Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Walker, Charlotte Ranger aims to end Charlotte's NBA All Star drought

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 at 12:43 PM

click to enlarge Kemba Walker (right) and his deputy Frank Kaminsky in Walker, Texas Ranger.
  • Kemba Walker (right) and his deputy Frank Kaminsky in Walker, Texas Ranger.


Who said the local film industry is dead?

A new web series that debuted at the Spectrum Center over the holiday weekend is filmed wholly in Charlotte and aims to raise awareness for a problem that has plagued our local NBA franchise for years: no players in the All Star Game.

Let's just sidestep the fact that Charlotte was in line to host the upcoming All Star Game until House Bill 2 inspired commissioner Adam Silver to move it — lost to New Orleans just as the franchise itself was in 2002.

The more immediate problem faced now by the Hornets — one that can potentially be fixed without having to deal with slithery members of the NCGOP — is a six-year drought in sending a Charlotte player to the NBA All Star Game. The last player to make it was Gerald Wallace, who appeared in the 2010 game as a representative of the Charlotte Bobcats. It's been 14 years since a player went as a Charlotte Hornet, when point guard Baron Davis repped the Hornets in 2002, their last year before moving to New Orleans.

Now in steps a brave new point guard — one who has arguably proved to be the best at his position in franchise history in five-and-a-half seasons — with a cowboy hat, a duster and a seemingly magical basketball.

Over the weekend, the Hornets debuted the first two episodes of Walker, Charlotte Ranger, a web series that parodies the awful '90s Chuck Norris vehicle Walker, Texas Ranger. In it, Walker stars as the namesake of the show alongside his deputy, played by the goofy Hornets big man Frank Kaminsky.

SPOILER ALERT: In the first two episodes, Walker assists a young Hornets fan in distress with a simple bounce pass of his basketball, then saves Hugo from three bad guys — conveniently wearing shirts that read Bad Guy 1, Bad Guy 2 and Main Bad Guy — with juke moves. The main bad guy then makes off to New Orleans, where Kaminsky promises Walker will eventually follow. The acting is laughably bad throughout and can be hard to watch, but that's what makes it fun. There won't be any Webby awards handed out for these performances, but the Hornets are hoping the awkwardness of it all will lead to a trip to New Orleans for Walker.

The series is meant to inspire fans to vote Walker into the All Star Game. Corny but fun campaigns like this have become the norm for the Charlotte marketing team. In 2014, they launched a "Big Al's Paint" website in an attempt to make the case for Bobcats center Al Jefferson to be named to the All-NBA team. He was named third team All-NBA that year.

Near the end of the 2014-15 season, the Hornets launched a "MKG Security" campaign complete with commercials and a press kit seen below. That campaign to get Michael Kidd-Gilchrist named to the NBA All-Defensive team was not successful, although it appears MKG will reprise his role as "chief security officer" in an upcoming episode of Walker, Charlotte Ranger.

The Hornets are expected to release new episodes at upcoming home games on Thursday night against the Miami Heat, New Year's Eve against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Jan. 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. All-Star voting ends on Jan. 16.

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