Stage 4: Depression
The Charlotte Hornets drop 17 of their next 18 games and plummet to the bottom of the standings.
The next five weeks of Hornets basketball ranks as the absolute worst stretch of hoops I've ever watched, including the 7-59 Charlotte Bobcats in 2011. James Naismith had to be rolling in his grave every time Ish Smith turned the ball over or Miles Bridges hoisted a stepback three-pointer at the end of the shot clock. There's no other way to describe it - this was basketball hell.
The Hornets lost 17 of their next 18 games and possessed a record of 8-30 at the end of the losing streak. With 12 of these 18 losses coming by double digits, many games felt decided before the fourth quarter began. In December, Charlotte ranked 29th in defensive rating and dead last in both points per game and opponent three-point percentage. Taking time to watch this team became a chore, but not the kind you get a weekly allowance for.
Cue the fourth stage of grief: depression. Aside from the legendary Eric Collins one-liners, absolutely zero joy came from turning on Bally Sports three times a week. (Side note - Collins and Dell Curry deserve some sort of award for maintaining their enthusiasm while working these games.) Every blown defensive assignment or terrible offensive possession took time off my life. I often found myself reminiscing on Al Jefferson post hooks or Kemba Walker's late-game heroics. We didn't know how good we had it.