingston, the point guards that Larry Brown is so tough on and looks to as the key to whatever this team wants to do. DJ didn’t score, failed to score at all, didn’t even get to the line for a single free throw attempt. Livingston, six points. Maybe he ramped it up to High School basketball speed from Larry Brown’s assessment of YMCA Speed. The two point guards? Combined for 2 assists. (Former Bobcat Raymond Felton finished with 17 Sunday against Denver).
Larry’s postgame comments were obvious. ”You don’t play hard, you don’t compete, you don’t execute, don’t defend. Ya know, don’t go after loose balls, don’t set screens, don’t run on the break, don’t run back, it’s the same old story. But ya know we’re playing against a quality team that is on a mission and if you’re gonna play soft and not execute, and don’t play hard, you’re gonna get embarrassed.”
Well yeah Larry, we understand that. Why are these guys not doing any of the things you preach and harp on. These are T-Shirt requests, hell if you showed up the last 2 years opener, you have those t-shirts. You’d think after 30 years in the league and something like 45 years in coaching, the man would have some further insight. It’s like telling a high school kid how to drive over and over, he’s still gonna have a wreck. You teach a kid to drive by the most difficult end of the driving spectrum, you take him to a driving school with a skid pad and all that.
That’s a weak analogy and I’m sorry, but you get the point. It’s not like Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, DJ Augustin and all the rest haven’t been told how to play the game “the right way.” And they know the “fundamentals.” We accept Larry as a coach because of that pedigree, only guy to win both in college and NBA. Best teacher of the game, but I question is dedication and his will to win. When things go bad, it seems like all he has to say is “If you had done what I told you….” Well coach, why don’t you work through the adversity. He was asked, what do you tell the team going into the game against Toronto? His response? You don’t even look at Toronto, you look at this game and the 22 others that have been horrible. He didn’t even address the team last night, he let Michael Jordan, the team’s owner do it.
I can only hope that MJ didn’t go in there and say “Do what Larry tells you. You aren’t listening to him.” It’s like telling the valedictorian, you never said your ABC’s right! Figure out the good things, the Denver game, and play to those strengths. The good ol’ Einstein quote comes to mind: Insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Being disgusted with millionaire, fantastic athletes in their mid-twenties is not going to get things to turn around. They’re going to get more and more withdrawn and more defensive.
I am not letting any player off the hook here, they are all accountable. My problem is, Larry’s attitude of “I’ve told em, I’ve told em again and again and if they don’t do what I say, they won’t have success.” Basically deflecting any responsibility, but by saying “But that’s on me” doesn’t do it.
Yeah, Boston is good but the Bobcats aren’t THAT bad. No single trade, no player, coach, employee or fan for that matter will change the culture. It’s a culture of disappointment and frustration. Too long it’s been a “happy to be here” attitude and too often we’re excited to have guys like Michael Jordan or Larry Brown attached to “our” team. It’s top to bottom. Look for the solutions within what we have and not coveting players or some mystical “effort.”
I thought I was at a loss when I started on this post, but obviously, 1017 words later, I’m not. It’s damn frustrating to see the game we saw and then the disgusted reaction of the coach? That just set me off. Luckily, Toronto is in as big of a mess and could act as a buffer to let some of the issues heal. We shall see, but if a trade happens, don’t expect things to turn around right away.