Since I am officially on vacation for the next week or so, I didn’t officially cover the NBA draft. But I did help increase the Charlotte Bobcats’ crowd by almost one percent at their free draft-day party, taking two of my sons (ages 15 and 12) and three of their teenaged friends to the main concourse at Time Warner Cable Arena.
There we watched the first few picks of the draft with probably 600-800 other fans. And the reaction from those diehards after the pick of Cody Zeller? Well, let’s just say they were underwhelmed.
No, let’s say more than that. Let’s describe it, because it was quite a scene.
As the No.4 pick approached, the crowd mostly wanted Kansas guard Ben McLemore or Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel. So when Zeller was announced by NBA commissioner David Stern, the immediate reaction from the Bobcat fans was a stunned “OOOOOHHHH” of disbelief, followed by a lot of booing, followed by at least one chant of “Bull----, Bull----.” I recorded it and just listened to it again on my iPhone, and the amount of vitriol was really amazing. It sounded almost like when NBA commissioner David Stern walked out to give the first few picks and the New York crowd booed him heatedly.
And the Zeller pick made a couple of people happy, too.
Was I one of the happy people? Well, no. As I wrote in the newspaper Thursday, I wanted the Bobcats to take Zeller’s teammate, Victor Oladipo. Unfortunately, he went at No.2. But I also wrote that Noel was the right choice if he were still there at No.4, and he was, and they didn’t take him.
Maybe we’re all very wrong. Maybe Zeller was a great choice and the Bobcats’ braintrust – particularly general manager Rich Cho, who seems out on a limb on this one -- will be proven right.
But the Bobcats certainly didn’t win the public-relations war Thursday night. Although the party itself was a nice and well-organized event, many of those fans filed out shortly after the Zeller pick, grumbling to themselves.