Sometime in the autumn of 2017 I had decided that I was finished with the Charlotte NBA franchise. It was not a rash decision. Decades of disastrous moves by both local ownership and the NBA league office had taken its toll. Like many of my generation of Gen X Queen City hoop-heads, I had been raised on the (relative) highs and (relative) lows of the late eighties and early nineties Hornets.
Teal and purple dominate the palette of my memories from that time. The story of Charlotte’s love affair with their first professional sports team has been written better and more definitively elsewhere so I won’t go into it here. Let’s just say that I was neatly at the center of this magical time.
But a fan can only take so much. A bad draft here, a poor coaching hire there. A down decade. All fanbases eventually go through these trials.
What the NBA and its partners have done to the region over the past third of a century is well beyond a trial. One relocation. Three turrible owners. Consistently tone-deaf messaging. Was it malicious? Doubtful. Negligent? Textbook. Exploitative? In practice, yes.
So I, like many other former fans have done silently over the years, simply walked out. I’d had enough.
In the ensuing two seasons following my fan retirement, I’d taken to using Twitter as an alternate persona: the “heel” Hornets fan – calling out the team’s clumsy spin, alerting future marks as to what con lay ahead of them. It was the most I could I make out of a wasted thirty years (eleven of them on social media).
In truth, I’d also come to miss the exchanges with many of the people I’d interacted with over the years. The team may have been perpetually horseshit but the fans were consistenly fun and often kind. And playing the heel in Charlotte’s traditionally “booster-ish” culture was a helluva lot of fun.
But that fun has come to an end as well. This season will prove to be the most depressing and challenging for whatever fanbase remains. As long as current ownership retains control, there will be no light at the end of the tunnel. Even this heel doesn’t have it in him to rain on the tiny parades in store for the 2019-2020 Hornets season.
So I’ve deactivated my account. When and if the team is sold, I might come back. But I might not. At middle age, I’ve discovered that time is indeed the most precious currency and there’re simply too many wondrous and rewarding outlets that interest me.
To my former and fellow QC hoops-heads: I wish you godspeed. May you find solace in small victories and I sincerely hope that your loyal fandom will one day be rewarded.
And if it isn’t, just know that you won’t be the first to walk out that door.
-Adam Chin (formerly @baselinebuzz)