New in the collection: Charlotte Bobcats souvenir gnome

This 6-inch-tall composite figurine of Kemba Walker was given away to fans at Time Warner Cable Arena, Jan. 22, 2014.

The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, 95-91, despite point guard Walker’s missing the game with an ankle sprain.

This was the last season the city’s NBA team went by Bobcats.

It’s complicated: After the 2002 season, the original Hornets moved to New Orleans. In 2004, Charlotte was granted a new franchise, the Bobcats, named for owner Bob Johnson. After the 2013–14 season, the Bobcats, now owned by Michael Jordan,  changed their name to the Hornets.
Facts from Kemba Walker gnome box
Box top for Kemba Walker gnome
 

Jordan’s loyalty to UNC spelled end for short shorts

“When [Michael Jordan] made his way into the NBA [in 1984], he wanted to keep his college experience close by….But Jordan’s UNC short shorts wouldn’t fit under his Chicago Bulls short shorts, so he had to wear baggy, knee-length Bulls shorts instead….

“Soon, these extra long shorts became the favored style.  By 2003, almost every single NBA player had jettisoned the short shorts….”

About those Republican sneaker buyers….

“….There is one arena in which [Lebron]  James has topped the man he wants to dethrone as the Greatest Basketball Player of All Time….  James has become the moral leader of the NBA….

“There’s absolutely zero chance that Michael Jordan would ever endorse a wildcat strike [such as the one proposed against Donald Sterling]. He’s always been incredibly careful not to say anything that might interfere with the massive marketing apparatus that he built or could in any way give the perception that the entire totality of his being wasn’t focused on destroying any and all opponents in his path on the court.

“In 1990, he was asked to support the progressive black mayor of Charlotte, Harvey Gantt, who was challenging an icon of racial animosity in Jesse Helms. As Nike’s chief pitchman, Jordan famously refused to give his endorsement because ‘Republicans buy sneakers too.’ ”

— From “LeBron James Is a Better Leader Than Michael Jordan Ever Was” by Robert Silverman in the Daily Beast (May 15)

Surely, “Republicans buy sneakers too” remains Jordan’s most memorable quote. (Alas, there’s not much competition.) But did he really say it?

Tallying Tar Heels on Time covers (cont.)

In addition to the previously mentioned  “Uncle Joe” Cannon (1923), Henry L. Stevens Jr. (1932) and Frank McNinch (1938), these Time magazine cover subjects are among those with various degrees of rootedness in North Carolina:

Wallace Wade, Duke football coach (1937). The cover line, noting the South’s newfound football prowess, was classic Timespeak: “Southward the course of history takes its way.”

Ava Gardner (1951).

Billy Graham (1954). Graham would repeat in 1993 (“A Christian in Winter: Billy Graham at 75”), in 1996 with son Franklin Graham (“The Prodigal Son”) and in 2007 (“The Political Confessions of Billy Graham”).

Althea Gibson, tennis player born in Silver, S.C., and reared as a teenager in Wilmington (1957).

Bowman Gray, chairman of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco (1960). Check out the illustration.

James Taylor (1971).

Sam Ervin (1973). The first of more than two dozen Watergate covers in coming months.

Jesse Helms (1981). “To the right, march!”

Stanley Pons of Valdese, supposed “cold fusion” discoverer, with colleague Martin Fleischmann (1989). “Fusion or illusion?”

Elizabeth Dole with Hillary Clinton (1996). “Who would be better First Lady?”

Michael Jordan (1998). “We may never see his likes again” — followed a year later by “The world’s biggest superstar calls it quits.”

John Edwards with John Kerry (2004).

 

Ngram: Good old mountain dew? Not exactly

More phrase-frequency charts from Google Books Ngram Reader:

— mountain dew vs. Mountain Dew

— Michael Jordan vs. Thomas Wolfe, Andy Griffith and Sam Ervin

— Lumbee Indians vs. Catawba Indians

— Wilmington 10 vs. Chicago Seven

— Charlotte Hornets vs. Charlotte Bobcats

Ngram Viewer is back, and it’s taking (N.C.) names

It’s been a while since I last dumped a batch of North Caroliniana into the Google Books Ngram Viewer, that instantaneous measure of phrase frequency over the decades.

Caveat e-lector: This is data at its rawest — conclusions should be jumped to for entertainment purposes only.

Here goes:

— Duke lacrosse vs. Duke football and Duke basketball

— Grandfather Mountain vs. Cold Mountain

— Oprah Winfrey vs. Michael Jordan and Colin Powell

— Charlotte North Carolina vs. Raleigh North Carolina

— Southern fried chicken vs. Buffalo wings and Chicken McNuggets

My magical moment with Michael Jordan

“During a rain delay in a [1997] game against the Phillies, a security guard approached me on the bench. ‘There is someone here to see you,’ he said….

“I took one step toward the locker room, and there was Michael Jordan. Yes, that Michael Jordan.

“Three years earlier, during the one season Jordan played professional baseball, he played for the Birmingham Barons and I played for the Orlando Cubs, both in the Double-A Southern League. As opponents we came to know each other. My mother’s family hailed from [Rocky Mount] North Carolina, so we had plenty to talk about….

“Michael had been in a skybox at Wrigley until the rain delay. Remarkably, he said he had been following my career….  Then he said I should call him to link up.

“When I returned to the dugout, you could hear a pin drop. Glanville knows Jordan? How can that be? He just got to the big leagues.

“A few days later, [Cubs star Sammy Sosa] approached me in the locker room. This time he didn’t ask me to fetch him a cup of water. Instead he asked if I’d like him to bring me to the ballpark in his luxury SUV [and] to hang out with him from time to time.

“Sammy began to ask me all the time for his fellow superstar’s phone number…. I never gave it to him.

“Maybe if he’d brought me some water.”

— From “The Game from Where I Stand: A Ballplayer’s Inside View” by Doug Glanville (2010)