January 11, 2011
There are quite a few NBA fans that wouldn't brave a clear and 72-degree day to see a game between the Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Bobcats, so you can't blame nine-tenths of the over 10,000 people that bought tickets to Monday night's Bobcats/Grizzlies game for staying home instead of braving the elements and taking in this classic.
Charlotte was reeling from a major snow and then ice-storm, and with an early tip-off and the specter of the NCAA college football championship playing in everyone's warm living room, just 1,000 diehards showed up for the Bobcat blowout win.
To call the showing sparse would be an understatement. The arena (which can be outfitted to hold 20,000 fans) echoed with every dribble. The upper tier featured a not-at-all-obvious curtain that blocked off the empty seats. Just one-third of Charlotte's dance team showed. And both players and coaches had to be warned to watch their language, as both the television mics and sparse crowd could hear every rude word with ease without the usual lip-reading involved.
And the game? The game was terrible. Memphis (especially if Denver decides to rebuild and trade Carmelo Anthony(notes)) has a real shot at making the playoffs out West, and the Bobcats actually made the postseason last year, but Memphis seemed ill at ease with the strange setting, and struggled throughout.
[Snow damage: Before and after images of stadium's incredible collapse]
Matt Carroll's first hint was the curtains blocking off the upper deck when he came out for his pregame shooting routine. The effects of a rare Southern snowstorm really hit home just before tip-off when the Charlotte guard was supposed to throw a free T-shirt into the crowd.
"I was looking around and I couldn't find anybody," Carroll said. "So I said I was going to throw it up to a zone and see if someone can get it."
It's enough to make Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, wary of those lost gate receipts, pine for his days in warm and cozy Chicago, Ill. As if to rub it in, the Bulls will fly into Charlotte on Wednesday. Bring a shovel, Derrick Rose(notes).
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