Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Recap: a Glorious Season Comes to an End

I would first like to apologize for my absence. I had to impose an ESPN ban on myself for the past week in order to effectively get over the end of the season. But now I'm outside the tunnel and feeling good… I can now enjoy sports again without ripping the nearest pillow to shreds. So... recap, anyone?

The Man and his Mentor.

To help me sum up the fantastic ride that was the Hornets' season, permit me to call on the golden-age rapper Whodini's "Magic Wand".

Hey y'all, we'll be back again
So tell all your friends
Good things don't always come to an end

This is, in so many words, a great encapsulation of the last six months. I could wax philosophic for paragraphs on end about how awesome this season has been, but I've opted for something that should be more fun and completely expose me for the compulsively organized individual I am. For your enjoyment, I've decided to recap the season High Fidelity style. I will now blast some mad tunes while I channel John Cusack's character. Let's get started.


Top 5 Games of the season:

1. Dec 1, 2007 [New Orleans 112 | Dallas 108]:
Peja hits a trey at the buzzer to send the game to OT. Hornets take care of business, outscoring Dallas by 4 in the extra quarter.

2. Jan 28, 2008 [New Orleans 117 | Denver 93]:
On their way to a dominating route of the Melo-less Nuggets, the Bees hold Marcus Camby to something like 5% of his normal nightly contributions and make AI do all the work. More importantly, this was the first game in which we heard the "MVP" chants fill the arena. Goosebumps all around.

3. Feb 20, 2008 [New Orleans 104 | Dallas 93]
Dallas comes to town for their first game after completing a blockbuster deal in which Cuban mortgaged the Maverick's future for the likes of Jason Kidd. While it was no surprise that this new mix of players couldn't take a game on our court, no one could have predicted Chris Paul's unbelievable performance (see number 3 in the next list). By the way, Jason Kidd's agility owes CP's agility like thirty grand.

4. Mar 12, 2008 [New Orleans 100 | San Antonio 75]
After failing pretty miserably against this team in NOLA earlier in the season, the Hornets bounce back and route the reigning champs. An entire quarter of booing (after some poor officiating) led to an 8 point effort in the fourth from the Spurs, allowing the Hornets to bounce back from a 7 point deficit. It was an even bigger victory for us when include the amount of attention and head-turning it prompted from the media.

5. Mar 22, 2008 [New Orleans 113 | Boston 106]
If the heads hadn't been turned by this time, all eyes would soon be on the Hornets after the Celtics came to town. After shutting down the Spurs and Lakers at home, the Hornets' played host to this year's media darling. After a shaky start, the New Orleans came back to win in a scintillating fourth quarter as they outscored the Celtics 32 to 17.

Top 5 Individual performances by players named Chris Paul:

1. Jan 28, 2008 [New Orleans 117 | Denver 93]
23 points, 17 assists, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block

2. Feb 6, 2008 [New Orleans 132 | Phoenix 130]
42 points on 55% shooting, 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 8 steals, and 1 turnover in 50 minutes of play. Damn, son.

3. Feb 20, 2008 [New Orleans 104 | Dallas 93]
31 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds, 9 steals, and 1 turnover

4. Apr 22, 2008 [New Orleans 127 | Dallas 103
32 points, 17 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals (Dallas series, game 2)

5. Apr 29, 2008 [New Orleans 99 | Dallas 94]
24 points, 15 assists, 11 rebounds, 2 steals, 0 turnovers (Dallas series, Game 4)

Top 5 Individual performances by players not named Chris Paul:

1. Nov 6, 2008 [New Orleans 118 | Los Angeles Lakers 104]
Peja: 36 points, 10-13 beyond the arc, 5 rebounds, 1 block

2. Jan 4, 2008 [New Orleans 116 | Golden State 104]
Tyson: 22 points, 22 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block

3. Mar 5, 2008 [New Orleans 116 | Atlanta 101]
JuJu: 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists.

Jump on it, JuJu. Jump on it.

This game is less important for the numbers, but rather it marked our first of many "Holy crap! Julian Wright is going to be awesome!" moments. My buddy Nat had this revelation the other day: "Julian Wright is really good. He could be as good as Ron Artest… you know, minus the crazy". Additionally, he had two highlight dunks and danced like a fiend to The Sugarhill Gang's "Apache". Read about it or watch the highlights.

4. Mar 25, 2008 [New Orleans 114 | Indiana 106]
D.West: 35 points, 16 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks, 3 steals

5. May 13, 2008 [New Orleans 101 | San Antonio 79]
D.West: 38 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 blocks, 2 steals (San Antonio series, Game 5). A god among men.

Top 5 Moments of the playoffs:

1. What's playoff experience?
Every single analyst in the country had the Hornets either losing to the Mavs or pulling off a close win in a game seven. This seeming lack of faith was justified at the Hornets' lack of playoff experience. That statement remained true for roughly 24 minutes, or the first half of Game 1 against Dallas. After that, the Hornets exploded and never looked back, taking the series in 5 games. CP averaged 25 points, 12 assists, and 1 turnover during that stretch.

Where playoff experience is optional happens.

2. West owns Dirk's pride.
After taking an elbow from the reigning MVP, D.West gets in the big German's face, tells him he "only gets to do that once", and then taps his cheek. Dirk's response? Fear.

3. Where the savior destroys hope happens.
Game 4 versus Dallas. The Mavs are about to lose on their own turf and go down 3-1 in the series. Out of bitter frustration, the man who was sent in to save them all, commits a tasteless, flagrant foul. When Jason Kidd, pulled Pargo down by the neck on a fast break late in the game, the Dallas season was effectively over. Read more in this entry.

4. Stop the Flop.
Dirk had been flopping all throughout the series (so much so that Nat suggested that "maybe falling is just part of his shooting motion"). After 5 games, the Hornets' fans had had enough. During a Dirk and-one, a fan's sign prompted the entire arena to chant "Stop the flop!" at the top of their lungs during every single Dallas free-throw until the end of the game.

5. Love, even in a loss.
In the final minutes of Game 7 against the Spurs, after Pargo missed an open trey that would have tied the game, Chris gathered his sixth foul on the other end of the court and promptly went to the bench. As fans, we recognized that moment as the end of our season, despite the ninety some-odd seconds remaining on the clock. As Chris reached the bench, the entire arena stood up and cheered louder than I've ever heard them. Instead of being bitter, there was a feeling of love and gratitude flowing through the building. It was a hell of a way to thank the guys while simultaneously drawing attention away from the Spurs' victory.

Top 5 Ways to make myself feel better after getting booted from the playoffs:

1. We took the defending champs to game seven.
I don't care that we were the two seed: the defending champs are always the defending champs (unless they're from Miami). Let's face it, the Spurs ARE a freaking dynasty. They've won 4 of the last 9 championships, and their big 3 have played in over 100 playoff games together. That's more than an entire season of just playoffs. This team is incredible and we took them to seven games.

2. We won the Southwest Division.
We won our first divisional championship this season, outperforming what is easily the hardest and deepest division in the league — and that's including the likes of Memphis. Though (as we found out) the regular season means nothing in the playoffs, it's still nice to finally have a divisional championship under our belt (and a banner hanging from our rafters).

Where earning respect happens.

3. The nucleus is returning.
Here's a list of the young talent that is returning next year: Chris Paul (23), David West (27), Tyson Chandler (25), Jannero Pargo (28), Julian Wright (21), Hilton Armstrong (23), and whoever the hell we draft next month. Peja is the oldest of the crew, but he only recently cracked 30 on the odometer (he'll be 31 on June 9th).

4. We have Jeff Bower.
In hindsight, that trade with the rockets was not the greatest move ever. Though Bonzi performed really well during the regular season, he all but disappeared in the playoffs (that was partly Byron's fault, but we'll save that for another day). Plus, I'm not even sure that Mike "Shoes" James even traveled with the team after the regular season ended. Regardless, Bower is a genius of GM in league so full of ineptness. Though drafting Paul was a no-brainer, Bower built this team from the ground up after Baron Davis' oscar-worthy portrayal of Vince Carter destroyed the franchise back in 2004.

5. Home Court Advantage for ALL of next season.
I will concede, despite many posts arguing to the contrary, that we had embarrassingly low attendance until mid-January. Home court advantage was really hard to come by (especially considering that when people did show up, it was often to see the other team's superstar). However, the Hornets still won 56 games. Imagine how many more they could win if the fans showed up for an entire season. Now that we have our own superstar, we won't have to wait too long to find out.

Top 5 Songs to listen to while writing a blog entry about basketball:

1. "Harder, Faster Stronger" by Daft Punk

2. "Basketball" by Kurtis Blow

3. "Inside Game" by Royal Trux

4. "Rock Box" by Run D.M.C.

5. "Rebel Without a Pause" by Public Enemy


All in all, who could have asked for a better season? Ok, maybe the whiny Boston fan-base, but I sure couldn't have. For a small market team, nothing could have beaten the credibility and exposure we were able to [slowly] amass over the past six months. I mean, how many people get to say, "Hey, I got to watch [insert name of athlete who becomes god-like and joins pantheon of icons in his sport] transcend to greatness. Yeah, I had season tickets. Yeah, I was there before anyone thought to look…" how awesome is that?

This year was the beginning of something great, not the end. The old powerhouses in the West are slowly succumbing to age. Their time has past. A new era is being ushered in. An era in which the likes of young guns are out to make a name for themselves. The wild, wild west is about to get a bit wilder. And look for the Hornets to be wielding a young point guard hungry for victory.


Thanks for sticking it out with us all season. Just so you know, we'll be continuing to post during the off-season, so be sure to check back periodically. I expect Curry to post a season recap in the near future, but also be looking for a draft preview as well as the Hometown Hornets' official draft day live blog, in which Curry and I will go head-to-head predicting picks while consuming alcohol... admit it, you're excited. Of course, we may not make it to the second round. Stay tuned!


(Quick thank you to All of the images from this post (minus Kurtis Blow) can be found in their online photo gallery along with hundreds of others from the entire season.)

1 comment:

MikeC said...

I will be moderating the drunken draft, so I will make sure you make it through all the rounds.