This appears in nba.com
Bobcats in Clipperland
by rick olivares
LeBron, Heat trump hapless Bobcats.
That was the headline on ESPN the other day when the defending champions positively crushed Charlotte.
The Bobcats, an expansion club that rose from the ashes of the departure of the Hornets for New Orleans, has from its debut improved slowly over the years save for occasional step backs. But since the Bobcats made the playoffs in 2010 (where they were promptly swept out of the NBA’s second season by the Orlando Magic), they’ve further fallen into infamy with the NBA’s worst ever record (although the last season was shortened by a strike) of 7-59.
After the loss to Miami, Charlotte was at 7-21. It sounds cruel but at least they have matched last season‘s win total and that the only way to go when you’re down is up.
The sad thing about this whole affair is the club has the best player to ever play in the NBA in Michael Jordan for an owner. But that has sadly not translated into a winning season.
If the losing continues, the Bobcats will have inherited from the Los Angeles Clippers the tag of the worst/sad sack/doormat (choose what appellation you is appropriate) team in the league.
The Clippers have for the past couple of seasons, challenged the Lakers for the supremacy in Los Angeles and in the standings. They’ve become exciting to watch and have a team of talented players who could challenge for the NBA title for years to come.
It wasn’t too long ago when the Clippers were the model of NBA futility as they amassed a horrific record of 607-1153. In that time that spanned 22 years, their head of basketball operations was Elgin Baylor who before Jordan took the throne was one of the greatest to play the game.
Baylor was one of those first players to suspend belief with his acrobatic and daring drives and prodigious scoring ways. However, as an executive, Baylor’s Clippers won only one playoff series. And there was the matter of his losing years as head coach of the New Orleans Jazz.
And now the latest greatest player who ever lived – Jordan – is finding life as an NBA executive far different from than what he was as a player. He couldn’t make it work in Washington and now the cycle repeats itself in Charlotte. And in the midst of all of this, I recall when Jordan was at the forefront of the NBA Players Associations battle with the team owners following during the lockout that preceded the 1998-99 season. Said Jordan to Pollin, “If you can’t make a profit, you should sell your team.”
Pollin had the last laugh as he later fired Jordan as head of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards. And now Jordan can’t get his team to compete. It does ring: “If you can’t make a profit then you should sell your team.”
In the Bobcats’ nine seasons, they have had five head coaches. That’s close to two years per coach. And despite having some good coaches, they’ve not exactly drafted well. Furthermore, they have not traded well. This revolving door for coaches and players makes the club look like being sentenced to the Gulag of pro basketball.
A cursory glance to the New York Knicks shows them on the upsurge now after a decade where everything bad that could happen to them happened to them. They began their resurgence when they hired Donnie Walsh, a sane basketball man if there was ever one. They began to unload the high-priced players they had and began to draft and trade better. Of course, Walsh is no longer around but the effects of what he began are bearing fruit.
Not a knock on the Bobcat’ s general manager Rich Cho who is a student of sabermetrics or the use of statistics in making drafts and trades. Cho didn’t too well with Portland and was fired a year into the job.
Sure a team needs good players and even excellent coaches. But usually it has to start from the top. The Bobcats need to bring in shrewd operators who know how to get the right personnel for the job. Otherwise, these Bobcats, now inhabitants of that lonely place at the bottom once called Clipperland will find themselves going the route of the Hornets.