Bobcats Win 105-100, Survive Pistons’ Comeback Effort

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AP photo

After nearly blowing a 22-point lead, the Bobcats held on to narrowly defeat the Detroit Pistons in Paul Silas’ first game as interim head coach of the Bobcats.

AP Recap | Box Score

First off, I’m tired. I worked during the game tonight, which included being on my feet for about five hours. I recorded the game on Tivo and watched it when I got home. Due to my exhaustion, I’m forgoing my usual game recap format for just writing tidbits in bullets.

  • As Coach Silas said earlier in the week, this team ran and they did it pretty well. The free-flowing offensive style especially seemed to help the guards.
  • D.J. Augustin looked like a completely different D.J. Augustin tonight, scoring 27 points with 4 assists and zero turnovers. He shot 4-6 from behind the arc and just looked like he had been unrestrained. His confidence level seemed to be off the charts as he shot 66.67% from the field.
  • Shaun Livingston benefited from the change as well, as he put up a ridiculous stat line in limited minutes: 7 rebounds, 4 points, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal and zero turnovers. But if D.J. plays as well as he did tonight, I think we can all accept Livingston playing in such a limited capacity.
  • DeSagana Diop played unusually well, blocking 3 shots, pulling down 4 rebounds and somehow scoring 4 points (!).
  • Boris Diaw had an underrated night. Though I’d like to see him be a little more aggressive and take some more shots, he was efficient on offense by making 3 of 5 shots from the field, dishing out 6 assists and grabbing 5 rebounds. I really liked the energy I saw out of him tonight. He was chasing rebounds  with a desire we rarely see and he didn’t have to handle the ball much, resulting in fewer turnovers than usual (three).
  • Stephen Jackson was both excellent and awful and nearly recorded a triple-double with 23 points on 17 field goal attempts, 9 rebounds and 9 turnovers. Jackson excelled most often when he wasn’t trying to create a shot in the post. Coincidentally, being given the ball in the post is often where Jackson’s turnover’s originate. Opponents double-team him and force him into making bad decisions. Jackson also had some problems when he thought teammates would be somewhere where they weren’t. I think mistakes like that will disappear as the team gets better acclimated with Silas’ offense.
  • Tyrus Thomas, though mistake-prone, saved the game for the Bobcats when the game came down to the line. Yes, I am completely aware he bricked those two free throws that would have iced the game but before that he dominated on both sides of the court. Up by one, Augustin drove to the basket only to get blocked near the rim. Seemingly out of nowhere, Tyrus flew in and slammed the put-back jam to put the Bobcats up three. Then on the defensive end, Tyrus erased a Will Bynum layup. And yet, Tyrus is still having major problems with control. He cannot be a major ball-handler as he can easily get too wild with the ball, often resulting in offensive fouls or turnovers. Tonight he had 6 turnovers. Not good.
  • The Bobcats allowed the Pistons to come back through ineffective stagnant offense and a lack of rebounding in the later parts of the game. Period. There’s not much more i can say except to describe the offensive possession that sums it all up. Ahead by three points, Augustin let the shot clock wind down in an effort to kill time. Tayshaun Prince was guarding him after a defensive switch. And instead of trying to take Prince, D.J. passed the ball off to Boris Diaw at the 3-point line, leaving Boris a second to get off a shot, which was inevitably a brick.
  • Charlie Villanueva. He went off tonight. I don’t think there was much of anything we could do to stop him. His release was so quick and his range so wide that he is a tough defensive assignment. Once again, he hit a buzzer beater to end a quarter of play.
  • Re: Henderson, Carroll and Derrick Brown – Henderson wasn’t great, especially offensively, but he did help hold Ben Gordon to 17 points on 16 attempts. That said, he had some good looks on offense but just couldn’t make them. I don’t think he misses those shots too often again. Matt Carroll played well tonight also. He really has improved defensively over the past few years. His work ethic has always been there and it shows. However, he just isn’t a guy who should be getting more than 20 minutes in a game. Still, Matt’s my dude. Derrick Brown continues to be Derrick Brown. He’s calling for alley-oops. He’s dunking on everyone. He’s just fun to watch.
  • Perhaps the best thing about tonight’s game is the energy it brought back into the arena. The past few games I’ve attended and seen broadcast look like the crowd is just disinterested. In the second quarter tonight, the place sounded alive. We put the game on at our restaurant and people watched that quarter in awe.

Here’s to Paul Silas and his future with the Bobcats!

- Cardboard Gerald

The LBs Were Just Too Much – a Reflection on Larry Brown’s Work in Charlotte

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"I wonder if I can get a coach's discount on beer during this game." (AP Photo)

Being able to admit when you’re wrong is a difficult thing to do, especially when your genes conspire to make you stubborn, like mine do. I was a complete proponent of Larry Brown the past couple years – and that’s putting it very lightly. In retrospect, I think I put a twist on many of the Bobcats’ moves to give Larry Brown the benefit of the doubt. And now, I’m reaping what I sowed. The team is floundering with a future that will take franchise-altering moves to improve. Luckily, the Bobcats took a Roald Dahl BFG-sized step in the right direction by coming to a mutual decision with Larry Brown for the high profile coach to step down from his position (read: canned). I had been calling for this for a few weeks and now that it’s here, I’m left with some very mixed feelings that in the end make me feel like a complete fool.

The Bobcats had been stewing in mediocrity for years before Larry Brown but it seemed they were building each year until Sam Vincent pooped the bed. While outclassed in talent on nearly a nightly basis, the team consistently put forth their best effort while a city conceitedly ignored them.

It would take a huge splash to divert attention from Charlotte’s darling NFL franchise, the Panthers.

Then the Bobcats’ Managing Member of Basketball Operations and minority owner, Michael Jordan, would use his Carolina connections to make such a Louie Anderson-sized cannonball by signing the only coach to win an NBA Championship and an NCAA Championship, Larry Brown.

Without a doubt, it was the best hiring in the Bobcats’ short history. And many wondered how he would change this team that was not built for his style of basketball. It didn’t take long as the Bobcats drafted D.J. Augustin (at the behest of Brown) and traded a future first round pick for the draft pick that would become Alexis Ajinca. Then they traded Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley and the Bobcats’ second round pick in 2010 for Boris Diaw, Raja Bell and Sean Singletary. While I maintain that that trade is essentially a push, considering J. Rich’s defensive liabilities, the following trade relinquishing Matt Carroll and Ryan Hollins for DeSagana Diop was an utter mistake, inadequately trying to fill a glaring need at the center with a bloated contract. They also rid themselves of Adam Morrison via a trade with the Lakers that gave up the mustachioed marauder and Shannon Brown for Vladimir Radmanovic.

And yet, Larry Brown pushed that 2008-2009 Bobcats team to a playoff push that would ultimately come up short, playing (and losing) six of their final eight games on the road due to Bob Johnson’s equestrian garbage (no offense equestrian readers!). The team was playing “The Right Way,” which consisted of strong defense and an offensive strategy of forgoing mid to long range jump shots in favor of slashing to rim for higher percentage shots and getting to the line for free throws.

Going into the next season, the Bobcats were looking to build on their near-miss off the playoffs from the previous season. They drafted Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown and then traded the Bobcats first-ever draft pick, Emeka Okafor to New Orleans for Tyson Chandler.

Entering the 2009-2010 season, the Bobcats stumbled out of the gate like a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson kids movie on opening weekend. Raja Bell suffered what would ultimately be a season-ending injury and the Bobcats were 3-7 with wins over a terrible Knicks team, the god-awful Nets and (somehow) the Hawks. Seeing a need for change, the Bobcats decided to trade Vladimir Radmanovic and Raja Bell for Stephen Jackson and Acie Law IV. The move would pay off in dividends as Stephen Jackson would help lead the Bobcats to their first playoff appearance. With Larry Brown’s defensive mind, he would also help form a dangerous defensive backcourt with Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton as the three would all finish in the top fifteen in steals that season. And before the trade deadline, the Bobcats completed two trades: 1) Acie Law IV, Flip Murray and a future first round pick for Tyrus Thomas; and 2) a future conditional second round pick for Theo Ratliff.

During that season especially, I was essentially a Larry Brown sycophant. As a small Jewish kid who loves basketball and particularly is fervent about the defensive side of the game, I was big on Larry Brown. He had helped make my favorite Bobcat an all-star and he had brought the Bobcats to the forefront of Charlotte’s mind after a disappointing Panthers season. He didn’t dance around questions or mince words like Panthers coach John Fox. Some of Charlotte’s skyscraper’s lit up orange at night for the playoffs. It seemed he was making Charlotte basketball-crazy once again, for which I have been waiting for years. I even made the below sign, choosing to ignore that I knew at least one of these players would be gone the following season.

OUR TOWN OUR TEAM

I think I'm most proud of the Boris Diaw in this poster. I really captured his essence.

But I was ignorant. And when I wasn’t ignorant, I was shrugging off the obviously horrible decisions.

Let’s discuss where the LB era went wrong.

Drafting D.J. Augustin – Don’t get me wrong, drafting Augustin wasn’t the problem, although drafting Brook Lopez would have been a much better decision. The problem is that Larry Brown made this draft pick and then in the years that followed, eroded the point guard’s confidence by holding Augustin back in his sophomore slump season.

Trading for the Pick and Then Drafting Alexis Ajinca – If you’re trying to win now and get to the playoffs ASAP, why would you trade for a pick to be used on Alexis Ajinca, a project if there ever was one? The guy was unheard of and raw. DeAndre Jordan would have been a much better pick. And we gave up a future first round pick for him. What became of Alexis Ajinca? We traded him for zilch. To sum up this move, the Bobcats traded the #16 overall pick in the 2010 draft for nothing in return. EVERYONE, FACEPALM NOW.

Trading For DeSagana Diop – This was just bad all around. The Bobcats sinned first by re-signing Matt Carroll in 2007 to a mind-boggling 6 year, $27 million deal. Then they remembered they had a huge defensive problem in the frontcourt so they decided to take on more salary by trading Carroll and Ryan Hollins for the Big Diopper. But don’t worry everyone, we got Matt Carroll back later, basically free of charge!

Trading Okafor – This trade could be a push but we got essentially nothing in return for Okafor. He was and still is one of the best defensive centers in the NBA, though a smidge undersized. The Bobcats traded him for Tyson Chandler. This wouldn’t have been bad if Chandler could have stayed healthy. However, he couldn’t and struggled with problems throughout the season, usually coming off the bench and often contributing more fouls than rebounds.

Refusing to Develop Young Talent – I hoped Larry Brown would change. I knew that he had the reputation of not playing his young players, but in his first year, he gave D.J. Augustin a good amount of playing time. Maybe he would abandon that trait while coaching the Bobcats? Alas, it was to no avail. The following year, Brown played Augustin sparingly and didn’t play Henderson much at all, opting for the world-beater, Stephen Graham. But even that was somewhat understandable – Graham had some defensive fire and played the Larry Brown slasher offense, although he was mistake-prone and had a very low ceiling. Mild frustration became mild anger for me the next year when developing rim-rocker Derrick Brown was not given much of any time off the bench, choosing to play little-known forward Dominic McGuire much more minutes. This move was not anticipated by anyone (outside of Larry Brown). A slightly above-average rebounder and defender with an anemic offense, McGuire was scraping his ceiling in the present while Derrick Brown was stuck on the bench. For those who don’t know, Derrick Brown is a high-flying forward that can get to the rim at will with some decent defense and a mediocre jump shot. It is important to note that while Derrick may never be an all-star, he has the potential to be a starter in the NBA within a few years – IF he is given time on the court to develop his game against the rest of the NBA.

So, combined with Larry Brown handicapping the Bobcats future by refusing to give the young players playing time to develop their game and eroding their confidence, Larry Brown’s coaching/GM style put the ball & chain on the organization by making cost-increasing moves that kills cap space and by trading away first round picks.

That said, he brought the Bobcats their first playoffs, which I’ll remember forever. Larry, thanks for the good times and hopefully in the future, I’ll forget the bad times. But I don’t count on that being any time soon.

- Cardboard Gerald

Cardboard Gerald and the Tale of the Jordan XI Cool Greys

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Oh, and Meeting the Real Gerald…

Whoa, I'm totally seeing double

Like many, many of you, I eagerly awaited the release of the Retro Jordan XI “Cool Grey.” I read about the release on various sneaker websites months ago and when I first saw the icy blue sole, I knew that I had to have the shoe. The only problem was going to be where to find it. When I read that the Bobcats Team Store at Time Warner Cable Arena would be getting them, I knew that would be my spot, especially since Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson and D.J. Augustin would be attending. But I was still worried about the line that would inevitably form.

When the Bobcats announced via Facebook and Twitter that they would be handing out tickets at the Raptors home game that would allow for primary selection over those without, I saw my opening – but then it closed very quickly. I remembered I was still in Chapel Hill and it was finals week so there was no way I was getting a ticket. I shrugged it off and kept thinking about other options.

After the Wizards game, the Bobcats once again announced over their social media outlets that they would be giving out the tickets to those who wanted them once more in the team store during the home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. I was going to the game with a friend so we both picked up tickets.

Fast forward a couple days.

With my Social Media Ticket, I was set to go to the arena on the morning of December 23. My friend, Kendall, thought he had a better chance at the Carolina Place Mall Champs store. To make a long story short, he got up around 3 and was left empty-handed along with everyone else. So he met up with me around 8:30 a.m., we grabbed the tickets, Cardboard Gerald, a couple folding chairs and a few bags. Then we high-tailed it to the arena, not knowing what to expect.

When we arrived around 9 a.m., I saw about 40 people lined up by the first door at the 5th Street entrance. I got nervous as I didn’t expect such a line so early. We figured that there was no way that they all had the Social Media Tickets, and upon further inspection, there was a second – and more importantly, empty – line for those with our tickets. There was also a line for Season Ticket Holders that got their own tickets.

The deal with the different lines was this: the first 50 Season Ticket Holders with their ticket to the release were guaranteed a pair of the Jordans; the first 15 of the Social Media Ticket holders were also guaranteed a pair (not necessarily in your size, if they ran out of said size before getting to you); and the rest were just on a first come-first serve basis.

Audible groans arose from the crowded line as we set up our chairs at the front of the middle line and bypassed the whole crowd. All that was left was to wait until noon – and then 2 p.m.

While waiting in temperatures that I can only put as “giving-my-toes-frostbite cold,” we struck up conversations with other people. As we got chummy with everyone, more and more people arrived, stretching the line even farther and even the other two lines starting filling out. The picture below was taken from my spot at noon before entering the building.

A little after noon, we packed up our stuff and filed into the building in an orderly fashion. At that point, we unpacked once more and began another two hour waiting period.

To kill time, conversation with neighboring sneaker-hunters turned to the NBA. I must have surprised a lot of folks, being a short, white kid who was more or less giving lessons on the salary cap and the luxury tax. Then, the discussion eventually digressed and we crossed into the topic everyone has to yell about: Jordan vs. Kobe vs. LeBron. Instantly, everyone tried to talk at once to get their opinion heard, which of course resulted in no one’s opinion being heard. But things quieted down as the conversation wore thin.

Before we knew it, 2 p.m. had arrived. Security personnel and arena employees began handing out wristbands, writing down each person’s desired shoe size on them. Five people at a time were allowed to get their pair of shoes and then proceed from the makeshift shoe inventory dealer to the registers at the team store. A feeling of uneasiness began to fill much of the anxious people in the crowd as word got out that there were only 100 pairs, when there were many more people than that in the arena. Luckily, there were less than 50 Season Ticket Holders and then it was our turn.

Our sizes were still available so we grabbed them and paid. Truth be told, they’re absolutely beautiful shoes. I have never owned a pair of the XIs, but they are spectacular in person. The quality is on point and the sole really sets off the colorway.

After paying for the shoes, I headed back upstairs where the Bobcats players sat at a large table to sign autographs. The line of Bobcats players consisted of Stephen Jackson, then Gerald Wallace and last but not least, D.J. Augustin (or should I say, B.J. Augustin, eh, Tom Sorenson?). I made adequate small talk with Jackson as he signed Cardboard Gerald and then proceeded to the real Gerald Wallace. He signed his cardboard doppelganger and obliged to have his photo taken with Cardboard Gerald. I topped the whole experience off by discussing Jordans with D.J. before leaving. I was on Cloud Nine.

But unfortunately, many others were not. They had waited in the cold for the same shoes like I had but had no Air Jordans to show for it. However, everyone did get complimentary tickets for their choice of one of the next three home games, which is a fine consolation gift, especially for Bobcats fans that don’t have season tickets.

Congrats to those who got their Cool Greys, and to those who, sadly, did not, I wish you the best of luck finding those in the future.

- Cardboard Gerald

Bobcats Embarrassed By Wizards, Larry Brown Admits Fault

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AP Photo/Nick Was

Recap | Box Score

The Washington Wizards absolutely crushed our Bobcats Monday night, winning 108-75. The Cats were just outclassed all around, especially our starting five. The most surprising thing? We were only down by five at the half. The second half was Wizards 58, Bobcats 30. WE LOST BY 33 TO THE WIZARDS WITHOUT JOHN WALL. Now, everyone please follow these instructions: 1) Hold out your palm 2) Bring your palm up with velocity 3) Palm your forehead.

Seriously. Perhaps the best descriptive word here is “eviscerated.” If you combine the scores of the first and third quarters, which are played by mostly the starters, the score is 63-36. Let’s see, what else before I go into the Yays and Nays? Oh yeah! Nazr Mohammed, who may be the most level-headed player on the team, was ejected after getting a pair of technical fouls when he was called for a questionable offensive foul. What else, hm… How about our TWENTY-NINE TURNOVERS. That’s the most turnovers in a game since November of 2006. Let’s give our team a hand!

Ugh.

Yays

  • Bench – Don’t get too excited by this. They weren’t superb; they were just much better than the starters. I was also just extremely pleased our young players got extended playing time – I was just ashamed it had to come as a result of this game. Tyrus Thomas was excellent by usual, scoring 10 points on 5-7 shooting and 4 rebounds. Kwame Brown embraced a crowd that lived to boo him and got to the line often, somehow making eight of eleven free throws and adding a bucket for good measure to total his points at ten with 5 rebounds. Derrick Brown played well to boot, adding 9 points on 3-4 FGs and 3-4 FTs with 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 rebound. Gerald Henderson looked like he was still shaking off some rust in his 15 minutes on the court. Even DeSagana played moderately well with two points, two rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block.
  • Nope. Nothing else.

Nays

  • Our starters – They were awful. Dominic McGuire followed up his 17 rebound performance from the last game with zero points, 6 rebounds and one block, though I do credit him with controlling his itchy trigger finger by taking only two shots. Nazr Mohammed played fine but only tallied 10 minutes before getting tossed. D.J. Augustin struggled (more on that in a second). Stephen Jackson showed no heart in dropping 13 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists. Oh and he had 6 turnovers. Jax now has the fourth most turnovers for shooting guards. Boris Diaw was merely adequate with 9 points on 4-11 shooting and a free throw. He added 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 turnovers.
  • D.J. Augustin – If this wasn’t a setback in the D.J. Augustin for future Bobcats starting PG, I don’t know what was. On offense, he passed lazily and had tons of trouble with his shot. He made one shot in the fourth quarter and didn’t make another until 2:56 left in the 4th quarter. He added unnecessary fouls in transition defense to help the Wizards get the and-one. And to add insult to injury, Kirk Hinrich destroyed D.J.’s defense. Augustin had trouble fighting through screens and just generally staying with Hinrich. Livingston did a much better job on Hinrich, forcing Kirk to foul and retreat to the bench. Liv’s defense also added through the usual factors: disrupting passing lanes and helping defend jump shots.
  • Turnovers – 29. The Wizards scored 32 points off of those turnovers. Conversely, the Wizards had 14 turnovers, off which we scored 16 points.
  • Fast break – The Bobcats had 6 fast break points to the Wizards’ 26.

Before this game, I was thinking about buying tickets to the Thunder game tonight. I no longer want to do so. It’s not that I can’t stand to watch a blowout. I’ve sat through huge drubbings, including a 35-point loss to the Pacers in the 08-09 season. The problem I have with this team is that I’m not seeing any heart from our starters. I’m seeing it from the bench players, but when the coach can’t or won’t recognize that there are guys on the bench that are more talented and with more heart than the guys who get the start, it’s more often than not a moot point.

Yes, the Bobcats were missing Gerald Wallace, but I don’t see that making that big of an impact. Even if Gerald had started, the defense was a team failing and Dominic McGuire’s playing time would have just preempted Derrick Brown’s or Tyrus Thomas’ minutes who were some of our most productive players in this game.

Also, if you have a sports-centric masochistic streak like I do, you stuck around through the whole game and then stayed to watch the Larry Brown post-game presser.  In case you missed it, I transcribed it:

LB: The worst part? You know, we’re just not a team. We’re not well-coached. We don’t play hard. You know, that’s my responsibility. And I feel bad, you know, to put a team out there like that and to look that way. That’s totally my responsibility.

Reporter: How do you explain that third quarter and – [cut off by LB]

LB: The first half, the first quarter – the first quarter was the game. They scored like, what, the first ten times down the court? That was the game. Then we started the second half with the same group. You know the bench got us back in the game. So we were down 5 – it was a miracle down 5 at halftime – and then same again. And that’s a coach’s responsibility. To look like that, I feel bad for the young kids cuz it looked totally disorganized. You know, Flip’s team executed, shared the ball, played hard. That’s what teams are supposed to do, not the way we do. And that’s totally on me. It looked like it was the first day of practice and maybe it was a pickup team playing against an NBA team.

It’s a nice gesture, I guess. It felt sincere. But we have known that for weeks. As Dr. E noted on Twitter, “What kind of loss or losing streak will it take for Bobcats front office to realize that the team has quit on Larry Brown?” That sums it up perfectly.

I’m just waiting for better days. It won’t be soon, unfortunately. I just hope to not lose sleep over this. After all, I have no control over the Bobcats’ personnel decisions.

Cardboard Gerald

Follow me (@CardboardGerald), ASChin (@BobcatsBaseline) and Dr. E (@BaselineDrE) on Twitter!

Remembering Bobby Phills

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Today, the Bobcats are playing the Washington Wizards. Odds are this game won’t be remembered for years afterward. However, December 20 marks a day that some may remember.

Today is Bobby Phills’ birthday.

He would have been 41.

Image via the Bobby Phills Facebook Page


I shouldn’t get so emotional over this. I was too young to remember his games as a Charlotte Hornet. But I do remember when he died. I remember reading the newspapers. I remember the black jersey patch with his number 13. And what I can’t remember, I’ve rediscovered through the magic of YouTube.

I encourage you to do the same. You can watch highlights from game 4 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Semifinals and see how Phills refused to roll over against Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. You can watch his career highlights. You can even find the Hornets’ farewell video that included the tear-jerking moment of Phills’ son raising his father’s jersey to the rafters at the Charlotte Coliseum.

So, I’d just like for everyone to take this moment to remember this man who had an indomitable spirit and worked more than most professional athletes to reach the level he was at before his tragic death.

Graduating from Southern University with a 3.2 grade-point average, Phills was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1991 but was cut before even playing a game. He signed with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the Continental Basketball Association and proceeded to average 23 points, 6.5 rebounds and a little under 2 steals per game. After that, he signed a deal to play 5 years for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Phills continued his NBA career by signing a seven-year, $33 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets. In his 9 seasons in the NBA, he went from playing 4.5 minutes per game to playing 36.6.

And regardless of what you think about the circumstances of his death; regardless of his dangerous driving, remember that nearly everyone has a vice. Remember that Rob Woolard, who survived the automobile accident with Phills, has forgiven him. Remember that Bobby Phills was just as much a husband, a father, and a philanthropist as much as a professional athlete.

He and his wife, Kendall, had two children: Bobby Ray III (Trey) and Kerstie. Phills was also an active part of the Charlotte community, volunteering for children’s charities and other organizations. He started the “Bobby Phills Educational Foundation” and in 1998, he was a finalist for the NBA Sportsmanship Award.

Two weeks before the accident, Phills said in an interview, “I’m very secure with myself. I have a great family. I was raised by a great family. I have the American dream.”

And during this holiday season, I urge you to forget for the Bobcats’ struggles just for a little while and cherish the moments you spend with your loved ones. I think that’s what Bobby would have wanted.

- Cardboard Gerald

Dominic McGuire and Derrick Brown

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One of the most frustrating things about Coach Larry Brown’s decisions lately is his substitutions. It seems two young players are competing for the same minutes: Dominic McGuire and Derrick Brown. Arguments can be made for either side, but before I tell you who I prefer (though if you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know), we’ll look at each player’s weaknesses and then their strong points. Let’s begin.

Weaknesses

Dominic McGuire – He can’t score. That’s not the worst thing ever except that it seems he doesn’t know it. He doesn’t meet many shots he doesn’t like, which is troublesome considering he somehow hasn’t learned he has no jumpshot. As many have noted, his shot looks pretty — going up — but rarely does it land. In fact, according to HoopData.com, McGuire hasn’t made a single shot from outside of 10 feet from the rim, despite taking 44% of his shots from beyond 10 feet. If someone could just drill it into his noggin that he should avoid jump shots unless the shot clock is winding down, he could be much more efficient and this argument wouldn’t be so necessary. Dominic’s scoring offense should just be limited to easy looks in the paint, layups, etc, ie. high percentage short shots.

Derrick Brown - Underdeveloped, marginal jump shot. I was going to put “mistake-prone” instead of “underdeveloped,” but then I thought better. If you give this kid some more time throughout the season, expect his errors to fall. What types of errors? The silly ones, like rebounding with only one hand instead of two, etc. Larry Brown is supposed to be all about teaching, right? Experiencing something in the field can be the best teaching. That’s why people do internships, right? To dip their toes in the water? Let the kid dip his toes in the pool so he can get more and more acclimated to the NBA game. It’s called developing a young talent. Maybe Larry could try that sometime with the young’uns? Well, let’s move on. Ah yes, Derrick’s jump shot. It’s not bad or anything. He just doesn’t take many mid-range shots. And yet, he take more three point shots than mid-range shots. Why is this? Well, I think when Derrick is left open at the arc, he’ll take the open three, but when he’s left alone inside that line, he’ll drive to the hoop. But we’ll get to that stuff a little later.

Strengths

Dominic McGuire – Rebounding. McGuire is one of those bench players that brings energy on every play. On offense, this energy results in being trigger-happy, but one area that his energy does help is in rebounding. Rebounding is not a glamorous factor of the game. There aren’t AND 1 mixtapes of big guys with colorful nicknames cleaning the glass. Energy and tenacity can go a long way to grabbing boards and getting your team extra possessions – just look at Gerald Wallace. However, the benefits of these extra possessions are nullified when McGuire turns the ball over through his poor shooting.

Derrick Brown - Getting to the rim and upside. As I was saying earlier, Derrick Brown enjoys taking the ball straight to the hoop. I get the feeling he takes pride in dunking on grown men. He gets to the cup and and gets there with fervor. And while Derrick Brown might be OK at other parts of his game, I can see him developing and become a starter on a good team at some point in his career.

This isn’t to say that these are these guys’ only strengths. They may just need to be developed.

Decision:

While McGuire may be a marginally better rebounder, Brown does nearly everything else better or at the same level. And where he doesn’t excel, he can improve through learning by playing more minutes. While the two players we’ve discussed are similar in talent level right now, Brown has great upside, whereas McGuire may be near his ceiling.

The Effect of Benching Brown: Not playing Derrick Brown could cause problems in the future development of Brown for the Bobcats. Obviously benching Brown hurts Brown’s future by refusing to let him develop his game against NBA players. It shows that Larry has a lack of confidence in Derrick Brown. In fact, against the Celtics, the following players got put in the game before Brown: Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw, D.J. Augustin, Nazr Mohammed, Kwame Brown, Shaun Livingston, Dominic McGuire, Matt Carroll, and EDUARDO NAJERA. How you can get a good vibe from your coach when he puts in Mexican Don Draper before you?

What do you think, dear readers?

- Cardboard Gerald

(All stats via hoopdata.com: McGuire/Brown)

Don’t forget to follow Dr. EASChin, and Cardboard Gerald on Twitter

The Air Jordan XI Comes to Bobcats Store

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Wallace and Augustin to Sign Autographs; Win a Pair of Michael Jordan Autographed Shoes!

I don’t want to seem like a braggart, but I totally saw this coming. Back in October, the Sports Business Journal reported that the Bobcats Team Store would be expanding to a more Jordan Brand centric style. It was a dynamite move and I knew that this was preparing for a release of the ‘Cool Grey’ Jordan XIs.

But let me back up so I can get you up to date.

Releases of sneakers usually leak out months or even nearly a year ahead of time through the internet from some guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows Tinker Hatfield’s gardener. The exact date of a shoe release is mostly speculated or likely to change even up until a few weeks before they’re set to drop.  Word of the release for these leaked January 28 of this year on the popular sneaker discussion site, NikeTalk.com. I knew that the Bobcats were going to drop the ‘Cool Grey’ XIs mostly just because I thought, “They have to.” It’s too big of a sneaker release to not drop at the home of his NBA team. It just had to work out. And it did.

I understand that many of you may not understand the deal with sneaker obsession. It’s somewhat an underground culture, but I’m not going to delve into the culture of sneaker-dom here. However, know this: this Jordan shoe is THE sneaker of the year. I’m not trying to create hype where there shouldn’t be, it’s just a fact. It’s a fantastic looking shoe. This model has arguably the best design of any shoe, of all time. And this colorway is one of the best.

Usually the Air Jordan XI has the “Icy” clear sole. The main complaint is that the “Icy” sole yellows over time, due to oxidation. However, this year, Jordan Brand decided to used a blue tint on the yellow sole, which should impede yellowing at the least — oh! And it looks nice with the gray patent leather and white midsole.

This sneaker’s “holy” status pushes me back to remind you of the sneaker culture. Sneakerheads, as some like to be called, can be more than a little protective of their favorite shoes. If you’ve seen “Do the Right Thing,” you know what I mean. In fact, most sneaker enthusiasts won’t wear these ‘Cool Greys’ ever, much less play basketball in them, preferring to keep them “deadstock” (unworn, new in the box). Some, like me, like to wear their sneakers, even if it means risking their value and getting them a little dirty. Regardless, this shoe release will be HUGE.

How huge? Well, last year, the Air Jordan XI ‘Space Jam’ released nationwide. The ‘Space Jam’ XI is the “Holy Grail” for many, and brought droves of people. Desperate to ensure that they have a pair, people formed lines, beginning the night before. I’d expect a similar, maybe marginally smaller, experience this year.

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Pictured: Space Jam launch line in Serramonte, which is basically San Francisco. via JayJunkie from NikeTalk

Normally I’d probably have my friend, who is probably one of Charlotte’s top 3 sneaker collectors, reserve a pair for me through his connect at his local shoe store. However, that store isn’t getting my size (8) so I’ll be one of those guys camping out.

Which brings me to the Bobcats.

The Bobcats Team Store will be releasing the Air Jordan ‘Cool Grey XIs on December 23 (national release date). According to an email the Bobcats sent out, the line for the shoes will begin at noon (yeah, right. See y’all at midnight. I’m getting them come Hell or highwater).

And to make it even better (or to make it worth going, if you’re not a sneaker fan), Gerald Wallace and D.J. Augustin will be making an appearance to sign autographs from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Also, the Bobcats are currently running THE BEST PROMOTION EVER. So, remember those shoes I was talking about? The ones that people will be lining up all over town to get? The Bobcats are giving a pair of those away – and they’re autographed by Michael Jordan. My instinct tells me to be selfish and not share because the more people who enter, the less chance I have to win. But, I can’t deny our readers this opportunity. HERE IT IS. I JUST HYPERLINKED THAT SENTENCE WITH THE LINK, AND THIS ONE TOO – AND HERE’S THE ACTUAL LINK, BECAUSE YOU CAN’T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY: http://www.facebook.com/bobcats?v=app_10442206389

So, good luck everybody! I hope one of us wins the coveted shoes! (But mostly me)

Love,

Cardboard Gerald, Senior Baseline Footwear Correspondent