For the most part, these terms are mutually exclusive. A player can’t be a rookie and a veteran, he can’t be inexperienced and a leader. But Charlotte Bobcats forward Othella Harrington is both.
Entering his 11th year in the NBA, Harrington is a veteran, the most experienced player on the Bobcats roster, yet this is his first year with Charlotte, making him a rookie on the team. He’s inexperienced in that he doesn’t know the Bobcats routines or plays, yet he’s a leader because he is so knowledgeable about the game in general. It’s a role that not many players experience, but Harrington is embracing it.
“I’m new on this team, so I’m just trying to fit in and get a feel for the guys,” the 6-9, 235-pounder said. “I’m just trying to become a part of this team. I’m going to lead when I can and impart some wisdom, but right now I’m just trying to fit in with the system.”
Point guard Brevin Knight is the second-most veteran player on the roster, and he knows that the rookies and younger players on the team look up to Harrington, just as they have looked up to Knight for the past two seasons.
“It’s an adjustment period for him, but he’ll definitely become one of our leaders on and off the court,” Knight said. “Right now Othella is trying to figure everything out, but once the season starts, the other guys will look to the both of us to lead them in the right direction, and that’s what we’ll do.”
It shouldn’t take Harrington long to fit in, as he’s played for five different teams in his NBA career, most recently with Chicago, before signing with the Bobcats as a free agent in July. For his career, he’s played in 661 games, averaging 7.7 points and 4.6 rebounds, while shooting .507 from the field. He provides a low-post presence, and he will use his work ethic and toughness to help turn the Bobcats into a postseason contender.
“I definitely think we are a playoff-caliber team; we definitely have the talent,” he said. “It just depends on if we can grow every day and develop the chemistry, which I think we can.”
General Manager and Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff is pleased with what his most tenured player has brought to training camp practices so far.
“He’s a guy who has gotten it done for many years, and he has a great head and great toughness,” Bickerstaff said. “Our frontline does not have the experience, and you see him talking to Emeka (Okafor) and some of the other guys about what to do. That’s the value he has. He has the respect because of the years that he’s been in the league. He leads in such a friendly way that everyone wants to listen to him.”
Even though he may be a newcomer to the Bobcats, Harrington is familiar with the players, and was aware of the situation he was entering in the Queen City.
“Having played them before, I knew what to expect,” the former Georgetown University star said. “I know they are going to play hard and fight tooth and nail to win the game. I always admired that, and now I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Now that he’s participated in several days of training camp, Harrington adamantly says that he’s pleased with the way practices have gone so far. He is impressed with the way that everybody came into camp ready to work, and also that the players are willing to forego individual accolades to work together as a team.
“Gerald (Wallace) has probably surprised me more than anybody,” Harrington said. “I knew he was athletic and really got out on the floor, but I didn’t know just how hard he played. Raymond (Felton) has been a surprise too, not as much for his playing abilities as his leadership qualities.”
Knight believes that Harrington’s dedication to the game will be solid inspiration for the rookies, and that his presence in the locker room and on the court is vital to the team’s success this season.
“He’s a work horse, and that’s what our team is,” Knight said. “We work hard, and he is the epitome of working hard. He gives us that added toughness in the post and that added rebounding strength that we need. He brings nothing but positive things to the Bobcats.”
This is just what we needed, an experienced guy to come in and be a mentor to our young guys.