The Bobcats’ first two regular season games have been so exciting that they’ve moved Charlotte Observer writer Scott Fowler to new heights of prose. After our opening night 1-point win over Milwaukee, Fowler described it as “good theater” in his post-game column. But our narrow loss to the defending Eastern Conference Champion Heat on Wednesday wasn’t just good theater for Fowler, “it was great theater.” I can only imagine how he’s going to react to our upcoming game with Orlando.
Theatrics aside, there’s a ton to appreciate to the Bobcats 1-1 start, both with our team and with the opposition (I’m just so glad basketball is back in our lives!). Here are my takeaways, in chronological order:
- Stephen Jackson. He’s no longer on our team! Somebody else’s problem! Enjoy, Milwaukee, enjoy…
- Brandon Jenning. not to sound too paternalistic, but as an NBA-lover, I’m just glad/relieved that he’s doing well. For a while there, it wasn’t looking so good. Although Jennings is marketed as a trendsetting rebel for choosing to play overseas instead of going to college, the oft-ignored part of this narrative is the fact that his low/shady SAT scores prevented him from getting into college in the first place. And then when he came late to the draft and got paired off with the combustible Scott Skiles in a mid-western city, I could almost see the white mainstream media licking their chops over an imminent “thug” incident to gleefully and condescendingly report (a la the Cincinnati-Xavier brawl). But it hasn’t happened; he’s been a good player and an all-around solid citizen…and there is nothing to see here, NBA-hating society. Also, in an unrelated note, Jennings was the source of the biggest unintentionally funny part of the night (after Stephen Jackson): TV commentator Steve Martin spent most of the first quarter continually remarking on how great Jennings was at “finishing with his left,” apparently unaware that Jennings is left-handed.
- Drew Gooden. First of all, congratulations on your second consecutive year with the same team; that’s gotta be some sort of tenure record for you. Second, I know I should hate Gooden for the flagrant foul he committed on Gerald Henderson, but I just can’t, not after the ducktail—remember the ducktail? C’mon, you can’t be mad at him. It’s like getting mad at Lenny in Of Mice and Men; he can’t help it.
- Byron “BJ” Mullins. I know it’s been only two games, but I never thought I’d say anything about him other than some cheap “BJ”-related jokes or the fact that his picture looks disturbingly like a better-groomed (and smiling) Adam Morrison. But he’s demonstrated an excellent mid-range shooting touch on a team that sorely needs it. And at least in Tulsa, he was good for about 7-ish boards a game in 30-ish minutes of PT—that bodes well for us once his minutes start to increase, right? (Side question: why are they called the “Tulsa 66ers”? What happened in Tulsa in ’66? Was it 1966 or 1866?)
- Bismack Biyombo. Ummm…how about that Byron Mullins! Okay, I’m not going to push the panic button on this one just yet, but in my notes in the first game I wrote, “No points, no boards, but he did have a nice looking 3-second violation.” In the second game I was just relieved that he didn’t celebrate his first field goal as if it were a soccer goal. Forgive me if I’m overly-concerned that Biyombo will become a spectacular flop, but I’m still haunted by the ghosts of our other foreign-born acquisitions (Alexis Ajinca and Walter Herrmann).
- The Miami Heat Defense. Trust me, I was furiously losing my mind as much as anyone else when we started coughing up the ball in the second half against Miami. But if we were coughing, it was the Heat who was telling the funny joke as we were drinking the can of Fanta,,,meaning the Heat caused those turnovers with stellar defense (sorry, I’ve been reading too many Kevin Garnett quotes). They also executed a smothering rotation that seemed to create a double-team at all times. It was suffocating and it was impressive.
- Dwyane Wade. I’m still trying to decide if it’s arrogant for one to praise one’s own tribute to someone. “It’s a great homage to him,” Wade said of his “Superman” gesture towards Cam Newton after he made the winning shot. He meant, of course, that he wasn’t trying to show Newton up, which obviously would be arrogant; Wade was only doing it as a sign of respect. At the same time, he referred to what he did as “great”—isn’t that being arrogant? It would have been arrogant if Jimi Hendrix had called his rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock a “great homage to our national anthem,” right? Or what if whoever created the Vietnam Memorial in DC had called it a “great homage to soldiers who lost their lives”? Doesn’t that sound arrogant? On the other hand, maybe Wade meant that it was an homage to a “great player” and just mixed up the words (?). I don’t know, but either way, I appreciated the thought experiment in etiquette that he presented me with—I thought it was great!