Fear and Loathing in Charlotte: My Bobcats Season Tickets
Several years ago I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, home of the NBA’s Bobcats. While my favorite team has always been the Indiana Pacers, living in the city quickly proved to be ideal because I could see most teams come through at a great price. After getting settled at the start of 2011, I anticipated catching an occasional game, but the season ended up being shortened by the NBA lockout. Eventually, basketball would commence and the Bobkitties achieved the status of being the worst team in NBA history (percentage-wise) with a record of 7-59. If I had to summarize that season in around 30 seconds it would look something like this:
Now up to this point I had never owned season tickets for pro basketball, and I didn’t see this changing anytime soon. But the Bobcats marketing department took a chance and created a deal that seemed too good to pass up: the “Pick the Pick” promo.
“Come see the Bobcats,” they said.
“It’ll be fun,” they said.
And just like a bad Internet meme, I became a first-time season ticket holder for the newly crowned “Worst Team in NBA History.” The team ended up drawing the second overall pick, so I paid about $190 total for a set of season tickets. If nothing else, I could resell them and make my money back.
(As a side note, work kept me from seeing Kobe and his Lakers come into town, so I sold my pair of balcony seats for $145.)
The first game of the season rolled around and it just so happened to be against my beloved Pacers. So my first game as a Bobcats season ticket holder was spent wearing the opponent’s jersey. I was just thrilled that the Pacers would start the season off on a good note. Except they didn’t, as ex-Bobcat D.J Augustin missed a potential game-winner in the corner.
For a short while I honestly believed that the normally underachieving Bobcats had bought into the system of new head coach Mike Dunlap. He essentially ran a college offense with a lot of presses and traps on defense. The team started the first 12 games with a record of 7-5. People in the city were once again talking about the Bobcats in a positive light and maybe even watching video of some of the games.
Apparently the other 29 teams were monitoring the situation as well. At this point the squad dropped a few games. Eighteen consecutive games to be exact, but who’s really counting?
The next big moment (for me at least) came when the Cleveland Cavaliers came to town, giving the Bobcats a chance to win their second game in a row. I was genuinely excited to see Kyrie Irving play in person.
Until four minutes into the second quarter.
With the Bobcats trailing by 16, Luke Walton moved beyond the arch and gracefully airballed a three-pointer. No big deal, right? We all miss the mark sometimes. So ex-Bobcat Shaun Livingston promptly rebounded the ball and located his teammate again. Walton then confidently airballed a second three-pointer on the same possession. With eight minutes left in the second quarter, I promptly gathered my belongings, left my seat, and found the nearest method of public transportation that would take me back to the safety of my house.
Later in the evening I discovered that the Cavs won off an Irving game-winner, but I have no regrets.
As the season progressed, I realized I needed to develop some sort of standard for leaving games early. I hesitated resorting to this, as I typically hate leaving games early. I still remember getting upset when my uncle escorted me out of a Pacers/Nets blowout at Market Square Arena in 1997. But Reggie Miller wasn’t stepping onto this court anytime soon.
And so the RUFUS RULES were created and laid out as follows:
- If the Pacers play the same night as the Bobcats, leave at halftime to go home and watch the Pacers.
- If the Bobcats are playing an NBA headliner (Heat, Knicks, etc.), disregard Rule #1.
- If the Bobcats fall behind by 20 points or more, quickly navigate to the nearest train and return to your place of residence (unless they are playing the Pacers…I DO NOT leave Pacers games early).
*Named after Rufus the mascot, who still looks horrifyingly similar to Guy Fieri.
Between my work schedule and the newly instituted RUFUS RULES, I saw considerably less Bobcats basketball in the second half of the season than I did in the first. Nonetheless…I soldiered on, and the team ended up finishing with a record of 21-61 (there was another ten game losing streak but I refuse to talk about it).
Overall, I would say my experience as a Bobcats season ticket holder was enjoyable. Between injuries and a depleted frontcourt, I knew the team would struggle, but at the end of the day, I love professional basketball. Oddly enough, I also ended up making money after selling a few key games from the season.
Toward the end of the year, there were even a couple of bright spots worth noting, as new addition Josh McRoberts provided some much needed energy and passing in the frontcourt, and a healthy Gerald Henderson emerged to be the scorer many fans thought he should be. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t make a bee line to the team store to buy a jersey, but it was refreshing to win some games at the end of the year, even if the opposing teams were tanking.
With that being said, I got a voicemail from my ticket rep several weeks ago, hoping I would renew, but this time at full price.
“Oh, by the way, I figure you’ve heard the good news, we’re changing our name to the Hornets the season after next. You can secure seats for the Hornets return by renewing for this coming year!”
Nice try Bobcats, don’t push your luck.
(Check back in the near future or subscribe to read about some of my other NBA ventures this season, including a trip to Miami and also the Playoffs)
(EDIT: Here is the link to some of my other NBA adventures from the regular season)