As a fan of the Charlotte Bobcats, we haven’t had a whole lot of talent. Only one guy made the All-Star game from this team. There have been some guys who get lots of attention, I don’t know, maybe they say crazy stuff and got involved in a brawl up in Auburn Hills, Michigan years ago? There have been some high draft picks, national players of the year in college, one rookie of the year even and not much else, if you’re looking for guys who made an impact on the NBA in their time, particularly their time in Charlotte.
There are a few that hold magic places in my heart, and I think other fans as well but they got gone. Either they were traded, burned out of the league, ate their way out of basketball completely, had injury issues, weren’t meant to be drafted in the NBA in the first place or simply, let go in free agency. That’s what, or rather, whom this list is all about.
As soon as I came up with the concept of this list, there were several names that came to mind, obviously, at least 10. Largest among them, in the annals of Bobcats History, was Jason Richardson. J-Rich was one of those guys and I mean those guys who really, seriously changed the face of the franchise. He wasn’t a Bobcat for very long, just a season and a stub, 96 games in total but he raised things to a new level that we hadn’t seen previously in Charlotte. Well, not since the Hornets, but that’s a different story.
Jason Richardson is so low on the list, not because of that relatively short tenure, and definitely not because of his impact as a player but because of what he was traded for and what he ended up bringing in trade. His value by that metric is somewhat deflated, through no fault of his own. Basically, he was brought in for Brandan Wright and he was shipped out for Raja Bell and Boris Diaw. Actually, Brandan Wright yielded J-Rich and Jamareo Davidson, who didn’t make it in the league but I liked him as well. Then again, the “throw-in” on the trade sending J-Rich out was Jared Dudley, who I liked a whole hell of a lot as well.
J-Rich was and I guess continues to be a great guy, hell of a worker, standout athlete and a talented scorer. He’ll get you to 90 or 100 points and look great doing it but that doesn’t always equate to a win. The “look great doing it” part of that statement is to remind you that Jason Richardson won back to back slam dunk championships, one of which was an awesome duel with Gerald Wallace. He brought out his three-point shot in the one full year he played with the Charlotte Bobcats, attempting 100 more than in any season before or since.
Jason Richardson elevated the expectations for the Bobcats at the swing position. Who was it before him? Matt Carroll? Jumaine Jones? Derrick Anderson? I don’t know. No one else reliably held down that spot and was good for 20 or so points per game until maybe Stephen Jackson. He also meant a legitimized offense, where previously all you had to watch out for were some spotty shooters and Gerald Wallace, maybe Ray Felton getting to the hole or Okafor on a putback; Richardson was happy to put the scoring on his shoulders.
The reason I’d want him back in a Bobcats uniform or wish he’d never left is because of his dedication. I can remember the off season following that year he was so strong and if not for the coaching of Hammy McHamBiscuit and maybe Andrew Bynum’s elbow the Bobcats would have made the playoffs; We were all expecting the rebranding and a new logo and some new uniforms and the way we saw it? A video of Jason Richardson doing windsprints on the sidelines inside the arena in August. Dude was ready to come back after playing a full 82 games, starting every game, putting up shots at a higher clip and putting the team quietly on his back. Sadly, he was traded only a month or so into the next season.
He’s not higher on the list, as I said because of what trading him away produced. Boris Diaw and Raja Bell brought a completely different concept to a Larry Brown led team. Diaw’s versatility, Raja Bell’s defense and scoring (in spots) did many things well, where Richardson did one thing reasonably well. Oh yeah, Diaw/Bell helped elevate the Bobcats under Brown and Bell, along with Vladimir Radmanovic, netted the ‘Cats Stephen Jackson, which actually ended in a Playoff berth.
The trade that brought Richardson to Charlotte, after being drafted by Golden State and spending the first 6 years of his career in Oakland, was a sea-change for Charlotte. It also showed his character. He took out a full page ad in the paper back in the Bay Area thanking the fans. That is incredibly rare. I can remember times at BobcatsPlanet.com, when fans of GSW would sign in to the forums just to let us know what kind of guy we got.
It’s a shame he was traded just because of who he is and what he brings on the court, but in the long run, it worked out. I just have an attachment to Jason Richardson and he is #10 on RobertoGato.com’s List Of the Ones Who Got Away.