If you’ve ever read an issue of Blender magazine, you know that every month they like to do a review of some longtime artist’s entire repertoire of albums (e.g., all of Bob Dylan’s work). The best part about the review is the way they divide up the albums into descending levels of quality. Instead of using plain old 1-4 stars, the category headers are “Essential,” “Great,” “Check It Out,” “Be Careful,” and “For Fans Only.” ESPN’s Insider Access was definitely for Bobcats fans only.
The screwiest part of the whole thing was the Bobcats had a real-live, major, behind-the-scenes deal actually happen: the trading of Primoz Brezec and Walter Herrmann to the Pistons for Nazr Muhammed. How amazing (and yes, I admit it, delightful) would it have been if ESPN had had a camera crew follow Vincent, Higgins, Jordan, or whoever it was who ultimately broke the news to Primo, as he walked up to the big guy, tapped him on the shoulder, and gave him the axe? What was Primoz’s reaction? Did he burst into tears? Did he leap for joy? Did he get suddenly terrified at the thought of playing with Rasheed Wallace? I’d believe any of those scenarios. Instead we just got a bunch of canned interviews—ESPN blew a golden opportunity on that one. It’s also weird when you go back and look at the clips later–which you can do on the ESPN.com web site–as there’s Primoz doing his thing in the morning shootaround, there’s Dudley showing off his merchandise at the team store, etc. It’s all pretty ghostly.
The one thing that’s worth looking at is Vincent’s meeting with the staff, which is unintentionally hilarious. Vincent clearly already had the real meeting prior to the taped one, so here he’s more or less “reenacting one”—the way all the staff members are vigorously nodding to his generic instructions is the dead giveaway. The meeting also leaves a couple of questions unanswered. First, there’s the decision in the “meeting” to send Jermareo Davidson down to the NBDL, yet he suited up for us that night and even played the next night in Atlanta—so what happened, did the Primoz trade nix that? Second, what’s with the mysterious Starbucks drink? It appears in various clips yet doesn’t always have a clear owner—so is it the same one, or is the whole staff hooked, or is one of them just serially addicted? I need to know these things.
Herrmann gets a big fat “inconclusive” for his brief time here. Besides his hair, his biggest crime was playing in the one position in which we have depth to deal, particularly when you factor in Sean May and Morrison, who are untradeable right now with their injuries. If Walter had exhibited more down-and-dirty defensive prowess, he would have been more necessary. Instead (say the following line in a low, Carl Weathers growl:) he’s an asset, an expendable asset, and GM Rod Higgins used him to get the job done, got it?
The Bobcats’ subsequent two post-trade games were both dreadful affairs in which we were competitive in the first half, and then ignominiously clank-happy in the second. The first one was on ESPN, the second one took place in a desolate, quarantined-looking Phillips Arena in front of about 25 former WCW fans wearing Sting and Lex Lugar t-shirts. Dwight Howard was unstoppable in the first game, Joe Johnson was unstoppable in the second game, and Jason Richardson was highly stoppable in both games. In fact, I’m not even sure if these games rated high enough to be "for fans only"; they might have only been fun for future serial killers who have nothing better to do with themselves on Friday and Saturday night only (e.g., me).