In the obligatory “hype-up-any-newcomer-who-shows-signs-of-competence” article following Tuesday’s preseason game, the Charlotte Observer’s Tom Sorensen wrote, “Every time (Kemba) Walker had the ball you sat up a little straighter and stopped talking with the people next to you, because you knew something was going to happen and it probably was going to be good.” Judging by the turnout, I’m surprised Sorensen had anyone sitting next to him.
In front of dozens of fans at Time Warner Arena, a mix of Bobcats and random strangers dressed as Bobcats defeated the Atlanta Hawks, 79-77. The game and its implications were very much like those of the movie Eraserhead: low-budget, nightmarish, and probably meaningless. For me, the four most most “wow” moments of the night were as follows:
- Early in the telecast when announcer Steve Martin proclaimed that the players made out much better in the current labor deal than they did back in 1999. If that’s the case, then I pray he has a law degree so I can recommend him to my wife should we ever divorce.
- Taylor Griffin. That’s right, in the tradition of Bill Simmons, Charlotte now has its very own Frank Stallone! (side note: what’s the deal with the Griffin family naming conventions—do all the kids rock the double last name? Is there a third brother called “Anderson” and a sister named “Hernandez”?)
- The fleshy appearance of Gana Diop. We’d all heard that he’s 25 pounds overweight. Upon seeing him, my first thought was, “What about the other arm?” Dude is waaay more than 25 pounds overweight. He was a frightening, shambling, spectral sight out there—Bigfoot but with not as high a field goal percentage. Still, I credit him for lasting 18 minutes and—um, swallowing—7 boards…especially in light of Melvin Ely, who apparently dehydrated while flying a plane—huh?? How does one do that? Was it some pre-WWI plane for which he had to manually crank the propellers himself?
- Derrick Brown and DJ White. Brown can’t really dribble (3 TOs) and I wish White would go by his full first name, because now we’ve got two DJ’s and a BJ to keep track of. But between the two of them, we have some great, cheap energy (and cool facial hair, to boot). They combined for 18 points, 3 blocks, and 16 boards. And I think of all of the scoring was garbage put-backs. In fact, I’ve come up with the perfect nickname for them, “Toilet Paper” (or “TP”): White and Brown and cleans up the shit.
And if you, like me, were blown away by the offensive fireworks in this game, just think what it will be like once Corey Maggette suits up! Actually, it will probably be the same score, but the game will just take 10 minutes longer, because Maggette’s points all come via free throws.
Outside of the game itself, there was a ridiculous level of self-satisfaction emanating from management for all of their hard work in producing this dream team. Sideline reporter Stephanie Ready repeatedly quoted Rod Higgins and Michael Jordan saying that the “heavy lifting” of roster moves was complete. To recap: this “heavy lifting” included completing the contract for Bismack Biyombo and acquiring Byron Mullins. Phew! I can see why they might need a breather after those blockbusters—try to pace yourselves, management. But wait, but don’t rest too much: you still need to decide whether or not to tender Dante Cunningham. Should we let him go or match Memphis’s 3-year, $4-million guaranteed offer!? Oh, the intrigue. I’m exhausted just thinking about it…