“Dear Michael Jordan, What You Don’t Understand” by Scotty Kent
Dear Mr. Jordan,
What you don’t understand
I have been putting off this for a long time. I was afraid that I would not be able to capture the emotion and sincerity behind my choice to spend countless hours working towards bringing the Hornets name back to the city in which it belongs. I ran through the many memories in my head of waiting for my father to pick me up from “after school” in elementary school, eagerly anticipating the moment our car would pull into the parking lot of the Coliseum. I thought about the many nights I spent lying awake in bed listening to the games on the radio because I was not permitted to watch TV during the school week. Through all this, the same feeling kept coming into my head – this was normal. I knew the Hornets’ players names by heart, I owned several jerseys, I had all of their cards, I followed all the games, and I wanted to be just like them. As a middle school teacher, it disappoints me to see my students identifying with superstars they will never get the opportunity to watch (except when that team comes to Charlotte). Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, and Blake Griffin are not from Charlotte and they never will be. When I was growing up, I admired Michael Jordan, I liked Jason Kidd and Gary Payton, but I loved Glen Rice, Baron Davis, and Anthony Mason….they represented my city and they did it well. When I shot a ball of paper into a trash can I did not shout “Kobe”, I shouted “Curry!” Never in a million years could I picture a kid today saying “DJ” before he launched his balled-up notes across the classroom. This feeling is more than nostalgia, it represents a time when I did not have to TRY to like my team, they made me like them. They gave me no choice. There was a passion, there was a buzz, and there was a fire lit in Charlotte that only one man had the power to put out – George Shinn.
I was in 8th grade when the Hornets left. I watched the last game in the living room of my parents’ house and I was in shock at the end of the video montage showing the Hornets history. I can count on one hand the number of times I have cried since elementary school – an argument with my parents, the death of my grandfather, my wedding last summer, and at the end of the video they played after the Hornets last game. As soon as it was over, I ran up to my parents’ room, opened the door and said “their gone”. I have yet to watch that video again and I refuse to do so until the day their name returns to Charlotte.
I will now fast-forward 8 years to the current state of the NBA in Charlotte. There is only one word I can think of to describe the way the city of Charlotte feels about the Bobcats and that word is…apathetic. This city, no matter how hard they try to sugar coat it, flat out does not care at all about the Bobcats. Why? Is it the name? Was it the previous owner? Is it the marketing? Is it the team? All these factors play a role and we would likely have the opportunity to fix much of that within a year or so if we change the name back to the Hornets. You can make the argument that even if you change the name, they team is still awful. While this is true, at least the city in which they play will know they are awful. Charlotte can’t be apathetic about the Hornets. The Bobcats are dismissed by Charlotte; there has been no “positive” time for Bobcats fans to turn to in the past 8 years. One horrendous playoff appearance against the Magic does not establish a fanbase. The moment the Hornets return, the city can immediately look back and say that the Hornets went to the playoffs seven of their fourteen seasons in Charlotte. As someone who attends Bobcats games and who attended Hornets games, I will not go into detail here about the difference in the atmosphere or take the time to explain how much the paid “fake fans” infuriate those who attend. The games are an awful imitation of what the Bobcats marketing department feels an NBA game in Charlotte should be like. You cannot fabricate passion and this fact is evident both in the stands and on the court. You cannot hire people to run around on stilts, drums strapped to the front of their shirts yelling Bobcats, with spray painted orange hair and expect a fan, to be too stupid to realize the how staged it is. You didn’t have to pay people to scream at the Hive when Baron Davis dunked on Kevin Garnett, but you do have to have to pay people to ignore when Blake Griffin puts his groin in Kemba Walker’s face as he reenacts NBA jam against my hometown’s team (Griffin got a standing ovation at the Bobcats game in mid-February).
Mr. Jordan, – this is where you come in. I feel like you owe this much to my city and my generation. I bought Space Jam, I bought your jersey, I bought your shoes, I bought your documentary, I watched your games, and I still defend you when they compare you to Kobe or Lebron. You came into my city, bought my team, gave me hope then sat back and watched the Bobcats disgrace my city with Charlotte adorning the front of their jerseys. I asked for none of that, but I am asking you for this:
Can you please Bring Back the Buzz?