There comes a point in every person’s life where they must decide who to pledge their allegiance to in the sports world. After going on a few dates with other NBA teams (it’s a long story and I don’t talk about my exes), in June I committed to the Charlotte Hornets. They live in a nice neighborhood, they have fun player personalities, and their fashion sense is untouchable. Truly, it was a match made in heaven.
Before I committed, I heard things such as, “They aren’t good for you,” “prepare yourself for heartbreak,” and “they have no idea what they are doing.” Unfortunately for them, I like crazy. Plus, my college basketball relationship with the University of North Carolina –14 year strong– had already prepared me for heartbreak; cc: Kris Jenkins.
Our relationship started out hot by selecting (err.. trading for) Miles Bridges in the NBA draft. Bridges has not disappointed early on despite seeing inconsistent minutes. His athleticism has translated extremely well into the NBA where he will participate in this year’s dunk contest during All-Star Weekend in Charlotte. He’s finding a rhythm on offense and his defensive efforts have turned him into a player who sees a ton of crunch time minutes early on his career.
Shortly after the draft came Las Vegas’ Summer League. Unfortunately, this may have set my expectations for our relationship a bit too high. I was mesmerized by this team’s young core lineup of Devonte Graham, Malik Monk, Dwayne Bacon, Bridges and Willy Hernangomez. Let me tell you, they did not disappoint. They played with energy, pace, and flow. The summer league squad finished with a 3-2 record with one of their losses being a 3 point overtime defeat against the Toronto Raptors. Needless to say, the entire Vegas trip had me excited to see this team in the regular season.
Fast forward to the regular season and ultimately where we are today, sitting at 27-29 and hold the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. As an avid NBA fan, I knew Kemba Walker was good, but I didn’t think he was this good. Walker lights up the scoreboard like a candle-lit dinner, his signature step back is the quirk your significant other has that you just can’t get enough of. The way he slow dances on defenders is magical, the tough finishes around the rim are surprise gifts that you weren’t expecting, leaving you to just shake your head in “oh he’s done it again” fashion.
Nic Batum is the in-law that you don’t particularly prefer, but they do something nice to gain your respect every once in a while. Jeremy Lamb is your significant other’s sibling who is just as dope as your partner is. Tony Parker is the mediator mutual friend who talks with both parties about their views and outlooks on the relationship. Cody Zeller and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are your significant other’s friends who can peacefully hang with you two in a group setting. And Frank Kaminsky is the salty ex who repeatedly tries to work his way back into your significant other’s life. Back off, slugger. (Jokes aside, I don’t have a true opinion on Frank yet. But this was too easy to pass up).
Record-wise, the relationship could be better. There are fights that should have easily been avoided, and there are nearly equal as many times of happiness (#ThanosTeam). While we don’t always like it, we find ways to power through and gear up for the following game. Road trips are hard (9-16 on the road), we don’t like being away from each other, but it’s something that we will have to work on going forward. Sometimes other, better relationships make us feel like we’re messing up (7-20 against teams above .500), but we are not other relationships so we try not to give them our attention.
However we are still a top eight relationship all things considered. I know we are going to be scrutinized by other people in the coming months, and especially during this offseason. All we can do is tune them out, continue to grow together as a couple, and let the draft picks fall as they may.
Mike Kyle II