Last night the Bobcats made team history by locking up their first playoff spot in a 104-103 win against the New Orleans Hornets . The win was impressive one but it was who they did it against were the real story lies.
For those of you who can remember, The New Orleans Hornets were once called the Charlotte Hornets. The team began operations in 1988 and was the main attraction to a city that at the time did not have a major professional sports team. The honeymoon came to an end twelve years later when George Shinn, majority owner over the Hornets, express discontent over the arena.
The team soon moved down to New Orleans, but not before controversy over whether the city should fork over money for a new arena, luxury boxes, and hotels for the team. The differences between fans and George Shinn escalated, resulting in a drop in attendance and the team’s eventually moving to New Orleans in 2002.
Since the move the city of Charlotte has had a hard time accepting NBA basketball. Many older fans began to go back to their childhood allegiances; while younger fans adapted to the more popular picks with the Cavs and the Lakers leading the charge.
The city got a second chance with a professional team when the Bobcats moved into town in 2004. Since the creation of the team, many fans had a hard time accepting the team because of the bad experience with the first one. Not to mention that Bob Johnson, the Bobcats first owner, isolated his fan base with the creation of C-set. The channel was only available on Time Warner Cable and fans who had other TV packages could not see the team play unless they went to the arena to see them. That along with business failing to cooperate with ownership for partnership deals, led to the same discontent that folks had with the Hornets.
While the city was going through growing pains that a new franchise bring, the New Orleans Hornets were experiencing some success with Chris Paul, followed by several playoff appearances. This trend continue to happen for both teams with one having success and the other one experiencing failure.
Things began to change when coach Larry Brown became head coach in 2008. Slowly things turned around and some fans slowly came back. It started with following scores and checking in on the team when they were on TV after the C-set deal expired. The Bobcats had a small cult following growing.
At the start of this season the spotlight was on the Bobcats. Fans finally saw potential and some fans started to get upset when the team lost. For the first time people were interested in the product the Bobcats were displaying.
There were many highs and low s throughout the season, but the players and the city never stopped believing. The collection of hard work and fan support growing and building, led to the Bobcats victory over the Hornets last night. For the first time fans, players, coaches, and the new owner Michael Jordan can breath. No longer should they have to worry about fans saying “well the Hornets are winning.”
A new breeze and energy can be felt in the air of Charlotte’s sports scene. With the past out of the way, players and fans alike can move forward to the now hopeful future which has now become Bobcats' basketball.
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