The term "breakfast test" in newspaper journalism symbolizes published words or images that would prevent readers from losing their stomach contents when terminology or photos are considered unacceptable.
Losing a myriad of games by 20 or more points this season is not suitable to NBA standards and the Charlotte Bobcats are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
It's amusing and somewhat nauseating to hear someone call the Detroit Pistons a tough team these days, but, then again, one must know its sources. That's exactly what discharged from the mouth of Bobcats guard D.J. Augustin following Thursday's 109-85 loss to an inferior Pistons team that also is out of playoff contention and swept Charlotte in four games.
"That's a tough, rugged team. They play hard, fight us and we didn't do that to them," Augustin told the Charlotte Observer. "They always win when they play like that."
Actually, the Pistons have played stingy before and lost. It's just that Charlotte is horrendous and made Detroit appear comparable to Miami or Chicago when actually it is slightly better than Washington or Cleveland. The Bobcats arguably have two reasons for their demise: injuries and coaching; or because the team that has been assembled the past few years simply won't jell for unknown circumstances.
Charlotte has hit rock bottom, as evidenced by its 7-50 record that coincides with a 14-game losing streak. It is only two setbacks away from matching its franchise-record skid of 16 straight defeats set earlier this season from Jan. 16-Feb. 15, and there's no end in sight with a challenging crop of talent still left on the schedule. Miami is next on the docket, followed by other matchups with the likes of Boston, Chicago, Memphis, Orlando and New York.
How can you blame anyone affiliated with the organization for already mailing in the season? Maybe Bobcats owner Michael Jordan has given up since his Hall of Fame court skills haven't carried over into the front office. Jordan was even questioned by former Bobcats coach Sam Vincent in a recent article in USA Today.
"The work he put in to be a great player and the work you put in to be a great executive, those are different things," Vincent told the newspaper. "That additional time you spend on jump shots, running, dunking, I don't know if he puts in that same amount of time as an executive, or if he even cares to."
Those are disparaging remarks for the affluent one more commonly known as "Air Jordan," a flattering term no current player on the Bobcats roster will ever achieve in their lifetime. There's more concern in Charlotte than the business savvy of Jordan, as the team is coming off three straight losses to the Wizards, Cavaliers and Pistons. The Wizards easily won by 28 points and are second-to-last in the Eastern Conference at 14-44.
Charlotte, which hasn't prevailed since March 17 versus Toronto, is last in the NBA in point differential, having being outscored by an average of 13.3 points per game, which ranks second-worst in league history. Dallas set the mark back in 1992-93, when it was outscored by 15.2 ppg. There are no signs of appeasement ahead for head coach and former NBA journeyman Paul Silas, either, and he could be on his way to the unemployment line very soon.
Among all the negative analysis, there are actually a few argent spots that deserve some attention. Leading scorer Corey Maggette, though out for the season with an Achilles injury, enjoyed a solid season with 15.0 ppg and brought a veteran presence to the floor 36 times in 2011-12.
The question still remains, however, if Maggette will return next season being that he has one more year left on his contract worth about $10.9 million. Whether Charlotte uses its amnesty option on the former Duke star remains to be seen. How much better can the Bobcats get if they save some dough on opting not to bring back one of their more productive players?
Rookie Kemba Walker was as good as advertised and is averaging 12.4 points and 4.4 assists per game. Walker just needs a few tweaks to his repertoire and can be just as talented as fellow rookies Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio. Augustin and Gerald Henderson are proven scorers when healthy, while younger players Byron Mullens and Bismack Biyombo have plenty of upside.
It's understandable that possible free agents would want to avoid Charlotte as a possible destination, so it will be up to the current roster, possible trades and some wise drafting to inspire potential suitors.
Until then, however, fans should keep an airsick bag nearby.