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Michael Jordan doesn't just own a winning smile. He owns the Charlotte Hornets.
The Carolina Panthers aren't the only pro team in Charlotte, of course.
In addition to the popular NFL team, the NBA's Charlotte Hornets, formerly the Bobcats, are owned by Michael Jordan. With a nucleus that includes point guard Kemba Walker, center Al Jefferson and free-agent signee Lance Stephenson, the Hornets are gaining in popularity because of the recent name change that resonates with the locals and their roster improvements.
But that's not all.
In Raleigh, the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes share a home with the North Carolina State basketball team. And in nearby Durham and Chapel Hill, within 11 miles of each other down U.S. 15-501, you have Duke and North Carolina.
The college basketball in the area, which also includes Davidson in the Charlotte area, is nothing short of phenomenal—and, on occasion, the same schools that battle in basketball play some pretty good football, too (see: Duke last year).
There also is NASCAR, and a real passion for it that may be lacking in other areas that have huge tracks like Charlotte Motor Speedway.
In addition to the 1.5-mile track where NASCAR races are held are a state-of-the-art NHRA drag strip and even a small dirt track—all part of the same complex. And the NASCAR Hall of Fame in what the locals call "uptown Charlotte" is a must-see for any race fan.
What the area lacks is obvious: Major League Baseball. But in Charlotte, the Triple-A Knights just opened a beautiful, state-of-the-art minor league stadium. And much of the classic baseball movie Bull Durham was filmed in Durham, which is worth some points.
All in all, it's a pretty solid cross-section of pro and college teams to follow year-round.