January 29, 2010
I guess I'm one of the select few North Carolinians that has fully embraced our NBA franchise, the Charlotte Bobcats.
I was a Hornets fan since I ballboyed a game they played against the Jazz in the mid-90s (Karl Malone is the nicest athlete I've ever met, by the way). I was extremely bitter when George Shinn moved the team to New Orleans, but was excited that the NBA was committed to keeping a franchise in Charlotte.
The "Bobs," as I like to call them, have been around since 2004, but have struggled their entire existence — until this year. Managing partner Michael Jordan finally brought in a real coach last season — Hall of Famer Larry Brown — and the team has bought into his "defense first" system. And after some pitiful offense in the first few weeks of this campaign, this team has figured out how to score.
A lot of credit has to go to Jordan, who has been maligned as an NBA executive. His trade to bring in Stephen Jackson was a great move, as "Jack" has reignited his career and developed into another go-to scorer, along with Gerald Wallace. He's also taken the pressure off of Raymond Felton and Boris Diaw, who have both improved since his arrival. Nazr Mohammed has been solid, too.
Speaking of Wallace, he became the Bobcats' first All-Star selection Thursday. In my opinion, there's no one more deserving. As the Charlotte Observer story points out, he's the last holdover from the inaugural Bobcats squad. More importantly, while not the most talented player in the league, no one plays harder that GW. He's the epitome of a leader.
As of right now, the team is 22-22, the latest in the season they've been at .500. If the season ended today, they'd finish 8th in the Eastern Conference and would be in the playoffs. Just last week, they crept up as high as the 5th seed.
There's still a lot of work to do. While the Bobs have one of the best home records in the Association, they're atrocious on the road. They picked up a nice OT win over Phoenix the other night, but they've got to continue to grind out road wins if they want a playoff berth.
Regardless of what happens, I haven't been this excited about the NBA in a long time. If you haven't seen a game, check them out. Unfortunately, tonight's game against the Warriors isn't on in Moore County, but most games can be found on Fox Sports Carolinas (Time Warner Channel 38, 272 for HD). Steve Martin and Dell Curry are a good commentary team, in my opinion.