NBA scholars of future generations will look back at this era of basketball and ask themselves: “The Vancouver Grizzlies? How did this unholy concoction ever actually exist?” They will also say: “Wait, what, there once existed a thing called the Charlotte Bobcats?” The Bobcats are improving their reputation immeasurably by, starting next season, adopting the name of a team that’s won five playoff series in a 25-year history.
Let’s venture back to spring 2010, shall we? Under the firm but temporary direction of Larry “Next Town” Brown, the Bobcats managed to take their first-ever peak at the mystical lands above .500, earning themselves their first-ever entry into the playoffs. What a roster that team had! Mercurial, edgy personalities everywhere you looked! There’s Gerald Wallace, in his prime, baring his soul during his nightly 41 minutes, averaging a stout double-double. There’s Boris Diaw, yet unclaimed by the San Antonio Spurs, no doubt still heartbroken over his recent eviction from Steve Nash’s Suns. There’s Tyson Chandler, a scant twelve months from hoisting the championship trophy with the Dallas Mavericks, earning just as many minutes as a 36-year-old Theo Ratliff. Raja Bell! Raymond Felton! Larry Hughes! Tyrus Thomas! Rookie Gerald Henderson, yet untainted by the deluge of futility to come! The barely-there Vladimir Radmonivic! A fresh-faced D.J. Augustin! DeSagana Diop, in his first of four consecutive seasons of playing less than 30 games a year and averaging less than five points per 36 minutes! How was all of this chaos bunched together on the same team, people?!
And then they ran into the Orlando Magic and Dwight Howard—before Howard universally annoyed the world, back when Stan Van Gundy’s one-in/four-out designs still felled teams like a blindside haymaker—and got swept, the Bobcats managing a series high of 90 points in a game.
Before we turn the page on the well-soiled Bobcats name, I’d really like to see them nab a game from the mighty Miami Heat. To expect more than one victory from Charlotte in the series can only reflect a belief that the Heat are still idling in neutral warm-up mode. It would be a token victory, perhaps hollow solace compared to the opportunity to enter this year’s vaunted lottery. But the Charlotte NBA Franchise is on a journey of a thousand miles and they need to take as many steps as possible. I hope, for just one evening, that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can bamboozle LeBron James, that Al Jefferson drives Chris Bosh to tears with dozens of plodding possessions from the left block, that the majestically bearded Josh McRoberts can find more arrows in his quiver than Ray Allen. I hope the Bobcats win a playoff game. I mean why not.