The NBA is an interesting professional athletic organization.
In the NFL, MLB, NHL and MLS, you can typically get by without having a major franchise player. Certainly, talent is required for success, but the NBA is perhaps the league most dependent on superstar talent for success.
The Charlotte Bobcats have never had superstar talent. They've had good talent in guys like Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson who were able to lead the team to its lone playoff appearance.
But up to this point in this franchise's decade-long history, they've never had a superstar, and they've never had coaching stability.
When Michael Jordan bought the team, he knew this. He knew the team he had bought was built to be average. Maybe a couple of sustainable low-seed playoff appearances with guys like Wallace and Jackson on the team.
But he wanted more. He wanted a team that could actually compete with the best and win.
Jordan's tenure as owner has been tumultuous, to put it lightly. But lately, Jordan has seemed to figure things out.
Instead of running everything within the organization, from hires to player acquisition and development, he has finally learned that delegation is the best way to lead a team.
And instead of delegating to yes-men who answer Jordan's every whim, he brought in Rich Cho and relinquished player acquisition and development, along with making coaching hires.
Sure, he has the final say, but it's Cho who is the king of team development now. This was a significant step for Jordan as an owner and a sign that he really is in it to win.
This offseason has been very good for the Charlotte franchise so far. The firing of Mike Dunlap was unexpected but warranted, as he clearly was not getting the job done in terms of development. The players didn't like him, his zone defense was a complete failure and his player rotations were horrible.
Then came the announcement that the Bobcats, after a year of conjecture, will officially be renaming themselves the Hornets at the start of the 2014-15 season.
This was a move that not only signaled the fact that Jordan is listening to his fans, but that he's truly trying to recreate the atmosphere he loved when he played in Charlotte in the '90s.
And now, the hiring of Steve Clifford as head coach of the team. Clifford is probably the best head coaching hire in Bobcats' history.
Larry Brown and Paul Silas were both great coaches, but they were clearly at the end of their rope and unprepared to build a team from scratch.
Clifford has been praised by both Van Gundy brothers as a defensive-minded guy with excellent player development talent. In his final four years in Orlando, the Magic were a top 10 defensive squad.
He's worked with both Van Gundy brothers (Jeff in Houston and Stan in Orlando), and then under Mike Brown and Mike D'Antoni in Los Angeles.
Along with all of the pedigree, Clifford is also expected to bring in a qualified assistant coaching staff, including Patrick Ewing.
Ewing coming to Charlotte to reunite with good friend Michael Jordan is an awesome story, but what's even more exciting is the impact Ewing will have on the frontcourt, in particular Bismack Biyombo.
Under Ewing and Clifford's tutelage, it's very likely Biz finally breaks out of his shell and gives the Bobcats a double-double per night, along with three blocked shots every game.
Clifford will also be coaching the fourth overall pick in this year's draft (barring any trades that give or take picks away), and it's going to be exciting to see what he can do with potential picks like Ben McLemore, Anthony Bennett and Victor Oladipo.
It's unlikely that the Bobcats will be very active in free agency this season, aside from hopefully retaining Gerald Henderson in his restricted free-agency year and re-signing Josh McRoberts as an unrestricted free agent.
The Bobcats are going to want to take one more year to develop before they make their move next season. With a potential top-three pick in the 2014 draft, two other possible picks via the Portland Trail Blazers and the Detroit Pistons and a ton of cap room, the Bobcats look to evolve into the Hornets in grand style.
Michael Jordan and his people are doing everything right at this moment in time. While they still won't be a great team in 2013-14, it's going to be fun to watch the young core continue to improve.
It's going to be fun to think about 2014 and what the future holds for Charlotte.
They have as much, or more, to look forward to than any other franchise in the NBA. A great general manager, an owner who is finally figuring things out, a great coaching staff, a great young core that is going to continue to grow and hopefully a few big free-agent signings.
Don't be surprised if the Charlotte Hornets become playoff favorites for the 2014-15 season.
Maybe then the joke "Charlotte has fans?" will finally disappear. It wasn't funny two years ago, it's not funny now.
Jump on the bandwagon before it takes off.
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