Rick Bonnell, Keep the Change


The Bobcats Need New Ownership with Direction, Not “Hope”

Larry Brown the Saviour?  Don't Get Your Hopes Up

The Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell returned back from his forced two week sabatical a few days ago and posted one of his strangest blog entries that I’ve read to date.

After spinning the Okafor/Chandler deal and getting us caught up on the (less than imperative) Raymond Felton situation, he moves on to the “Team For Sale” issue and throws in this nugget:

The day Brown leaves is the day hope dies, and the Bobcats don’t have much hope to waste.

Rick.  Please.  This is just wrong.

  1. Organizations run from top down, not middle up.  The Bobcats will continue to be a “hopeless” franchise up until the day Bob Johnson sells the team to a qualified ownership group and not a second before.  And since ANY ownership group (outside of a Jordan-led outfit) would be more qualified than the current Smartest Guys In The Room, an upgrade is inevitable
  2. Successful organizations are not run on “hope.”  Yes, in professional sports many things can backfire during a season: injuries, suspensions, bad calls and off-the-court issues can undermine a good plan.  But you NEED A GOOD PLAN to begin with.  Teams like Dallas, Utah, the Lakers, Portland, San Antonio, Denver, Cleveland and Boston devise plans and execute them.  Before any given season begins, they put their teams in the best positions to win and reserve backup plans in case anything goes awry.  You certainly don’t see those organizations going into the season without a reliable backup power forward (for instance); crossing their collective fingers on bargain bin replacements mid-way through training camp.
  3. MOST IMPORTANTLY RICK, why in the heck would you carelessly hitch Charlotte Bobcats fans “hopes” to the whims of Captain Wanderlust himself?  Larry Brown might be gone by the start of training camp for all we know.  He’s famously unstable and has proven time and again that he would jump at the next best chance to win a championship (or a better paycheck).  He’s the Larry King of NBA coaches and you want us to believe that Coach Brown is all that we have to cling to?  That’s setting an entire fan base up for failure.

Rick, I politely disagree with you.  Hope is abundant for Charlotte NBA fans.  Everyday that passes is one less with Robert Johnson and that’s plenty hope enough.


12 thoughts on “Rick Bonnell, Keep the Change

  1. In my opinion, Bonnell's post was right on about the current state of the Bobcats.

    The "Hope" statement was perhaps given extra emphasis as it closed his post, but he wrote several other insights about the off season. Primarily, the Okafor– Chandler trade. Bonnell wrote that he sees it as a "wash", with the Bobcats getting a little of what Coach Brown wants (more athletic, taller center) and a little of what the organization needs (lowered financial commitment).

    Thus, his opinion was that if the Cats can first keep Brown engaged and invested, he'll build a team that could assist the organization in selling the club for a better value. A winning club with a good deal more fans would be more coveted than the continually flailing franchise that's cycles through head coaches (like Memphis). I think the "hope" is about the club becoming a viable investment for another owner, not simply "hope" of a winning season.

    In regards to the blueprint system that San Antonio, Utah, and the Lakers seem to have in place, I totally agree. Essentially, I think that the Bobcats are expecting Larry Brown to serve as the director of their overall system rather than simply trying to win some games. Players have said that the Pistons still run a lot of Brown's sets and their defensive rotations are still based on his style. With "hope" we'll see the day that Rod Higgins is replaced by the next Joe Dumars.

  2. dudemanhey

    I agree with Mike15 on his last point.

    I think there is a plan in Charlotte. In my opinion it seems to be a pretty good one. Build the roster out of long, athletic and versatile international type players that play multiple positions hard nosed defense. Additonally, that plan does hinge on Larry Brown staying the head coach for at least another two seasons.


    I sincerely hope that your fears about LB's early exit are unfounded. Yes, Brown jumped ship in NY, but that ship was sinking long before he got there and his real mistake there was not leaving, but ever going in the first place. The situation he came into in Charlotte was much different than the one in NY. NY is an established franchise with a demanding, enthusiastic (& very large)fanbase that expected Brown to come in and win a championship. (not to mention anything of the Isaiah hijinx involved) The Bobcats are essentially a new franchise with the time to implement a (plan) system and give it time to develop successfully. However, it seems that many fans don't have enough patience and want immediate results: something mostly unachievable in the NBA.

    In a way, i'm in agreement with Bonnell, the best thing the franchise has had going for it in its brief history is Larry Brown. And most of the hopes of the Cats developing into a successful organization are pinned on LB at this point. Let's hope he's not run out of Charlotte before his plan has time to potentially be successful!

  3. Guys-

    Thanks for the comments.

    Think about it for a second. Do fans of the teams that I mentioned above "hope" for success or "expect" it?

    The least that we can do is "expect" success when we drop (at minimum) $100 at a game, don't ya think?

    Would any of those teams go into the season without a backup PF or bona fide scorer? You guys are serious homers (and I mean that as a compliment). My point is is that the Bobcats "plan" changes pretty much every three months. It went from bringing in expensive veterans to cutting cost in a little under half a season (for example).

    Qualified ownership will build a successful long term business strategy that will increase ticket sales, local awareness, merchandise sales, national exposure and, most importantly, on-court success.

    It's coming guys, just wait for it.

  4. dudemanhey

    1) 100 dollars a game? That depends on how much beer you choose to drink i guess. Tickets start at what? $5??

    2)you say:

    "Qualified ownership will build a successful long term business strategy that will increase ticket sales, local awareness, merchandise sales, national exposure and, most importantly, on-court success."

    i would say that since the All-star break of last season ticket sales, local awareness, national exposure, and on court success all increased. Disagree? But my take would be the formers all increased relative to the latter. The 'cats started winning some games and folks started paying attention. So if the winning continues, then so should all of the above continue to increase. Plus, the new uniforms might be a push to increase merchandise sales as well

    Bob Johnson might be incompetent as an owner/manager, but i 'm not sure how any Bobcats fan could question the bringing in of Larry Brown. He has radically redone the roster to suit his style of play, and i actually do "expect" the Cats to win more games this season than last season.

    3) all of the teams you mentioned above are long founded and established NBA franchises, not the newest member of the NBA the 5 year old Bobcats. Additionally, all of those teams (maybe not LA) have had their own dark days of lottery abyss, where making the playoffs was not a realistic thought. It takes time to build a solid franchise, and i am not convinced the bobcats are not on their way to doing that with Brown at the coaching helm, b/c obviously his influence is at least one driving factor in the personnel decisions being made. The roster has dramatically changed and i would argue for the better.

    3) if i am a homer then what are you? a hater?

    There are plenty of things that i could complain about regarding bobcats roster decisions and draft picks. (AmMo over Roy anybody?) However, this year's off season moves seem much more deliberate and less knee jerk than in the past. I expect the Bobcats to have a breakout season due to the "plan" that LB has set into motion. It just takes some time to completely overhaul a team's roster, put a winning team on the court, & not break the bank doing it. So have some patience and try not to second guess the HOF coach so hastily.

    To quote you, "It's coming (Adam), just wait for it."

  5. dudemanhey-

    Whoa… I appreciate the passion! But you're better off saving it for the games. Go back and read our archives, I'm overwhelmingly pro-Larry Brown. Again, my point is is that the organization needs leadership from the top to sustain any improvements that it makes both on and off the court.

    When did Dallas get out of lottery hell? When Cuban bought the team.

    Same for Cleveland with Dan Gilbert (and a local guy named Lebron). Portland, Boston and Denver all got better when ownership brought in solid GMs. The Lakers, Spurs and Jazz have missed only a handful of playoffs amongst them in 20+ years. Look at the old Hornets. If Shinn didn't luck into Bob Bass then he probably would've skipped town even earlier.

    The temporary relief that Coach Brown brings (and trust me, it is temporary) is secondary to the type of sustained success that a competent organization would produce.

    The nominal gains in tickets sales and fan awareness are only significant because you're gauging them from one of the least popular franchises in pro sports (better to compare them to the extremely popular OKC Thunder if anyone else). And for most people, $100 is about right. Two mid-level tickets, parking, concessions and gas. If you are taking a family, even more.

    Thanks to everyone for your continued readership and support!

    -ASChin aka "Adam"

  6. Make that $130 if you stop at Mert's for some killer fried chicken and the dessert-worthy cornbread to cap off the night…

    I agree with Adam. Our hope is probably best invested in the sale of the team to a stable ownership group with the money and smarts to rebuild the front office with quality people.

    I'm not bashing Brown or the decision to hire him — it was the best we could do at that point. Brown needed a redemption project and we needed someone to make sense of the roster. I think Brown can and will leave some positive impact on the franchise.

    But for Bonnell to say that hope dies when Brown leaves is melodramatic and defeatist. Brown will leave (I would bet on next offseason), but hope will only die if Bob Johnson is still the lame-duck owner when that happens.

  7. dudemanhey

    Does putting a winning team on the court (at a reasonable cost) not greatly increase the chances of finding a buyer?

    I stated that Johnson was an incompetent owner, however i am in agreement with Bonnell to an extent. The hopes (or expectations or whatever) of the Cats becoming a winning, and ultimately profitable, franchise, are resting on LB. His name (& MJ's despite whatever managerial flaws he brings) are the biggest free agent draws to Charlotte right now. And a great deal of the hopes of the team competing for a playoff spot next season rest on LB as well.

    For the Bobcats to become a playoff/championship type team in the long run, it is imperative that Brown have some success in the short term.

  8. dudemanhey

    And if you count gas to get there, tickets and concessions for the entire family then you could easily spend $100 at the movies too. So just how much can you and other movie-goers "expect" on your investment at the theatre?

    I'm just not sure what can be "expected" of a 5 year old franchise? The Lakers, Spurs and Jazz may be great franchises yes, but they certainly are not 5 years old either. I might add that the Bobcats swept LA last season and went .500 against LA, SA & Utah combined.

  9. I expect the people that I'm rooting for to win at the end of the movie. And guess what? They almost always do.

    Now as for the Bobcats… 35 out of 82 ain't bad, especially if you like Indie Downer Flicks. Is Michael Jordan the Vincent Gallo of NBA GMs???

  10. Disclosure

    I think Bonnell was right on except for his projection that the Bobcats would not make the playoffs. The Bobcats finished 16 games ahead of the Wizards with a lineup that evolved over the season. The return of Arenas does not change this. Toronto was close in the standings, but they haven’t done anything that would alter their finish. Chicago, Detroit, Miami, and Philly are ready to fall. These teams have made adjustments, but are no better than last year.

    ASChin, you missed the mark. Brown has a plan, has the support of management, the team, and the fans.

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