Hornets Hype

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Archive for the ‘ Tyson is a Beast ’ Category

Closing That Door

By on April 12, 2010

I don’t feel super pumped about last night’s blowout win over the T-Wolves to close out the Hornets’ home schedule, but I don’t feel bad about it either. They didn’t lose. They didn’t play down to a terrible team. They didn’t blow a lead. They managed to pull themselves together enough to do the right thing for the fans.

Where are we going? Where have we been?

Byron Scott is gone. Rasual Butler, Tyson Chandler, Devin Brown, and Hilton Armstrong are gone. The Hornets overcame a terrible start to give us a scrappy, fun January and February, only to lose the franchise player to what pretty much ended up being a season-ending injury. (Oh, if it weren’t for that one errant pass and that one unfortunately positioned cameraman! What might have been!) Once they realized they were missing the playoffs, you could see the fire sort of go out of them, as we watched the inevitable slide toward the end of the season.

George Shinn is reportedly in the midst of selling the team to (local! richer!) minority partner Gary Chouest. This may mean big front office changes are on the way, heading into the offseason. This may mean the end, finally, of those pesky rumors we read every five minutes about how cheap the team is and how they’re going to move. We might have seen the last of Jeff Bower, as both coach and GM. The Hornets had one of the best drafts in the NBA in 2009. I discovered a new favorite player. We’ll most likely have the 11th pick in June.  Lots of stuff went down this season. It will continue to go down as we head into the draft and the summer.

I have not given my opinion on this blog about the upcoming sale of the team, but anyone who’s read Hornets Hype long enough can guess what it is easily enough. From the beginning, we’ve been about exactly two things: 1) Watching this team rise, under the leadership of the basketball magician Chris Paul, and 2) Keeping the team in New Orleans. Period. And I just don’t see how Shinn selling the team is anything but great news, when it comes to those two things we  care about the most. Chouest is local.  He’s got deeper pockets than Shinn; he’s got money coming from other places and therefore more resources. He doesn’t just want a basketball team– he wants a basketball team in New Orleans.

Looking back on the season, I realize I had more fun watching this year than I did in 2008-09, even though the team won 14 less games. So I can’t really say it was all a waste. It wouldn’t be true. Last night before tipoff, the rookies took the court to address the crowd (Lil Buckets is not the best public speaker– he not only looked 10 times more nervous than he’s ever looked while playing, but he hilariously started off his speech with, “Yeaaahh, so I know we didn’t have a real good season, but… “). I can’t think of anything more fitting– more than any other players on the team, this was their season. Watching Marcus Thornton go from wearing a suit to being a 20 PPG starter was worth the price of admission. Add in Collison’s masterful turn in substituting for the injured Chris Paul, and these two were the reason to watch. And you know what? I’m also going to shout out David West here, who, in case you didn’t notice, turned it on in the last two months of the season and particularly outdid himself in terms of assists, passing better this spring than he has in his entire career.

On a personal note, the Hype is doing the house-buying thing, so that’s why I haven’t been around much in the last couple weeks. Of course, the Hornets haven’t been around much in the last couple weeks either… It is what it is. We’ll probably have something to say about the playoffs. We’ll definitely have stuff to say about the draft. We’ll be around.

I don’t know. I just feel very strongly that all is not lost. I feel like big things are around the corner.

We’ll be here, waiting.

This trade is what the phrase “mixed feelings” was made for.

Miss you, Tyson!So the Hornets are trading Tyson Chandler. Again. And it looks like it’s going to go through this time. To tell you the truth, I’m relieved. Yes, I wanted us to keep TC. I wanted to see him get healthy and prove he could still be the player he was at his best. He was one of my favorite Hornets. But… I know I would personally find it hard to give 100% to a team that you knew tried to give you away. I want Tyson on our team. But I also want him to get a fresh start. And I don’t want “are we going to trade him or not?” hanging over our heads until February.

To hear about the nightmare OKC trade, in which the team tried to swap an elite defensive center (say what you will about the season he had this year, and about his offense, but the numbers say this is a fact) for two scrubs who couldn’t get off the bench on the worst team in the NBA, and then to listen to all the other trade rumors — scrub, scrub, guy who’s going to retire and be bought out, scrub– this summer… and then the name Emeka Okafor comes up. How is that not a relief? It’s the first name mentioned with Tyson Chandler that belongs to a player of the same caliber– actually, a slightly better caliber.

Okafor is a 14/10 career guy. He’s the same age as Tyson but he has less wear and tear on him due to playing three years of a college schedule as opposed to being in the NBA since age 18. His deal is longer, but it’s backloaded, which means the team gets savings of about $2 million a year for the next two years. I’m guessing they’re banking on the fact that their cap issues only matter for the next two years anyway, since Peja and Mo Pete come off the books and we go under in 2011 whatever happens. If you accept as a premise the fact that the Hornets’ front office was going to trade Chandler, then this is one of the best possible outcomes. So it’s hard to be upset.

At the same time, I feel kind of guilty about not being upset. I mean, they had to go and trade my favorite player for another one who’s actually good and who I actually like. Who’s undisputedly the best out of all the names that have come up. I will miss Tyson Chandler. All the great things I said about him in the post I wrote when he was traded to OKC are still true. I will miss the Crescent City Connection. I will miss his humor. I will miss how he could fire up the arena. I’ll still wear his jersey and remember how much fun it all was, that magical year when I was just getting into basketball, and he was my favorite player on the team.

But you don’t look back. You look ahead, and what’s ahead looks pretty good too. And then you realize the reason you’re not upset is because this is something you accepted a long time ago.

So It Is As It Was

By on April 11, 2009

Undoubtedly, the Hornets look to be headed in the wrong direction, losing 4 out of their last 5 and looking unimpressive in their one win in that stretch.  Moreover, other than what might look like an anomalous win against the Spurs, their last set of wins before that five game stretch? Victories against the Clippers, Kings, Grizzlies, Warriors, T-Wolves, Bucks, Wizards, and Thunder; while in that same time, having lost to the Knicks, Nuggets, Rockets, Bulls, and Hawks.  Not the championship-caliber resume we’ve come to expect from this team, but to be fair, they’ve played most of those games without Peja and Tyson, and several without Posey.  Which is the real team?  The one that we’ve seen on the floor, or the one in our mind’s eye?  We’ll find out starting April 18th.  But I know one thing, they can win tomorrow.

This is the End...Of the thing before the next thing...

A bittersweet season of ugly victories and Pyrrhic losses, where the rare times we’ve fielded all our starters we’re somewhere in the .667 win percentage, which would put us right behind the Lakers in the standing, but as things stand, we’re desperately clinging onto the sixth seed.  That said, we can still finish anywhere between fourth and eighth.  Significantly, we’ve beaten the Lakers, Spurs, Nuggets, Rockets, Cavs, Magic, Heat, and just about every other team that is expected to contend, other than the Celtics and Hawks.  We know the Hornets can beat the best, but can they do it in a best of seven series?  I think so.  But we need to be more consistent.

The bottom line is, as much heat as Byron is taking right now, I think it comes down to execution. Byron’s gameplan is set and if guys hit shots and rebound, this team can beat anyone.  I said before Friday’s game that I believed the Hornets could run the table to close the season.  I was wrong.  But I think this team will defend home court.  And here’s the stat that militates in their favor: Tyson is on the final game ticket face.  Here are the stats that no one else talks about: the Hornets’ home record, by ticket face star:

  • David West: .875 (7-1)
  • Tyson Chandler: .857 (6-1)
  • Chris Paul: .667 (6-3)
  • Byron Scott: .625 (5-3)
  • Peja Stojakovic: .375 (3-5)

Considering that David’s ticket face just lost its first game in two years, I wouldn’t want anyone else’s face on this ticket for the Dallas Mavericks game.  Think this is a “fictional” stat?  Not in pro sports, where players are notoriously superstitious.  Consider this, the worst record of any ticket face last year, and the only one with a losing record, Mo Pete (.400, 2-3), was also, coincidentally, on the Game 7 ticket versus San Antonio.  We all know how that turned out.  And Mo Pete is the only one to appear on last year’s tickets not to appear on this years.  I doubt that is a coincidence.

So, maybe, just maybe, this ticket somehow augurs some cosmic sense of causality, and even if it doesn’t decide the fate of our team per se, it might have a knowing read of the preordained outcome of the game and resultant the Western Conference standings.  Or not.  As you can see from the above, Tyson’s mere presence doesn’t guarantee a win, but it puts the odds in our favor.  Believe it.

Teal-Colored Linkage

By on March 4, 2009

Just some stuff traveling through a series of tubes.

“yo i hate broccoli. every 1 go 2 the grocery stores, buy up all the broccoli, and burn it. there will be no broccoli in phoenix 2 nite. yur man shaq”

“im at the busy intersection downtown. any twitterin drivers here? if there are, shut off yur ignition and calmly walk away from yur cars. it will cause hours of gridlock and bring the citys infrastructure to a halt. in accordance with my master plan. peace”

And on that note, I’m out trying to create mass hysteria via my Twitter feed…

Tired Pose smiley ’cause it’s too early to be up.

Three Against the World

By on February 20, 2009

So. How was your week?

You wish there was a moment to stop and take a breath, but it’s the Lakers up tonight, the Jazz tomorrow, Mardi Gras in full effect till Tuesday. On the other hand, I’ll argue that we learned things about this team in the whirlwind of the past three crazy days. And they are good things.

We watched as, instead of collapsing, the Hornets won two games in the wake of the Chandler trade.

Three... it's the magic numberWe learned who the leaders are. True, it wasn’t really surprising. But we saw David West speak up. (If there’s any word to describe D-West, outspoken is not it.) On a night when the Hornets organization seemed to be bombarding the fans and the press with cheerfully spun declarations about how they traded for two shorter guys to improve their rebounding, he was the one voice to say that the trade wasn’t a basketball decision, and he wasn’t happy with a move that would seriously handicap their playoff chances. I will always admire him for that. We saw Chris Paul tell the press, “Me and D-West talked about it before the game last night — if we go down, we’ve got to go down fighting.” And we were heartened by it.

We learned that the fans of New Orleans, despite comments to the contrary, are going to support this team, coming close to selling out the arena on a parade night with many fans bitter about what they saw as purely a cost-cutting move. And those fans were treated to a late Christmas present.

We learned that, when implemented wisely, the Hornets’  assortment of backup bigs can stand up to Dwight Howard. I don’t know what that says about other future games, but it’s not a bad thing.

We learned that, once every few months at least, John DeShazier and I will agree on something. I know, right?

We learned that we will follow Chris Paul wherever he leads us. And so will this team.

I’m not going to worry about the whole failing-the-physical thing right now, because there’s no point. Let’s focus on the short term. Tyson is the guy we have. And he says he’ll be back Monday or Wednesday. That’s enough for me.

What the Hornets got Wednesday night was one last chance to get it done with the guys on this roster.

They have to take it.

I have no clue how I feel right now. So really, I am just going to put a whole bunch of emotions on little pieces of paper into a hat. And then, you know, we can just go with whatever gets picked, and pretend that’s what I said.

  • Elated
  • Ecstatic
  • Hopeful
  • Worried
  • Confused
  • Uncertain
  • Optimistic
  • Regretful
  • Disbelieving
  • Nervous
  • WHOO!
  • WTF?

This Tyson situation is so bizarre I can’t even talk about the game. And it was a really, really good game. Man, it was good. Everything I expected out of today has been flipped upside-down. Hornets backup bigs get blasted by Dwight Howard? Nope. They blew the Magic out 117-85. Tyson Chandler being traded to OKC? Nope. I get home, turn on the highlights, and it’s Rick Kamla announcing that he’s back. ?? So instead I will give you four facts about the game that are probably random enough to reflect the weirdness of life as a Hornets fan at this particular hour on this particular day of this particular month of the year 2009.

  1. At halftime warmups, Dwight Howard randomly jumped on it and started dancing to Apache, which was playing on the arena PA. I seriously think he took about 2 shots the entire time he was out there. He was too busy just quietly dancing by himself. Sure, there were other people around. But none of his teammates were dancing, nor did they even seem to bat an eyelash that he was. Dwight Howard is a special soul. Hilarious.
  2. Hands down the best moment of the night: With 8 seconds left in the 4th quarter, Devin Brown jacks a long three that puts the crushing lead up to 32. You might say that’s bad sportsmanship. You might not have had to watch and cringe as your Christmas Day was embarrassingly ruined on national TV. I did, and I personally wouldn’t have cared if they ran the lead up to 40. Clearly the Hornets felt the same way. Anyway, right at this point someone in the crowd yells, “MERRY CHRISTMAS, MAGIC!” and I about died laughing.
  3. There was actually a sustained wave going in the Arena in the 3rd quarter. We were partying like it was 1989 in there.
  4. Tonight we learned that if James Posey takes his tall socks off on the bench, it is an undeniable sign that the game is over.

So the Hornets traded Tyson Chandler today.

That may seem like a lame way to begin this, but really, it’s something I had to do. ‘Cause every time someone says it or types it, I’m still getting this little jolt, like, “Wait, what? Tyson isn’t on our team?” I guarantee you that when I go back up the the top to proofread this post, I’ll think, “Wait, what? Tyson was traded?” despite having written about it for however many paragraphs. And it’s because of that jolt that I have to type it out.

mW said I should talk about the bullshit the Hornets organization has tried to put past us, the emails we’ve received from the official Hornets mailing list that claim this move was made to “add more size” (From 7-1 to 6-10 is more size now? I guess I should claim to be 5’9 then, while we’re at it, if that’s the way math works in this strange Hornets PR twilight zone) and “more rebounding” (so Tyson was having a down year– neither Smith nor Wilcox can equal his rebounds). Do I wish they would just be honest and say it was about cutting salary? Yes. Do I think sending out these B.S. emails and making Bob and Gil be falsely and gratingly cheerful on the broadcast is akin to treating fans like they think we’re stupid? Of course.

But you know, I’m not going to talk about that. Partly because I don’t have the energy. But mostly because there’s a guy out there who doesn’t deserve that junk mingled into a post that should rightly be about him.

I know many of you have either read the About section of this blog, or heard my story of how I became a basketball fan. Then you’ll have a little perspective on where I’m coming from. Because, man, I honestly can’t tell you when I last felt this betrayed by a team. I mean, this is probably going back to when Dominik Hasek screwed over the Buffalo Sabres in 2001, so we are talking eight years without major sports hurt for me. I think what stings the worst for me is we all imagined that CP-DWest-Tyson was the nucleus, the young guys you build around. Of the starting lineup, Peja seemed like the one who gets supplanted in a year or two for youth, perhaps by Julian Wright. And– this is the crux of the thing– if I thought that, if most of us thought that, what did Chris Paul think, when he signed that three year extension last summer?

Good luck, TC

Photo by Matt aka Storm Surge Photography

I don’t know.

I know I thought this was a guy who was gonna be with us a while. But I’m not going to talk about that. I’m going to talk about those early days, back in the beginning of last season when New Orleans Arena was sparsely dotted with 8,000 fans, back before no one believed. I didn’t really want to be there. mW bought the tickets for me, and I felt sort of like I was being dragged to games every other day. I had never thought much of the NBA. It wasn’t the stereotypes for me so much as that the game itself seemed trite. Growing up in hockey rinks, where a goal meant leaping-out-of-your-seat everything, how could I think much of a game where you could score 100 points and shrug them off as nothing? I thought it would bore me, and for about a month and a half, it did.

But then something subtly changed. I think it was shortly after mW bought a Peja Stojakovic jersey. He said I should get one too, and we could match. And logically, it made excellent sense, seeing as Peja and I share a similar former-Yugoslavian heritage. Except I told him I didn’t want one. Because I’d decided that Tyson Chandler was my favorite Hornet. Maybe it was the hops, maybe it was the aura of good-natured goofiness around him. Maybe it was the energy he brought to games. And who can forget his hilarious blog posts? And Jannero Pargo dubbing him the Ceiling Fan Repair Man?

I’m going to talk about my best Tyson moment. It was last year, in the game at Golden State. TC had 22 points and 22 rebounds, and the Hornets won 116 to 104, but the highlight was this one dunk. He caught the alley oop from CP, threw it down, and then turned to the crowd and absolutely growled and swaggered. He just had this monster crazy staredown for everyone around there. Man, we were out of our seats.

Which reminds me: we need to pause and have  a moment of silence for the Crescent City Connection. (For those of you not in the know, that was the infamous Chris Paul-to-Tyson Chandler alley oop combo, nicknamed after a local bridge.) You would have thought the roof was going to come off the building when TC caught one and threw it down… which he did, over 100 times last season, the most in the league. For a big guy, Tyson could run with the best of them, and he and CP just seemed to have an sixth sense for knowing where the other guy was on the floor.

He could fire up a crowd. He knew how to. He liked doing it.

You can tell me I should know it’s a business. And I do. I haven’t watched the NBA, but I’ve watched sports long enough to know that. Like AI said it was practice, it’s sure enough a business. Business, man. We talkin about business. Business. I know that. I do.

But in the end, he was my favorite guy on the team.

And I do not believe in this whole newfangled “liberated fandom” trend. I don’t. And don’t accuse me of not being deep. I majored in philosophy, OK? I get what Free Darko is saying, and I get the levels on which they’re saying it. But I’ve largely come to the conclusion that it’s not for me and will never will be. Because I don’t understand how you can go to each and every game and not get attached, and not form opinions of players– more than players, really, people— based on what you see. And not then take those opinions and merge them into some messy whole, tied together in your head, just those guys and you and a basketball court and a small glowing screen. And so, OK, maybe we’re lucky as Hornets fans, because we can have our likable lightning and chaos combined with our intense partisanship– after all, not everyone has a CP. We can have our flash and our alley oop and go home feeling like what we saw was somehow more than the money, than commercialism, than marketing. We can push down the guilt. Or we could. Until something like today happens, and it’s there, exposed, like how it would feel to momentarily glimpse the timbers that hold up your house and realize they’re rotted through. And then the floor stops being see-through, and another great play happens, and suddenly we’ll find ourselves distracted once more.

But the trend is objective, objective, objective. Feel free to enjoy the game as art, but actually caring about it is passe. Well, I care about it. And I’m not a journalist. I’m not a theorist. I’m a fan, and that’s the philosophy on which I started this blog. Let everyone else break down the facts. We’re going to react. And you know, what is wrong with that? What, are we living in an age where we’re too cool or too numb to feel? Or wait, even better, you’re going to tell me I feel more open to reacting to things because I’m a girl? Bullshit.

Basketball is something we watch. And if we watch enough, we start to feel a sense of ownership. “Our” team. “We” won tonight. And we start to project things onto it that may not be entirely realistic. So then it’s this massive startling jolt when something business-y gets done.

Like my favorite Hornet player getting traded today.

And you can say it was just the beginning for me as an NBA fan. You can say I’ll have other favorite players.

But he was the first.

And I guess, for that, I want to say thanks. Thank you for your strength. Thank you for your humor. Thank you for representing our city. Thank you for wearing New Orleans on your shirt, if only for a couple of years.

Good luck, big man. I hope you make your All Star game one day… ’cause I’ll miss you.

It doesn’t really grab offensive rebounds as well as Tyson did, but–

I give up. Fuck you, fuck you, and fuck you.

And the Saints just released Deuce McAllister today too. So while I’m at it, fuck you, Saints. Why wait, when you can combine forces with the Hornets to upset hundreds of thousands of people over the course of two hours?

See what I did there, Gil.

(By the way, for those of you watching on CST instead of the Blazers’ feed on League Pass, Gil was dropping the puns in rare form last night. After Travis Outlaw nearly airballed a free throw, he cracked, “That shot was a crime by Outlaw.” Ho ho ho! Gil, you slay me.)

But that’s not what we’re here to talk about. We’re here to recognize our boy Hilton, who was forced to play big minutes against Joel Przybilla and Greg Oden after Tyson Chandler was ejected in the third quarter. If you come here a lot, you know that we’re relentless believers in Hilton Armstrong. Sometimes we get made fun of. Sometimes we cringe. But sometimes the second biggest of the Hornets big men comes up strong. It’s usually when he has to– we haven’t lost a game this season that Hilton started, I believe.

The joke around these parts is that, at least once a night, Hilton receives his obligatory “because you’re Hilton Armstrong and the other guy is not, sorry” foul. Usually, as well as a couple other offensive fouls of a dubious variety. The other story is turnovers. The Hilton Armstrong turnover is sometimes impossible to spot in the wild. Like, all three Hornets blogs and various fans don’t recall seeing it happen, yet there it is in the boxscore. It’s like, “Oh, that hotel guy’s playing tonight. Spot him his turnover,” and they check the box.

Well, last night in Portland, Hilton Armstrong played probably the best quarter (game?) of his career, ending up with 12 points on 6-6 shooting, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block, and… wait… wait for it… 0 turnovers. He also took a key charge from Greg Oden that forced the Blazers to sit the old man. After being called for two consecutive fouls at the 6 minute mark of the 4th quarter, Hilton could have caved. Instead, he raced back down to the other end of the floor and appeared out of nowhere to put back a monster dunk of a James Posey missed three.

Oh, it has been brought. Whatever, NBA. I just dare you to suspend Tyson Chandler. Our boy’s gonna dominate.

Turning our attention to Tyson Chandler now, I want to first say that I’m really, really proud and pleased at the way the rest of the team handled his ejection. Another game where the officiating didn’t quite go their way (You’re telling me Przybilla doesn’t deserve at least a technical for hitting back? Someone got T’ed up for a butt slap the other night), and, when forced to work around personnel issues, they gutted it out. Can it be we’ve seen a subtle change?

Blazers fans will be saying Tyson’s a dirty player. They will be wrong. Apparently, three out of the four ejections Tyson’s had in his career have come in the Rose Garden. This is the second year in a row it’s been as a result of a scuffle with Przybilla. Dudes just don’t like each other. Here’s what went down:

See, here’s what I want to know: if Tyson’s the dirty one, how come this stuff never goes down in New Orleans? We don’t hear from Przybilla here. I’m not saying TC didn’t hit him– he did. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have been kicked out. But he’s not exactly a thug. It’s hard to be a thug when like 75% of your altercations are against one guy. Besides, if you read his blog or have seen him in interviews, you know that’s just not TC’s personality. We should just accept that they play scrappy against each other, that there’s probably more to it than what’s in the video, and shrug it off. (Except, by the way, don’t you love the way the Blazers TV team cut this? Most of the times they slo-mo it, you don’t get the part leading up to when Chandler throws the arm. Naturally.)

When asked whether he hit Przybilla’s broken wrist on purpose, Tyson replied: “I didn’t know he had a bad hand. No. Not at all. If he’s worried about that, he should keep it off people.” Oh, Tyson. You slay me too.

Byron Scott said 2-2 would be good on this road trip, 3-1 would be great. So this puts us halfway there…

It is all your holiday wishes come true. Believe me. They are wishes you didn’t know you had, but still.

I promise that now your life will be complete.

Merry Christmas and a Happy LakersGame Day!

The rhythm of Mo Pete, the dancing of TC and the lyrical stylings of Mr. Ryan Bowen