The Charlotte Hornets haven't had a lot of success since returning to the NBA as the Bobcats in 2004 — until this season. Now, the team's hopes could be dashed by the Heat on Sunday and one of the Hornets' best-known hecklers is partly to blame.
Infamously known as "Purple Shirt Man," the courtside fan achieved something most Dwyane Wade hecklers couldn't: He got noticed. Late in the fourth quarter, the normally stoic Wade took notice of the headbanded fan hurling insults at him and decided to exact his revenge on the court. After driving the dagger into the Hornets he looked at the heckler and twisted the knife.
Heat's Dwyane Wade serves the Hornets w/ the clutch dagger then stares down the Heckler pic.twitter.com/ibP3mXEC2q— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 30, 2016
It seems like a stretch to implicate Purple Shirt Man as a cause for the Hornets' downfall, but consider this: Up until the fourth quarter of Game 6, Wade only attempted one three-pointer across five games. He had varying degrees of success offensively in the series up to that point, but decided to take over later in the game. After entering the game with 4:20 left, he took and made two critical threes — the first to extend Miami's lead to nine with just over three minutes left, then finally the dagger that secured the victory.
In the first three quarters, Wade spread the ball around and led the team in assists, but upon returning to the court late in the fourth he kept the ball for himself and finished with eight points, a steal, a block and drew a critical foul — all in four minutes. The job of a heckler is to get noticed and throw a player off their game, but inciting Wade was the perfectly wrong thing to do in the situation, and he made the Hornets (and the fan) pay.
There's another layer to this story. Back on Jan. 2, a Hornets fan sitting courtside heckled Kevin Durant so much that he was given a warning by the arena and informed that he would be ejected if the behavior continued. We can't be 100 percent sure, but it looked an awful lot like Purple Shirt Man.
Keep in mind that on Jan. 2, the night Durant was heckled in Charlotte, he went off for 29 points and 11 rebounds. Had the Hornets won that night, they would have secured the No.3 seed in the East, never played the Heat and instead would have played the Celtics who lost in six games to Atlanta.
The Charlotte Observer found Purple Shirt Man. Say what you will, but at least he's a die-hard fan. He has held season tickets for seven years (which is as much punishment as treat in Charlotte) and drives a hour and a half to every game.
Hassan Whiteside wanted to sound off on Purple Shirt Man, too, but thanks to a timely block from a PR guy he saved himself.
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