With Expectations Come Vitriol

With Ron in a hazy Mardi Gras-induced delirium, I volunteered to do the recap for the Utah Game.  However, I'm not really a masochist, and the memory of that game is about as welcome as a scorching hot case of 'rhoids.  I'll hit a few points from the game at the end of this post, but first I'm going to address something else that's been on my mind.

The past three losses have been ugly.  It therefore makes sense that there be some negative reaction in the comments thread or on the boards.  I felt more than a little pissed while watching those games myself.  But man, after last night's Utah game, you guys really let loose, making it seem like Tyson and West make Eddie Curry and Zach Randolph look like Bird and McHale.  And what's even more silly, I was agreeing with some of the more explosive responses to that game when I read them last night.

So I smacked myself a few times,(no, I'm really not a masochist) and took a few deep breaths.  I mean, I'm normally a pretty calm dude, so I wanted to figure out what my problem was.  In the end, it's pretty clear I allowed my expectations to get a little too high during that 9-game winning streak.  Sure, the guys looked damn good, winning by 20 a game, and even stomping on some good teams.  More than once I thought how nice it would be if this team kept it up and went all the way.

So before we get all too crazy, I think I'll produce a big ol' dose of perspective.

Three seasons ago, we were 8-36 after January.  We were so bad that this year's Miami and Minnesota have better records than we did.  On January 1st, we had only managed 2 wins and were on pace for record-setting futility. 

We're at 32-15 today.  Our team is still the third seed in the West, and is tied for fourth with Dallas for the least number of losses in the league.

What we're witnessing is that rarest of things:  A team that was completely blown up and had all its veterans shipped out for prospects and cap relief, yet managed to turn it around quickly and return to relevance.  I pored over basketballreference.com(damnit, I'm NOT a masochist) for other examples of teams that completely nuked their rosters, and managed to come up with nine over the last twenty years.  Of those nine, two had success, one had qualified success, and the other six bombed.  Here they are, and remember, these are teams that intentionally took their team to pieces to start over.

Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks sported a winning record in '99-'00, fielding a decent team led by Steve Smith, Dikembe Mutombo, and Mookie Blaylock.  The next year, Mookie and Steve were gone, to be followed by Dikembe the following summer.  The Hawks are just now recovering, despite being deep in the lottery for seven straight years.

Chicago Bulls – They won it all in '97-'98.  They blew it all up before '98-'99, ridding themselves of annoying championship pieces like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippin, Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson.  They then spent the next six years without a winning record, had two years of qualified success, and are now back on their way to the bottom.  Ouch.

Dallas Mavericks – The Mavericks were solid way back in '89-'90.  Over the next two years they had Roy Tarpley fall apart, and let players like Adrian Dantley, Rolando Blackman and Derek Harper leave. They didn't return to a winning record for ten years.  At one point, they even had Kidd, Mashburn, Finley and Jim Jackson and couldn't get anywhere.

Boston Celtics – After Bird and McHale retired and Reggie Lewis died, it took 7 years of mediocrity or downright awfulness between '93 and 2000 before they managed to return to the playoffs between Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce.  Even then, their return was a rollercoaster for a few years before bottoming out last year.  Of course, now McHale has came back once more to save them.

Golden State Warriors – the Warriors nuked the '93-'94 50 win team during the next season.  As a result, they suffered through eight years of really bad teams followed by four years of barely mediocre teams before returning to the playoffs in last years amazing run.

Philadelphia 76ers – After the awful Charles Barkley-Jeff Hornacek trade netted no gain in the standings, they nuked the already bad team in 1993.  They remained radioactive until Iverson's 3rd year in '98-99'.

Qualified Success:
Portland Trailblazers – Frustrated, they dumped the old guard (Arvydas, Rasheed, Stoudamire, Anderson, Pippen) and tried to start over with their young guns Miles and Randolph.  Probably why they had three bad years before returning to relevance this year.  Still, a three year stretch isn't bad when compared to the other ones.

Denver Nuggets – After having produced several years of not-quite-good enough mediocrity behind Lafrentz, Van Exel and McDyess, the Nuggets blew up the team before the '01-'02 season. After two rock-bottom years as doormats, they recovered and made the playoffs in 2003-04 by adding Camby and Carmelo to Andre Miller.

New Orleans Hornets – While trading away the old core of Baron Davis, Jamal Mashburn, Jamal Magloire and David Wesley in the '04-'05 season, they suffered through an awful 18-64 nightmare.  The next two years, they barely missed the playoffs.  This year, they have returned to relevance.

So let's sit back and enjoy the ride, Hornets Fans.  We've got a lot to be pleased about.

Oh, and here's my thoughts from the game.  Literally.  This was what I was thinking:

  • Damnit guys, stop turning the ball over so much!
  • 19 turnovers?  You barely average 14!
  • Hit a shot, West. 
  • Anyone gonna guard Korver on the perimeter?  You know, their three point specialist?!
  • MmmMmm, cheetos.
  • Chandler and Paul, Rotate!  Move your feet!
  • West, 4 rebounds?  Go get the damn ball!
  • I really should go take care of that crying baby . . . naw, the wife'll get her.
  • Run the damn offense, we only got ONE corner three off of passing around the perimeter!
  • Deron Williams, you suck.

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