The Bobcats just got swept by Orlando in their first-ever playoff series, falling 99-90 Monday night. It was a strange evening dominated in the media room by the latest batch of rumors that Bobcats coach Larry Brown was close to leaving Charlotte to assume the presidency of the Philadelphia 76ers -- a Yahoo.com story touching off these rumors.
Brown said again after the game that he would coach nowhere else but for Michael Jordan and Charlotte and acted offended that the question was even asked.
But when later asked specifically whether he would take a front-office job elsewhere -- in other words, not coaching elsewhere but still leaving Charlotte -- he said, "That's hypothetical."
Brown made it sound like he wanted to stay, saying he loved nothing more than coaching. But he also sounded like he more or less had to get permission to do it again from his wife Shelly, who has stayed in the Philadelphia area with their two children all this time while Brown has been in Charlotte, coaching basketball and otherwise living what I would find to be a rather lonely existence.
Brown seemed weary after the game and said he felt "miserable" about the sweep. He also noted he will be 70 on his next birthday. In other words, this issue is not completely done by a long shot -- Brown is still going to have long conversations with his wife and Jordan before deciding for sure whether he will coach Charlotte in 2010-11. It sounded to me like retirement was at least as much an option as taking a front-office job in Philly -- let's be serious, if you really wanted to be around your wife and kids a lot more, you'd retire, not just take another job closer to them.
OK, onto the 5 ugly numbers for the Bobcats:
15: Out of 16 teams in the playoffs, that's how many teams have won at least a single first-round game. Charlotte was the only one to get swept. In the party everyone wants to get to, the Bobcats are the first one ushered out the door.
3-for-18: Stephen Jackson's shooting performance from three-point range in this series.
12: Difference in Bobcats starting center Theo Ratliff's number of fouls in the four-game series (15) compared to his number of rebounds (3).
14-12: Boris Diaw's total field goals for the series compared to his total turnovers. Diaw was decent Monday, but in the first 3 games he disappeared at all the wrong times.
2: Charlotte's lead at halftime in Game 4. Was this a bad thing? Well, no. But a reporter who has covered the Magic all season saw me at halftime and said, "That's just about as bad as the Magic can play. And they're down by 2."
In other words, as soon as Orlando got going again, it would be over, and that's exactly what happened. The talent variance in this series was so severe that Charlotte really only had one good chance to win -- in Game 3 when Dwight Howard fouled out -- and the Bobcats blew that one.