North Carolina

No joke: May will move on

Sean May left Charlotte on Tuesday as a punch line. I'm still deciding whether that says more about May or Charlotte.

We've become a mature pro-sports town, and mostly that's a good thing. We have expectations for the Panthers and the Bobcats. That night, in 1988, when the Hornets lost by 40 in their debut against the Cleveland Cavaliers, we gave them a standing ovation. Now it seems quaint.

We've developed a cynicism, maybe a cruelty, these days that's sad. May was the 13th pick in 2005. Months earlier, he was the MVP (or whatever term the NCAA uses) for North Carolina at the Final Four. As a Bobcat, he mostly sat in street clothes, rubbing a sore knee.

And some of you took great glee in savaging him for it.

May is signing with the Sacramento Kings, and probably that's best for all. He needs a fresh start. Some of you need a fresh target.

May asked for it. From the numerous e-mails I got (some including camera-phone images), May spent too many late nights eating and drinking in Charlotte's entertainment district.

Ripping May is a Charlotte hobby. The day the Bobcats said they weren't picking up a $3.6 million qualifying offer (and, no, I wouldn't have done that, either), my son had a baseball game. Another parent -- admittedly a UNC grad -- told me she couldn't get over how mean people were in reveling in May's troubles.

I agree in this way: Adam Morrison never took this grief, and he walked away from the Bobcats much the way Kerry Collins quit on the Panthers. Morrison wanted the benefits of being the third pick. He shriveled in response to the expectations that accompanied that pick.

May didn't shrivel. He got it that he disappointed people. He wanted to make amends. May's first choice was to re-sign here, not because it was an easy way to make another paycheck because he wanted to make this right.

May e-mailed me Tuesday to say he was signing with the Kings. I e-mailed back with two questions: Did the Bobcats make any offer, and how would you reflect on your time here?

The first question: To the best of May's knowledge, the Bobcats never tried to bring him back. I'm still wondering what the Bobcats will do for a backup power forward this season.

As for the second question, Sean gave me a long answer, but here's the key part: "The fans in Charlotte have always been great to me, and I will miss them dearly. This will always be home to me.... And I definitely did appreciate my time here. Definitely."

Sean May never gave up on you. You gave up on him. I have this contrarian hunch his second act might make you wish you had been more patient.