With the NBA Finals concluding this week, it seemed now would be a good time to reflect on the successes of the Celtics, Lakers, and other premier teams to see what insight the Bobcats might gain into becoming a contender. As the Lakers and Celtics showed with their success this year, there is more than one way to reach the top. That is unless you mean the very top – in which case, only one way worked this year – but we will assume reaching the general vicinity of the top qualifies as success. So, what might the Bobcats learn from the elite of the NBA?
1. Insert former players as GM's around the league – This was Boston's “Big Ticket” to a championship – Kevin McHale's donation of Kevin Garnett to his old team. Under the guise of winning culture and whatever else it is that sells teams on hiring ex-players to management roles, the Celtics had an in with another team that aided them in the trade market. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, they have existed for such a brief time that most of their former players are still playing…though probably not in the NBA: Where have you gone Tamar Slay and Theron Smith? The Bobcats need you to infiltrate the Trailblazers.
2. Convince draftees to force a trade to the team/Have star player demand a trade if the team does not improve – Hey, it worked for Kobe. After “allegedly” (that keeps me safe from lawsuits, right?) forcing his way out of Charlotte, Kobe found himself in a great position with the Lakers. Until he (and Shaq) messed that up. Then he complained that the team was not good enough to win, so he wanted to leave. This forced the Lakers to invoke the Celtic Maneuver, calling upon Jerry West to facilitate the Gasol deal. It took the Lakers all the way to the top (where they were kicked off the peak by the Celtics). Application for the Bobcats? For some reason, players forcing a trade to the #2 banking center of the US seems unlikely. And the star player demanding a trade if the team does not improve? Well, that would require a star player.
3. Draft well – in particular, find hidden gems from across the Atlantic – This would be the Spurs philosophy, with their French point guard and Argentinean
soccer player shooting guard. The only obstacle to the Bobcats following the precedent of the Spurs? Well, they do not seem to scout much outside of NC. After drafting 3 former UNC players, in Sean May, Raymond Felton, and Brandan Wright; another player from the ACC in Jared Dudley (I guess they scouted him at the ACC tourney?); and two players who they probably just saw on tv a lot, Emeka Okafor and Adam Morrison, it would appear that there is not much of a travel budget for scouting in the Charlotte Bobcats organization.
4. Trade for a disgruntled star player that another team is giving away – Detroit + Rasheed = Championship…and several trips to the perimeter of the pinnacle. Looking around the league at players who fit the bill: Possibly Ron Artest. A year ago, Kobe would have been an option. Oh, and Rasheed seems to be available again. Though star does not really fit anymore for him. And Ron Artest is just plain crazy. Again, this method would not succeed for the Bobcats, mainly because if the best “disgruntled star players that another team is giving away” are Ron Artest and old Rasheed, then the talent is not there for the stealing. Come back, Isiah. Come back.
5. Have the best player in the league – Cleveland has LeBron – LeBron is so good (how good is he?) that he carried Ben Wallace, Wally World, Big Z, and others to the Conference Finals this year, after carrying a similar crew to the Finals last year. The problem? I just checked, and Cleveland said we could not have him. Not even if we gave them Julius Peppers, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and $100,000,000,000.
6. Have the best point guard in the league – That would be Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets. Who used to be the Charlotte Hornets. Obviously, this path is impossible for the Bobcats to take, because they would not exist if the Hornets were still in Charlotte. It would create the type of paradox that Doc Brown says would destroy the universe in Back to the Future.
7. Have the best center in the league – Now, that honor falls to Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic. And this could work for the Bobcats. If they could find a real life Doc Brown (see above) and use his time machine to convince Orlando to take Emeka instead of Dwight 4 years ago. I will get some of my engineer friends working on that one, pronto.
8. Find a good coach and stick with him – Jerry Sloan has guided Utah for 20 years now. They have made the playoffs in 17 of those 20 seasons. While there were other factors that have contributed to their success, finding a good coach and sticking with him has played a major role in the consistent excellency. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, their new coach is already 67 – and I do not foresee Larry Brown lasting 3 years in Charlotte, let alone 20. The Bobcats will have to wait until the next coach before they can hope this avenue might work for them.
8 of the best teams in the league – 8 different ways to their positions. And the best idea out of it for the Bobcats? Time to invest in serious R&D for time travel. Where is Cyberdyne when you need them?