Welcome to #30 of the 30 Greatest Hornets of All-Time. It is part of an ongoing series in the summer of '08 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Hornet franchise. Today's contribution by atthehive. Today's references: ESPN (images), SLAM Magazine (excerpt), Hornets.com (excerpt). Enjoy!
It's hard to say that any 18 win season could have a "hero," let alone this one. For Hornets fans, 2004-2005 was truly the season from hell. 18-64. Team superstar Baron Davis was continually pulling up lame with injury, not to mention rumors of his wanting out. Lee Nailon- no offense to him (pun intended!)- led the team in scoring. Coach Tim Floyd had just departed, and new HC Byron Scott entered the fold with totally new defensive and offensive sets. Chris Andersen got nearly 6 attempts a night. Rookie J.R. Smith managed to get into Coach Scott's doghouse mere months into the season. This is all to say nothing of Hurricane Katrina, which would strike later in '05.
It's even more improbable that the "hero" of this season was who he was. The list of trades Dan Dickau has been involved in is as lengthy (and horrific) as a Bill Plaschke article. Traded on draft night '02 from the Kings to the Hawks. Traded in '04 to the Blazers. Traded again in '04 to the Warriors. Traded again in '04 to the Mavericks. How about 4 trades in a year? Traded in December '04 to the Hornets. He's been traded 3 times since 2004. He transferred colleges in 2000. He attended nine different preschools in 1981. (Okay, made that last one up).
But the year from hell was, ironically enough, a godsend for Dickau. It was the year it all came together, when the success expected of a first-team All-American came to fruition. 4th on Dallas' PG depth chart as the season began, he eventually ascended to a starting role with the Hornets. 2-18 to start the year, New Orleans would pick up 14 more wins as Dickau took the reigns.
Junsier and I were originally going to make the Greatest 30 Hornet list based on Win Shares with slight modifications. I suppose DD even making the Top 30 is a monumental modification to say the least- he ranks 61st on the Hornets' all-time Win Share list. But he's here because he gave us a tiny, wavering flicker of hope. The last few years had been a whirlwind. In 2001, the Hornets looked like they could be serious contenders in the East for a few years to come- BDiddy, Jamal Mashburn, and Jamaal Magloire allowed us to dream. Then the injuries came. Paul Silas left. Charlotte lost its team. The Hornets joined the formidable Western Conference. The playoffs were suddenly a distant dream just a year or two after the EC Finals were a realistic expectation. We needed something to take away the pain, and Dan Dickau was it. In a word, he inspired us when an 18-64 season should have made all enthusiasm impossible.
No single game represents that inspiration more than The Clippers Game. It occurred at New Orleans Arena, and for the most part it was yet another ho-hum game for the 6-32 Hornets... until the closing moments. Down one with 40 seconds left, Dickau put New O into a tie with a free throw. After a tremendous P.J. Brown hustle play to get the rebound off the second missed FT, Dickau drilled a triple from straightaway 24 feet. It was truly cold-blooded, but a few seconds later the LAC responded with a three of their own. Enter Dickau for take two. I can't put it in words like Bob Licht: (also make sure to listen to the audio): Dickau For Three!
"The game was tied at 85 with 10 seconds remaining. Following a Hornets timeout Dickau and Rogers ran a high screen and roll forcing seven-footer Mikki Moore to switch out on the six-foot-nothing point guard. Dickau feigned a crossover dribble drive, stepped back and launched a game-winning three-pointer over the outreached arm of Moore. I also had a unique perspective courtside, just to the left of the Hornets bench. The play took place on the opposite end of the floor which allowed me to see the reaction of owner George Shinn, who was sitting courtside across from our radio locale. The only person in the building who leaped higher than Mr. Shinn when the ball went through the nylon was Mikki Moore; Shinn’s vertical leap was in celebration while Moore’s was in desperation."
The year was a disaster as far as the Hornets were concerned, and it's perhaps fitting that SLAM Magazine (perhaps too meanly) nicknamed Dickau the "Disaster" as he was traded from team to team. 67 outstanding games, though, made a believer out of the magazine, which issued a full apology in its article "Our Man Dan." An excerpt:
So, consider this our white flag. We were wrong. I was wrong. We'll still call you Disaster, though now it has a different connotation. Increasingly, you cause it, not suffer it. You've made the name your own. And that's what winning's all about.
Dickau's career hasn't been the same since he left the Crescent City, and he's currently toiling on with the very team he broke the hearts of- the L.A. Clippers. They are his 9th team in 7 NBA seasons.
As a Hornets fan, I truly hope he can catch on regularly somewhere as his career begins its downtrend. Because in a year full of disasters for the team and for the city, this was one Disaster you didn't mind watching.
Teal Tallies: 20th in 3PM (84), 29th in AST (346), 36th in 3P% (.346), 18th in FT% (.836), Total Salary of $893, 400 from the Hornets