Shooting guard Gerald Henderson can recite all the reasons: The Charlotte Bobcats were too young, too injured and too short-handed. But history is history and records are records:
Everyone who played in Charlotte last season is now part of history. They played on the worst team, record-wise, ever in the NBA. Now, unless they win one of their first four regular-season games, theyll set the record for the longest losing streak this league has seen.
Henderson seemed to take that hardest among Bobcats last season. Its counter to his nature.
Im not a loser. All my life Ive been on winning teams, Henderson reflected recently. When you pretty much lose every game, and youre trying hard, thats a tough thing to take. That record, thats not something I wanted any part of. Were doing everything we can not to let that happen again.
Following a 7-59 season theres been abundant change: The Bobcats have a new coaching staff and five new players who figure to be in the rotation. The holdovers from last season see this as a fresh start.
Still, theyre on a 23-game losing streak, and that didnt stop with last season. If they fail to win one of their first four regular-season games theyll break the Cleveland Cavaliers record, set the season after LeBron James bolted out of Ohio.
This will be a story, locally and nationally. Take it from a Charlottean who slogged through that 26-game Cavs losing streak in the 2010-11season.
Its a story. It will be a story, Antawn Jamison told me. That team is owned by Michael Jordan the best player in the history of the game and theyre on that streak. You can count on Skip Bayless and my man (Stephen A. Smith) talking about it every day on ESPN.
The Cavs traded for Jamison, thinking hed be a finishing piece on a championship run. Then the Cavs folded in the 2010 playoffs, James signed with the Miami Heat, and Jamison was left behind to shepherd a bunch of mismatched parts that went 19-63.
Its not that we didnt try hard or didnt care. We just didnt have enough talent, said Jamison, now a Los Angeles Laker after considering signing with the hometown the Bobcats. I knew a lot of guys were looking at me for cues on how to act. I knew I couldnt show frustration to the point of being negative.
I kept saying to the guys, Its still a blessing to play this game. You could be getting up at 5 in the morning, working construction.
Jamisons advice to the Bobcats is simple: Keep your dignity. Dont point fingers. Be patient and accommodating when the national media invades your locker room.
And most importantly: Find a way to beat the Indiana Pacers on opening night, and put this thing to bed.
Five passing thoughts on the Bobcats and NBA in general:
• As stated above, the Bobcats must win at least one of their first four games to avoid the longest losing streak in NBA history. In order, those games are: Home versus Indiana, at Dallas, home vs. Phoenix and at New Orleans. Im guessing theyll beat the Suns, still regrouping in the absence of Steve Nash.
• Of course winning in Dallas would be pretty cool, since the Mavericks are the only NBA team the Bobcats still have never beaten.
• Early-season injuries to Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Love are a big deal. Neither might be a top-5 player, but each one is irreplaceable as far as how the Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves function. The Heat could overcome it if James or Dwyane Wade missed a month of games because of Miamis depth. Im not so sure the Mavs or TWolves can.
• The Brooklyn Nets five starters Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace combine to make over $72 million this season. Thats more than the projected payrolls of 23 of the NBAs 30 teams.
• The Lakers will pay over $100 million in player salary this season, but their guaranteed obligation for the 2014-15 season is only $9.7 million. Even assuming they re-sign center Dwight Howard, thats a lot of flexibility to recruit free agents to the NBAs premier landing spot.