There are some sports stories you love being a part of. When your really terrible basketball team upsets the #1 team and you get to rush the court, that’s something you cherish being a part of. When your football team finally knocks off their archenemy at home when that team is #3, that’s something you love being a part of. When your football team returns to their home stadium a year after natural disaster that effected everyone in the metro area, that’s something you will never ever forget. When your basketball team completely quits on a home game in the playoffs, and goes on to lose by the biggest margin in NBA playoff history, that’s something you are embarrassed to be a part of.
Before the Hornets game yesterday, I told people I wouldn’t mind them losing, because they’ve been banged up and just haven’t shown much effort in the playoffs. Plus, if they lose the series in 5, I wouldn’t be spending more than $100 on playoff tickets. I thought going into last night that the Hornets would stay close or lead for the first 3 quarters, then just run out of gas in the 4th. I had no idea the plan was to take a 2-0 lead then just give up. I got to the arena about 6:40 and had to wait in a ridiculous long line for the free beer in the season ticket area. Jacob was meeting me at the game but was coming later, so I left his ticket at will call. I finally got my beer, but the tap was running out, so I had more foam than normal. I walked into the arena and the program had David West on the cover. Combined with the foamy beer, I thought the DW cover was a bad sign. I ate my turkey sandwich and headed upstairs to my seat. I bought a $9 beer (Abita Amber at least) because I thought I’d rather not have the foamy beers be the last beer memory of the season. I went up to my seat and settled in for what I hoped would be a hard fought game.
After the 2-0 lead, everything fell apart. I haven’t been a fan of David West since I started going to games and watching him play. He plays lazy defense and jogs a lot. I think he may also be allergic to offensive rebounds. I saw him give up at least 10 points in the first half, but I’m sure there was a lot more. He wasn’t rotating over when people would drive to the basket and he would fuss at teammates when they gave up a basket. Hello pot, this is kettle! I had called my mom earlier in the night to tell her the game wasn’t on TV and offer an alternative, but she said she was planning on watching 24 and would see about catching the game after seeing the score. After the first quarter, the Hornets were down 21. I texted her this and her response was “Damn”. My mom doesn’t curse very often. Jacob got there sometime in the 2nd quarter and by the end of the 2nd quarter the score was 61-39.
I was texting with a friend about the game and how in the 3rd quarter they should just start jacking up 3s. Unfortunately, the Hornets chose to run their same offense with passing the ball to David West in the post and hoping he doesn’t turn it over. Bad plan. The defense was awful again, and the 3rd quarter resulted in the Hornets being down 38 points by the end of it. I had fun yelling “SHOOT IT!” when Chris Paul would cross half court. Why not? It wasn’t like anything else was working! Also at the end of the 3rd quarter the majority of the crowd started leaving. Jacob and I left with 9 minutes or so left in the game, so pretty early in the 4th. I usually stay until the end of a game no matter what, but I could not stomach a team giving up. On the way out walking past the Dome, I tore the front cover off my program and said “he’s supposed to be an All Star? What a bunch of garbage!” Then I threw it away.
On my way home I stopped at Walmart to pick up a few things, and almost was hoping no one would ask me if I went to the game. I was embarrassed to have paid money to see such a terrible display. I know some people want to blame the coach, but at some point, as a person you have to be motivated not to embarrass yourself, your family, your school, and your fans. If you hate the coach, don’t take it out on the fans. If you hate management, don’t take it out on the fans. The fans are paying their hard earned money to come watch you play, at least have the decency to give effort to show them you’re trying.
My favorite NBA writer on ESPN is John Hollinger, and he was the one that wrote the article about the game this morning for the daily NBA info page. I completely agree with him. It was the most sorry performance by a professional team I’ve ever seen. Losing by double digits is one thing, losing by FIFTY EIGHT at home in a playoff game is nothing less than shameful.