Hornets Hype

In a basement. In our pajamas.

Archive for May, 2008

What Could Have Been

By on May 31, 2008

No doubt. The Hornets had an amazing season. But as I put away some of the Hornets stuff laying around the house, I flip through the ticket book that the team sent us for the playoffs. You see, when ticktock and I re-upped our season tickets for next year, we guaranteed ourselves our seats for the entire Playoff run, no matter how long that might have been. And so yes, we are proud holders of Western Conference Finals and NBA Finals tickets that are as valuable as “Hornets: Western Conference Finals” t-shirts, part of the annual tragedy of pre-emptive merchandising, destined to lay in the gutters of eBay could-have-been memorabilia.

The dream….for the future…But at the same time, I feel strangely hopeful. Despite the sour taste that the end of this season left in my mouth, I don’t feel as if my hopes and dreams have been crushed in the sense of, “wow, this was our last shot–we’ll never get back here.” Quite the opposite. I can only imagine the feeling I have now is a lot like what Lakers fans felt the last year Kobe and Shaq got bumped from the Playoffs before tearing through the league for 3 straight rings.

This team is good. And I only expect them to get better in the offseason. Our core is under contract (CP, DX, TC, Mo, and Peja). We have guys that came to the team late with tons of talent, and with a full offseason and training camp behind them, look to contribute in big ways (Bird, Mike James, and maybe Bonzi). Not to the two young bucks that are looking for breakout seasons (Hilton and Ju-Ju). Obviously we need to decide out of these 10 if still want Bonzi and Bird back, whose contracts have expired. Bowen and Ely are similarly past contract, and questions remain about what role they would play next season, if any.

Of course this leaves questions about two players. The big name unmentioned is JP. He has a player option. Will he opt out? Will he stay? And if he opts out will he look to come back? What about Rasual “mmm-bob” Butler? He’s locked down for 2 more years at an average of $3.8 million per. Will he regain his shooting touch? Will he get out of Byron’s doghouse? Will they look to shop him? As a bonus, the salaries of Arvydas Macijauskas, Bernard Robinson, and Mile Ilic finally fall off the salary cap (freeing up almost $4.5 million).

One thing we do know, is that Byron is coming back, and that is huge. He is obviously one of the best coaches in the league. But who will the Hornets take with the 27th pick in the draft? Will he make the team? Will he make an impact? Will they have any interest in bringing back either Marcus Vinicius (a.k.a Marquinhos) or Adam Haluska? Obviously AH never got a shot here, but is exactly what this team needs: a 2-guard dead-on shooter. What about free agency at-large? Who’s available? Who can we afford? Who do we want?

I’m not sure what the answers to these questions are. But I know one thing. I’m hopeful. Even without any big moves, I love our core. They’re not just great players, but they’re great men. They’re great friends. They’re a great team. They’re only going to get better and so are the guys around them. Everyone can clearly see the goal now. It’s not just about scrabbling out way to the top 8 in the West, it’s championship or bust. And without resorting to the unabashed bluster and hype for which this blog is best known, I think I can simply say that I honestly, truly, in the deepest recesses of my heart or soul or whatever organ or ephemeral entrail encompasses that part of us that can hope, dream, pray, or imagine: I believe.

I know someday I’ll see that golden trophy in our guys’ hands. I really do. It’s like deja vu, but it hasn’t happened yet. So maybe I should say, I remember. The Hornets. Winning. A. Championship.

Finally! The NBA plans to impose fines on floppers next season. (Why oh why couldn’t they have come up with this idea sooner, so we could all be watching Hornets/Lakers right now?) So, right on. If players feel they’re not doing the right thing unless they fall on the floor to “sell” calls, something is awry. Hockey eventually began to penalize diving, and that’s worked out pretty well. Of course, the best part of this article is what Rasheed Wallace had to say about it. I won’t quote it here because, hey, this is not a Sheed blog, but trust me. You’ll be (expletive) entertained.

Over on the official blog, it’s been announced that they’re going to have Hornets Insider articles, along with a couple of other new features, next season. The first one is Eight Things to Know About NBA Scouting, which was an interesting read, especially the parts about the off-the-court stuff the Hornets look at in prospects.

And don’t forget to go to At the Hive and vote on the How’d He Do? season player review series. He’s done Ely, Peterson, West, and Wells so far. (Wow, I decided I was gonna go with all last names on that one to keep it consistent, but it felt really weird to type. Like my fingers really were resistant to not throwing in nicknames or initials. Wah.)

And here’s a sentence you never thought you’d see:

The Spurs are going to have to put better players around their big three. They’re going to have to get younger and more athletic, and they’ll need to get a better power forward to match up with David West in N.O., and Pau Gasol (who will move to the 4 when Andrew Bynum returns) or Odom in L.A.

That’s from the ESPN Roundtable today, which discusses the Spurs’ future. I just love the name drop of D West. A year ago, you didn’t think you’d see that, did you? (Of course you didn’t think Gasol would be in L.A., either, come to think of it…) They also call the Hornets “ascendant.”

Ascendant. Great word.

Anyhow, tomorrow morning I’m taking a flight to Syracuse, on my way to visit the (expletive) awesomeness that is St. Lawrence University, where I will be getting up to All. Sorts. Of. Trouble at my 5 Year Reunion. So I will clearly not be seen in these parts until Monday, not that I’ve been posting much lately anyway. But I do want to go through that playoff swag next week and figure out what to send to who. So ticktock6 = partying. Ticktock6 = not in the NOLA.

And then next Friday is my birthday, which, if someone wants to make it a real memorable one, you know, it would be great to wake up and be notified that next year’s season tickets are now free. Or like, Tyson Chandler on my doorstep… I’m just saying. No? Fine, I’ll just have a Tanqueray and tonic, I guess…

Later, Buzz Friends. I’m out like Ginobili’s flop.

B Scott chills in a t-shirt at the press conferenceAccording to the Times Picayune, he had seven days to accept or reject the contract extension offer the Hornets had on the table. They’re reporting he accepted today. Smart man. But we all knew that.

It was hard to imagine him leaving the team he built, especially for the messes in Phoenix and Chicago. His new deal will up his salary from $3.5 million to $5-6 million. So we can all breathe a sigh of relief… well, a mini-sigh. We’ll save the big sigh for when they lock up CP3.

Hear that?

No?

Oh well.

… That sound you did not hear emanating from the southern U.S. was thousands of fans in Phoenix and New Orleans completely failing to summon up a collective cry of concern and outrage on behalf of the San Antonio Spurs.

New Hornets Wallpaper

By on May 25, 2008

In two sizes: 1280×960 and 1024×768.

Wallpaper is by Dariusz Ejkiewicz, and you should really go check out the rest of his portfolio, because his Hornets wallpapers are awesome!

No I in Team

I’m trying to move on, really. I’ve been posting on other blogs. I’ve been trying to stay upbeat. I still have the fleur-de-bee desktop picture on my work computer. But being that guy who believes in conspiracies, I started thinking about the teams not named the Magic or Hornets and wondered why David Stern might favor those match-ups….

It could be a Spurs-Pistons, whereby these new Motown kids finally assert their championship pedigree as more than a fluke, or the Spurs solidify their status as a dynasty. Or maybe Kobe does what Shaq couldn’t, namely, beat the Pistons, and makes his own legend; or on the flip side, the Pistons prove they are true champions, beating the Lakers again. Of course, Celtics and anyone is a win for Stern. Beantown’s glory restored by the Boston Three Party; a group of revered veterans get their shots. If they play the Spurs, either the Boston team returns to glory, or the Spurs prove that they are one of the best teams ever. If the Lakers, well, what more can you say, it’s Lakers-Celtics. Stern’s dream come true.

But none of these scenarios include the Hornets and their Hive–which had begun to feel like a second home. And this still feels wrong. So I make a decision to stand by my gut reaction. I decide to refuse to acquiesce to David Stern’s vision of NBA harmony. Sorry, not everyone accepts his Cancer Man-like manipulation. I choose to exercise my freedom not to watch his pre-fab games.

Maybe I’m wrong. But, yes, I still believe he has the power and the will to control games. No, it’s not something that shows up in box scores. It’s not about comparing free throws. It’s about momentum. It’s about psychology. It’s about subtlety. Ask Tim Donaghy. It’s about knowing when what calls will change something without anyone being able to prove anything. Because that’s what makes it a good conspiracy.

But I won’t bite. No more NBA for me. I’m on strike. I won’t just eat whatever bread crumbs are led for me to follow. It’s an NBA Hunger Strike. And this revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged. Check it out. Or not. That’s your right.

Closure

By on May 24, 2008

mW gets closure from creating distance between himself and everything related to the NBA. But I knew I had one more season-ending slideshow creation in me.

And this is it.

This is the End…

By on May 22, 2008

…The End. Cue The Doors music. Maybe even the swirling ceiling fan reminiscent of the beginning of Apocalypse Now. Consider Jeff Bower our Francis Ford Coppola. Besides, it’s plenty hot and humid now in the Big Easy. And for Hornets fans, the NBA season is over. It’s a hard pill to swallow. All I know is that somehow, over the course of the season, I became a lot more invested in this team than I ever expected to. Somehow, they made me believe.

The EndI attended every home game this year, and watched every televised road game, while catching a few of the rest on the internet, falling just short of catching all of them in one way or another. I screamed my throat raw in pretty much every regard, home or away, watching in a crowded bar or on my couch. I got yelled at once by a neighbor below me for jumping up and down too much during a game. A stranger next to me at a game once told me I needed anger management. It’s been emotional.

Then, somewhere along the way, ticktock6 started this blog and a passion became an obsession. Suddenly watching all the games, garnering support around town, and spending my money at the Arena to help the team weren’t enough. Suddenly I was surfing the internet compulsively, looking for stats, stories, and scoops, all while trying to keep up with tt6′s incomparable wit. And now it’s come to an end. For this season. And it hurts. It hurts bad.

It doesn’t help that I leave the season with the sincere belief that my team was more talented than the one that moved past us in the second round. Fuck, I felt they were as good as any team in the league. Really, I still do. So far, I haven’t managed to watch a third round game; this after watching part of every single Playoff game up to this point–other than the one that was simulcast with a Hornets game that I attended. I guess I don’t know how to deal with it yet. How to deal with such a surprising end. How do deal with the end at all. Or how to deal with a league that for some reason never really embraced the success story that was the Hornets.

The Hive…like it or not…I wondered why a lot. The country loved the story of the Saints returning to the Dome a year ago. But then again, that was a redemptory moment, one that symbolically effaced the pain and suffering of a destroyed city. I guess it’s a lot harder for the country to accept that the Hornets have done just as much, if not more, for the revival of New Orleans than the Saints, when no one even wants to acknowledge that this city is still rebuilding. America likes quick fixes and happy endings. Only it’s not that easy here.

And so it becomes about free agency and draft picks and moving on. So I guess that’s what I’ll do. But it’s obvious that I put a little too much of my soul into the team this year. I need to step back. Not that I don’t want to be a fan, or even an ardent one at that. But I need to remind myself that at the end of the day this is just a game. And for now, it’s The End.

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes…again

Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need…of some…stranger’s hand
In a…desperate land

HornetsHype isn’t going anywhere. But for now, the Playoffs are over. The season is over.

The End.

Oh, and P.S.

By on May 21, 2008

Damn, I said I was gone. I lie, lie, lie.

I’m planning on doing an inventory of any extra Hornets freebies we’ve accumulated over the course of the playoffs. FYI, it’s going to end up going something like, “20 cheer cards, 6 Pejas on Sticks, 2 XL Fan Up! t-shirts, 5 posters, 1 towel, and 4 GEAUX HORNETS car decals.” No, seriously. There is a crawl space behind our entertainment center where we have just been chucking the extras for the last month and a half. If you are an out of town fan and you’d be interested in random Hornets freebies, check back here in the beginning of June. I’ll see if I can try to put something in the mail to you guys.

UPDATE: OK, so I know for a fact I am not going to have a FAN UP t-shirt for everyone who wants one (I’m talking 2-3 tops, all gold, because I was in Tampa for the teal game and because the white one is the only one that is a M and remotely fits me so I’m keeping it), so I wanted to let you know that there are currently several on EBay. I typed in “New Orleans Hornets fan up” and a bunch of them in different colors popped up. I’ll even link you the search.

All right, folks. It’s going to be tough, but I think I’m going to take the rest of the week off! Can’t be blogging every day now that the Hornets are done. (mW may want to do some kind of wrap-up post, but I think he’s shunning basketball while the pain is fresh.) This is going to be sort of an experiment in trying to wean myself slowly and painlessly off of blogging. Hopefully I can do it. I’ll still be hanging around the comments, of course. mW succeeded in not watching Celtics/Pistons last night. I watched the 4th quarter, but then the players looked too happy, so I had to turn it off.

And actually, now that the Hornets are done, it’s hitting me that there’s a surprising amount of real life stuff coming up for me. I’m going to be flying to upstate NY for my 5th college reunion next weekend, my birthday is the 6th, and as soon as I get back in town, I’ve got a massive job search coming up this summer. So, you know, if you know anyone who needs an English major, even just for the summer… fairly good writer… works well with both kids and adults… waits tables like a champ… I’m just putting it out there… :-)

But don’t worry. I’ll probably pop back in sooner or later with some funny YouTube stuff, or something similarly lighthearted. In the meantime, feel free to discuss the future in the free agency thread (if, like me, you’re finding it hard to get over the Hornets). Or hey, give us some suggestions for next year! Should we just do the exact same thing? Continue to cover the Hornets from a hugely biased and rabid fan perspective? Add Honeybees?

I won’t leave you totally broken and alone, however. I’ll leave you with some parting words from Sporting News.

There’s a reason why you heard thousands of basketball fans moan aloud as the San Antonio Spurs finished off the New Orleans Hornets. It’s because, despite his much-publicized mean streak, Chris Paul is love.

Or — let me calm down a second here — Paul is the living, breathing epitome of the “I love this game” philosophy that still governs most fans’ attachment to the NBA. He did amazing things on the court, competed with every inch and ounce he had, showed emotion, showed compassion and showed generosity, gave strength to a broken city and created storylines for days.

Put simply, he made you feel good to sit in front of the television for three hours.

Aw. Love. Peace, buzz friends! I’m out like Isiah Thomas.