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Tom Talks: What’s up with Charlotte 49ers players leaving, Hornets missing playoffs?

Mark Price helped Charlotte Hornets players like Kemba Walker, here in 2013. So why are Charlotte 49ers players leaving since Price was hired as head coach?
Mark Price helped Charlotte Hornets players like Kemba Walker, here in 2013. So why are Charlotte 49ers players leaving since Price was hired as head coach? dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Welcome to Tom Talks. The questions are imaginary, the answers real.

SINCE CHARLOTTE RELEASED ALAN MAJOR, FOUR PLAYERS HAVE LEFT THE PROGRAM AND THE TOP RECRUIT DECIDED NOT TO SHOW UP. DO YOU STILL THINK MARK PRICE WAS A GOOD HIRE FOR THE 49ERS?

I do. I don’t purport to know how the mind of an 18 or 19-year-old works. But if I’m a guard, and I can play for Price, I surely don’t leave the team he coaches. Price is one of the great shooters of all time, and his work with the pick and roll helped the point guard position evolve to its current state. He can impart what he knows, and he’s a good guy. I don’t get it.

▪ WHAT’S THE MOST SURPRISING THING YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED IN AUGUSTA?

I left the course after the first round and turned on the radio, which was satellite’s Classic Vinyl. Playing was Free Bird. There are no azaleas in Free Bird. It was one of the great juxtapositions of all time. I eat at Waffle House once a year, and that’s when I leave Augusta for Charlotte. It helps me adjust to the real world. Free Bird already has.

▪ DOES IT BOTHER YOU THAT FRESHMEN SUCH AS DUKE’S JAHLIL OKAFOR LEAVE SCHOOL AFTER ONE YEAR FOR THE NBA, AND WHAT SHOULD BE DONE ABOUT IT?

If a newspaper approached me after my freshman year at Minnesota, and said we’ll give you a bunch of money to leave school and work for us, I would have left. I’m glad I stuck around; college confers benefits that have nothing to do with a career. But what’s the justification for criticizing Okafor or golf’s Jordan Spieth, who left Texas before the conclusion of his sophomore year? Adults sometimes think they know the one true way. Well, those kids shouldn’t leave early because we wouldn’t have. How do you know you wouldn’t have? I loved watching the Blue Devils this season. The team was talented and selfless and a joy to watch. I hope Okafor and his young teammates enjoy long and successful careers in the NBA.

▪ DON’T YOU FEEL LIKE AN IDIOT?

For what?

▪ FOR SAYING THAT THE CHARLOTTE HORNETS WOULD MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?

I didn’t say they would. I said they could. We are a cynical society, and sometimes it feels like a contest to see who can give up first. I figured they had a shot.

▪ SO WHY DIDN’T THE HORNETS MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?

Their offense is so limited that they have to do almost everything right to consistently win. They failed to. Also, they kept getting hurt, and couldn’t overcome the injuries. The odds of them jumping to the top of the lottery are miniscule, but at least they’re in it. They desperately need an influx of talent. They have good players – Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Big Al Jefferson. They don’t have any great ones. Who knows what Noah Vonleh will offer next season? Who knows if coach Steve Clifford can find Lance Stephenson a role? A year ago this felt like a team on the way. Now? I don’t know. In the NBA and the NFL a team often has to get worse to get better. Finish low and get a draft pick that’s high. The Hornets already have tried that. I believe in Clifford. But I have reservations about their ability to find the right player in the draft.

▪ WHEN I GO TO A SPORTING EVENT I LIKE, THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING THAT TELLS ME I’M THERE, SOMETHING THAT INDICATES I’VE ATTAINED IT. WHAT TELLS YOU THAT YOU’VE ARRIVED AT AUGUSTA NATIONAL GOLF CLUB?

Across the street from the main gate is a preacher, a man who wears a T-shirt and a beard and is Radio Free Europe loud. He’s the first evidence of the Masters I see and certainly is the first I hear. His message seems to be that if you go to the tournament you won’t go to heaven, and he talks as if he gets paid by the word. What’s interesting is that the ground on which he speaks is owned by Augusta National, a member of the club tells me. And they let him preach. I don’t mind the guy. But I feel bad for the two kids that accompany him. Both appear to be in their early teens. Regardless of your religious philosophy, that’s a rough way to spend a day, a week or a life.

▪ HOW COME SCOTT GETS A WHOLE PAGE AND YOU GET ONLY A COLUMN?

It has to be his youthful energy.

Sorensen: 704-358-5119; tsorensen@charlotteobserver.com; Twitter: @tomsorensen

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