What We'll Remember About the Charlotte Bobcats
Come on, admit it! You'll miss the Charlotte Bobcats at least a little bit.
The Bobcats' name alone became synonymous with losing, and Michael Jordan's crew unfortunately found themselves as the butt of a lot of jokes across the NBA. However, times have changed and this franchise has never been in a better state than the one it is in currently. The Hornets are definitely coming back with some significant buzz.
The few highs were definitely outweighed by the significant lows, but the Bobcats can bow out with dignity as they showed an extraordinary amount of grit and intensity in winning 43 games this past year.
The question now remains as to what sort of legacy this team has left behind. What moments and overall impactful happenings came out of this team's brief existence?
With one fell swoop, LeBron James and his Miami Heat rid the NBA world of the Bobcats, but the memories cannot be forgotten.
February 2010: Michael Jordan Buys the Bobcats
After years of futility, owner Robert L. Johnson decided to sell his majority share of the Charlotte Bobcats to the greatest NBA player the world has ever seen.
In 2010, Michael Jordan became the first former NBA player to become the majority owner of an NBA franchise. Fans were giddy at the proposition of Jordan circling back to his North Carolina days and taking the wheel of their floundering Bobcats.
For a couple of years, nothing went right. Expectations were outrageous simply because Jordan's name was attached. Players were shuffled in and out. Jordan struggled to strike gold both with high draft picks and also with his coaching hires.
It was not until this past 2013-14 season that Jordan was able to assemble a legitimate club that the fanbase could be proud of and cherish going forward. He appeared to finally get the right guy with the defensive-minded Steve Clifford hiring, a man who changed the culture of this locker room unlike anybody was able to do before him.
It took a few years, but Michael Jordan's imprint is starting to be felt on this team. The franchise has a much more palpable sense of excitement, which was even evident in its recent playoff sweep. Fans stood and applauded the effort of their Bobcats, and Jordan was right there courtside to congratulate them on taking a big step forward.
The day that Jordan took over was monumental for this franchise. Now, he just needs to continue getting this team to resemble the types of teams he used to play for.
June 2006: Bobcats Draft Adam Morrison No. 3 Overall
That picture in general just has to make Bobcats fans cringe.
Emeka Okafor was supposed to be a franchise center after leading his UConn Huskies to a national title and was selected right after Dwight Howard at No. 2 overall. In 2005, they took two hometown kids in Raymond Felton and Sean May, who had previously led the local North Carolina Tar Heels to a title. Felton was taken fifth overall and May went at No. 13.
All three underwhelmed, but none was the kind of bust Adam Morrison was. It is astonishing now to think that those four were supposed to be the nucleus of a contender. Morrison was the first draft pick in the Jordan era, who at the time was the manager of basketball operations.
Morrison came to the league amongst a whirlwind of hype after an unbelievable career at Gonzaga. He scored 15.3 points a game in his first month of his career, and it was all downhill from there. Morrison showed no semblance of offensive consistency whatsoever and was a nightmare on defense throughout his rookie year. He then tore his ACL in the preseason of his sophomore campaign and again slugged through his third season before getting traded to the Lakers, where he flamed out after a year and a half.
What hurt most is that he averaged 28.1 points in his final college season, yet only scored 30 points one time in his NBA career. There is nothing positive to say about his brief stay in the league.
The main reason the Bobcats did not have any sustained level of success was because they squandered far too many high draft picks. One could make the argument that every player the Bobcats drafted in the first round in their 10 years has not lived up to expectations with the possible exceptions of Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson. The jury is still out on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as well as Bismack Biyombo (who came over in a trade on draft night), but early impressions are weak. Felton, May, D.J. Augustin and Alexis Ajinca all flamed out as well.
Despite all the poor draft picks, none stung quite like Morrison. He had otherworldly hype coming to town, and he fell flat on his face. It is unfortunate that his poor showing will forever cast a shadow over Bobcats history.
February 2010: Gerald Wallace Becomes First Bobcats All-Star
It may have been forgettable due to the lack of success the team had, but Gerald Wallace was a complete monster during his Bobcats days.
Wallace came to Charlotte as an irrelevant cast-off from the Sacramento Kings. He left as the man affectionately known as "Crash," and he will go down in history as the only All-Star to don a Bobcats uniform. Wallace finally put together all of his great athletic gifts to turn into one of the most tenacious two-way players in basketball.
During his lone All-Star season, Wallace averaged 18.2 points and 10 rebounds while also logging 33 double-doubles and making the NBA's heralded All-Defensive First Team.
Wallace eventually led the team to the playoffs with help from fellow veterans Jason Richardson and Stephen Jackson, but that success was short-lived.
His crazy style of play has rendered him incapable of posting numbers anywhere near his All-Star days, as it is likely that his countless episodes of diving on the floor and flying into the stands have caught up with him.
It is only fitting that the franchise's all-time leader in points, games played, steals, free throws and defensive rebounds goes down as the team's only All-Star. Wallace undoubtedly would have loved to bring this team more overall success, but it was for sure not from a lack of effort. Crash was the Bobcats' best player ever.
April 2012: The Worst Season of All-Time
You knew this slide was coming. The Bobcats hit rock bottom in the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season and crawled through a laughably horrible 7-59 record. Only the lockout prevented them from continuing the chase towards the all-time loss record, but they did set the record for futility by posting a .106 winning percentage, the worst in NBA history.
That year, the Bobcats had a 16-game losing streak early on, which seemed like nothing compared to the 23-game losing streak they ripped off to end the season. Jordan adamantly stated his team was not tanking, and it was actually believable that they were just that bad.
The Bobcats' young talent in Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo were far from developed. Guys like Byron Mullens and Derrick Brown were starting and earning huge minutes. Corey Maggette and Tyrus Thomas were perpetually injured. There just was no legitimate talent on the team.
The icing on the cake was that Charlotte fell short in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes in the following NBA draft lottery, landing the No. 2 pick and ultimately snagging Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, which still left the team without a future star to build around.
In front of all the poor performances and losing seasons is this gigantic black eye on the Bobcats' legacy. Winning seven games over the course of an entire season is inexcusable, but the Bobcats put that in the rearview mirror as well as they possibly could have. Charlotte doubled its win total in each of the next two seasons and now heads back into the Hornets era with its head held high.
April 2010/2014: Two Lone Playoff Appearances
The Bobcats made their first playoff appearances after the 2009-10 season only to get swept by the Orlando Magic.
Charlotte's second trip this past season rendered the same result, but it had a different feel to it. The Bobcats were dealt an insurmountable blow in Game 1 when Al Jefferson strained his plantar fascia. He was a shell of his usual self the rest of the series, but even so the Bobcats proved to not be completely outmatched by the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.
Despite not winning a game, the Bobcats outscored Miami while LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were on the court. They committed tough fouls, hit big shots and mostly held their own against a much more talented and experienced club. No one expected them to win, but in defeat they ushered back the Hornets era with a lot of pride.
The defining moment of the series arguably came after it all was over, and LeBron walked over to congratulate Jordan, who then embraced all his young Bobcats on their way back to the locker room.
It took until the final game of their existence, but the Bobcats finally looked like they had arrived. James and Wade had nothing but praise to offer them after the series, and their trajectory is headed straight up behind a perfect coach, a new culture and a new star.
The Bobcats' legacy was mostly putrid, but it ended on a very high note. The buzz has a lot to build on heading into next year, and fans have every reason to be excited about the return of the teal and purple.