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Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Michael Jordan could no longer hide his frustration midway through the Bobcats’ dismal season last year. Not wanting anyone to see how angry he was, Charlotte’s owner moved from his seat at the end of the team’s bench to his more secluded luxury suite high above the court.
Still, he didn’t give up on his club then and he isn’t now.
The ultra-competitive Jordan said despite watching his club “hit rock bottom” during the most miserable season in NBA history that he’s “in it for the long haul” when it comes to seeing his struggling franchise transformed into a consistent winner.
He knows it won’t be a quick, easy process.
“Are we a playoff team? C’mon, we can’t expect that,” Jordan said Thursday. “But we need to get the ball rolling in the right direction. I’m not real happy about the record book scenario last year. It’s very, very frustrating.”
Charlotte finished 7-59 and with the worst winning percentage (.106) in NBA history,
Jordan, who won six NBA titles with the Chiciago Bulls, believes he has the right man to turn things around in new coach Mike Dunlap.
Dunlap has taken a no-nonsense, back-to-basics approach to coaching basketball — something Jordan said has been missing in Charlotte.
“For years those steps have been skipped,” Jordan said. “… We don’t have a star that can carry the team, so you’ve got to learn to play together. That is what I love about (Dunlap). He’s going to get back to the basics with good passes, pivots, boxing out, running, taking care of the ball and taking good shots. All of the things that were lost.”
Jordan said the challenge has been getting players to buy in, particularly when it comes to Dunlap’s grueling three- to four-hour marathon practices.
But he’s there to make sure they do.
Jordan saw what he perceived as “resistance” from some players to Dunlap’s ways earlier this week, pulled them aside after practice and dressed them down. He told them that he fully supports Dunlap’s philosophies and if they don’t agree with it they won’t be around for long.
That seemed to get the players’ attention.
Jordan said the next day he saw a change in attitude.
“I want to establish a culture within in this organization so that when you plug a guy in, the culture is sitting there and no one guy is bigger than that culture,” Jordan said. “You either fit in or you don’t fit in. When you look at organizations that are established they have a winning culture.”
Jordan said once the Bobcats establish that culture more big-name free agents will want to come to Charlotte.
“Last year we went through the process of stripping down the organization and trying to build that back up,” Jordan said. “And this is another step toward that. Getting a young coach who understands our vision about what type of team we want to be and then being able to go pluck some of these (free agents) to mesh with what we have.”
The Bobcats added some veteran leadership to a young team this offseason, claiming center Brendan Haywood off waivers, trading for guard Ben Gordon and signing free agent Ramon Sessions from the Los Angeles Lakers.
While all three are proven commodities and bring various skills, none are considered franchise players — certainly not the way Jordan was with the Bulls.
Jordan would love to have a marquee player.
And if that player does comes available in free agency or via trade — and if he wants to play in Charlotte — Jordan said he’s willing to go to great lengths to get him.
“I’ll spend money, that that’s not even a question, if a person fits what we want to do and it makes sense,” Jordan said. “But I don’t think it makes sense for us to be in a luxury tax situation and fighting for the eighth spot in the playoffs. That doesn’t make any sense. You have to spend money wisely.”
Jordan won’t say when he expects the Bobcats to make the playoffs or even how many wins it would take for him to consider this a successful season.
He only told Dunlap he expects the team should be much better on Feb. 1 than they are Friday night when they open the season against the Indiana Pacers.
“Our (long-term) success is predicated on a lot of things, especially this year,” Jordan said. “First, how will the (young players) adapt to the process we’re going through. We’ll know what holes we have to plug at the end of the year because we have some key contracts coming up” with Gerald Henderson and Byron Mullens becoming free agents.
“We will start to plug some of that,” Jordan said. “But it’s hard for me to make that suggestion of two or three years we’re going to be in the playoffs. I hope we are.”
The Bobcats should have significant salary cap space next year, and Jordan hopes the new CBA will prevent players to jumping to what he calls “mega-teams” and create more parity throughout the league.
Any way you look at it, Jordan and the Bobcats have a long road to hoe.
But Jordan wants to see it through.
“I don’t anticipate getting out of this business,” Jordan said. “My competitive nature is I want to succeed. It’s always been said that when I can’t find a way to do anything, I will find a way to do it.
“I didn’t get in the business to try to get out. Granted I want to turn this thing around as fast as possible but this is obviously a process. I’m committed to it and I want to pass it down to my family members or my kids. I want this to always be in Charlotte.”
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.
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