It's not uncommon to hear politicians say, "I support our troops, but not the war." It's with this mantra in mind that I now reach out to my fellow Charlotteans and Bobcat fans. We should back our team, even if we don't support the owner. Some people are not happy about how the way the team ended up in the Queen City, but the players played no role in that and should not be held accountable. Not only are the Bobcats the lone major league franchise that bears the name of our beautiful city, but they're a team composed of quality young men.
As fans, we long for "good guys" to root for, but annually we've ignored the ones in our backyard. The team boasts two academic All-Americans: fresh face DJ Augustin and the face of the franchise, Emeka Okafor. The leader of our team, Jason Richardson, has been described as, "the noblest Warrior," and the former dunk champion has worked tirelessly to evolve into a complete player. There's little doubt that he will take on Larry Brown's challenge to become a better defender with the same vigor. The roster boasts a young man, Jared Dudley, who was not recruited out of high school, but through persevearance went on to earn ACC player of the year honors, despite not being the most athletic player, even on his own team. Team captain Gerald Wallace has earned the nickname, "Crash" by playing with reckless abandon, a trait rare amongst stars in the NBA. Any one of these guys has the make-up to become a fan favorite and in Richardson's case, he was with Golden State. As much as there is not to like about the front office, there's just as much to like on the floor.
Some may say, "they're nice guys, but if the team doesn't win, so what?" The wins will come. Panthers players have noted the difference that the home crowd makes and for the Bobcats it should be no different. Fans need to understand the season is going to start slow. The Bobcats have a tough schedule early on, but as they become more comfortable with the demands of their new Hall of Fame coach, who couldn't be more different from his predecessor, they have the heart and the ability to make a playoff run. Seriously.
Bob Johnson is a tough owner to
love like. He's chosen to not embrace our city, and has made countless choices with everything but basketball in mind. The good news is he appears to be looking to sell, regardless of what he says. Some are still upset about paying for the new arena, but we're one of only 29 cities in the United States with multiple pro sports franchises and that serves as a point of civic pride. Many fans use words such as "we" and "our" when referring to our other team, the Panthers, well the Bobcats are our team too and we should embrace them as such. I don't like the ownership, but I support our team, and I encourage everyone to do the same.