A silent moment of anticipation gave way to unruliness Thursday when NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the Charlotte Bobcats’ selection with the No. 4 pick: Cody Zeller.
Hands went on heads in disbelief, thumbs went down in disapproval, and people headed for the doors in disgust.
“It’s awful,” Jason Miller of Charlotte said. “That’s a terrible pick. Jordan did it again.”
Though they were generally drowned out by boos that continued through Zeller’s short televised interview, a number of fans cheered the choice.
“I love it,” Jay Anderson of Charlotte said. “We need a big who can score. Zeller will step in and help right away.”
“I’m ecstatic,” Matt Cooper of Charlotte said. “I wanted what’s best for the Bobcats. Zeller’s game is going to pair well with Kemba’s (Walker).”
Before the Bobcats went on the clock, roughly 750 fans gathered in the atrium at Time Warner Cable Arena, where ESPN’s broadcast was shown on two big screens, with an M.C. who interacted with the crowd during commercial breaks.
After the Washington Wizards selected Otto Porter Jr. third, the M.C. asked the crowd who they wanted Charlotte to select. Nerlens Noel’s name received a mix of cheers and boos, as did Alex Len’s. Ben McLemore got the widest support from the crowd. Zeller’s name wasn’t mentioned.
The draft surprised fans in attendance from the get-go as they appeared stunned by Cleveland’s selection of UNLV’s Anthony Bennett first overall. Indiana’s Victor Oladipo going second to Orlando elicited mixed but relatively subdued reactions from the crowd. When the Wizards chose Porter, cheers rang out as several top prospects were still available for the Bobcats’ choosing.
“I’m surprised Nerlens fell so far (to sixth overall),” Jay Datta said of the Kentucky star expected by many to be drafted first overall.
Fans of all ages came to watch Thursday, wearing a near-even split of Bobcats and Hornets gear, with some wearing both, as the organization prepares to re-adopt the Hornets name before the 2014-2015 season.