Sports

Hey, Bill Simmons: Stop Trashing My Team, Jerk

Nick Dorney
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Atlanta Hakws v Charlotte Bobcats

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I’ve had enough.

Bill Simmons is a knowledgeable basketball pundit (I’ll refrain from using the word “journalist”). You don’t get to where he is without knowing the game. You don’t get where he is without being entertaining. It’s ironic that Simmons remains one of the easiest targets for sports blogs and writers such as Drew Magary when a strong case could be made for the fact that Simmons helped pave the way for them. Simmons was one of the first to use the internet as a way to find an audience for his fan-perspective thoughts on sports (specifically his beloved Boston franchises), usually intertwined with references to The Shawshank Redemption or The Wire. To simplify it, Simmons found success by writing to dudes in a language that they could relate to. What 22-year-old really gives a damn what Gregg Easterbrook has to say?

Simmons’ star has risen considerably in recent years. His worth to ESPN is so great that the 40-billion-dollar enterprise funded the Sports Guy Brainchild known as Grantland, a separate entity from ESPN that focuses on sports and pop culture: a Bill Barnwell piece on the recent Broncos-Patriots OT thriller sits comfortably alongside a recap of the season four finale of Boardwalk Empire. It’s a Simmons mailbag in long-form with better writing.

Now that the pleasantries have been thrown out of the way, let’s get to the point: Simmons is an idiot when it comes to Charlotte sports.

You read that right. Bill Simmons has thrown not only the Bobcats, but the fans and the city of Charlotte under the bus repeatedly. Let’s take a look at a few of the things Simmons has had to say about the team:

1) The Charlotte Bobcats never should have happened. You know how I know this? Because Michael Jordan spent about 20 bucks in actual cash to buy them two years ago, that’s how.

2) Which NBA team would you NOT want to take over based on location, attendance, ownership, cap flexibility, can’t-miss commodities on the roster and spending ability?” debate, the final choice has to come down to Charlotte or Washington … and I’d have to go with the Bobcats.

3) Why is this team still in the league?

Simmons has treated this fan base and this franchise as an absolute joke ever since the Bobcats came into expansion. Yes, the Bobcats have been in the bottom 10 when it comes to attendance over the years. Let’s compare them to another franchise that their attendance is nearly identical to – the Indiana Pacers. The Bobcats have made the postseason once in nine seasons. They posted the all-time worst winning percentage in a lockout-shortened season in 2011 (.106, 7-59). The best player in team history is Gerald Wallace. The Pacers have one of the best young rosters in the league and went to the brink with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals last year.

Simmons usually reserves his barbs for Charlotte when the subject of an expansion team in Seattle comes up – Simmons has staunchly supported Seattle receiving another basketball team, stating that their fans were screwed out of their beloved SuperSonics. Gee, Bill, we sure can’t relate to that!

Some may argue that attendance isn’t guaranteed to increase simply because the team may change its name back to the Hornets next year. I do know this: Charlotteans identify a considerable amount more with the Hornets than the Bobcats. Take a stroll on UNC Charlotte’s campus any day of the week. Count the Hornets gear – hats, shirts, you name it. Try and find any pieces of Bobcats swag. I’ll give you one month’s salary if you tell me the Bobcats gear is more prevalent. Or call you a liar.

In the team’s heyday, the Hornets were the league leaders in attendance for seven consecutive seasons, and some of those seasons were horrendous! They had 364 consecutive sellouts before the city’s relationship with the owners soured. Time has eased a lot of the pain of mismanagement by former owners. all that’s left is a healthy bit of nostalgia for those great ’90s Hornets squads and the raucous crowds in The Hive.

A lot of fans would probably agree with Simmons regarding some of the points he’s made about Michael Jordan’s inability to be an effective owner. Jordan has a spotty career at best as owner of the Bobcats, but he has built up a healthy amount of goodwill by reintroducing the Hornets brand in the Charlotte market once again. Whether Jordan’s exit as owner of the team would help reinvigorate the fan base further is for another article (a long, fist-shaking article). Remember, before Jordan we had Bob Johnson, another owner who could not gel with the city. An interesting “what-if”: what would the Charlotte Bobcats have looked like if the ownership group that Larry Bird was a part of had purchased the team?

I understand that this article may show more than a little amount of sour grapes, but let’s face it: the Bobcats have been a tough team to get behind, but they’re all we have and the future is a little bit brighter with a slowly-improving roster and the Hornets returning. The last thing Charlotte needs is a guy like Bill Simmons to trash our city and our team when we’re down. But what do you expect from the guy whose favorite self-coined phrase is “God hates Cleveland”?

Oh, and sorry that we weren’t able to foster a big enough buzz yesterday for you Simmons. I guess that’s what happens when your opponent is a 5-10 team in rebuilding mode. Oh wait, that’s right!

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