I was fortunate to live in Charlotte in the heyday of the Hornets. When Bogues, Mourning, and granmama were dishing, dunking and dominating the paint. Attending those games are some of my most fond memories while living in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. That Hornets team was exciting; lots of big personalities coupled with big time talent. Of course this team was not always so talented. There was a process the team went through to attain that success. A slow, painful process.
The Hornets inaugural season was less than stellar, the team went 20-62. However there was excitement and anticipation for every home game. The Hornets sold out every home game that 1st season. The team was led by the Polish point producing Kelly Tripucka. The eagle eyed, sharp shooting Tripucka led the team in scoring average with 22.6 points per game. Additionally he scored 40 or more points 3 times that 1st season.
The situation Michael Jordan finds himself in is similar to having an expansion team. Jordan is trying to generate excitement and create a buzz around this team. The disappointment of the Carolina Panthers this season paired with the early season success of the Bobcats (or Cats, the adopted moniker) has helped to establish that buzz this season. Last years version of the Bobcats won a contemptible 7 games in a strike shortened season. Expectations are tempered for this season to say the least. With this early season success,(considering last season’s record), Jordan may be able to build on the region’s fanbase and develop that frenzy the Hornets had in their heyday.
Talent and name recognition are 2 things missing on this team. The organization is taking the necessary steps to rectify both those dilemmas. Jordan undoubtedly deserved the #1 pick in this season’s draft. The Bobcats record last season earned (hate to use that word, 7 wins should not “earn” you anything) the 1st pick. Unquestionably the Bobcats would have selected Anthony Davis. Ironically, the 1st pick went to the New Orleans Hornets courtesy of NBA’s “lottery” style draft positioning system. So Michael Jordan settled for the 2nd overall pick. He used the pick to draft Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a teammate of Davis at the university of Kentucky.
Gilchrist is a good player with a skill set that could be quantified by the term “jack of all trades”. He is raw with prodigious upside because of his size and his relentless, physical style of play. He is the kind of player every team needs when building a winner. Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions have taken over the role of scoring while Gilchrist has led the team in blocks per game along with 6 rebounds per game. To go along with 11 points per game, he is making his presence felt at both ends of the court, and he has his name all over the stats book.
The coaching and effort we have seen from this team so far is winning over fans. It is causing a stir in and around the Charlotte area. I live in Charleston and I have seen some of this excitement extending down to the Lowcountry part of South Carolina. When this team begins competing with the Miami’s and Lakers then Charlotte and surrounding areas will really embrace this team. I see that day coming soon. The days of Mugsy, Zo, and LJ seem like they were eons ago but he organization is moving in the right direction and the city and surrounding regions have taken notice. Additionally if the organization is able to re-acquire the Hornets nickname from New Orleans, I suspect the impact will be significant. There will be a run on Charlotte Hornets memorabilia, and then we’ll really see expansion of the fan base. Kudos to you Mr. Jordan and I wish you much continued success.
Follow me on Twitter @Joe Riollano