Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bobcats Make Statement In Home Opener

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 11/01/2008 No comments
My South Carolina Gamecocks played the Tennessee Volunteers tonight. The game coverage started at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, which was also the time the coverage of the Charlotte Bobcats game started. The Bobcats played the Miami Heat for their season home opener. Because my Gamecocks were taking care of business, I was able to switch back and forth to watch a good bit of the Bobcats game. The Bobcats took care of business, too, outplaying the Heat in just about every area. But I'm not here to give a game recap.

The Bobcats, who went 0-8 in the preseason and lost their season opener Thursday by 17 points to the Cleveland Cavaliers, looked like a fundamentally good and well-coached team tonight. Kudos to head coach Larry Brown. It's far too early to make any predictions as to how the season will go because the Bobcats could easily have a season where sometimes we see the team that played today and sometimes we see the team that played Thursday.

But what was good to see, and hopefully we see more of, is Michael Jordan sitting on the team bench for the entire game. He didn't seem to say too much to the players and coaches during the game, but his presence said a lot. As part owner and managing member of basketball operations, aside from being MJ, he's the man in charge and things haven't gone well during the more than two years under his watch. Fans and critics have said often that they'd like to see Jordan at more games. He has responded by saying he doesn't want to be a distraction. He comes to the home opener and other select games throughout the season, but I don't ever recall him sitting with the team.

After the Bobcats 100-87 victory, Jordan was all smiles, shaking hands and patting on the back all of the players and coaches as they headed to the locker room. That has to mean a lot to the young players and new coaching staff. We'll see if it continues.

Majority owner Bob Johnson was at the game also, sitting in floor seats on the other side of the court. It was a positive sign to see the often-accused absentee owner there, too. He and his small entourage filled a few seats, but the entire arena wasn't full. It looked like maybe 90 percent capacity. That's great for most nights, but not opening night. The home opener should always be a sellout. The Bobcats' struggles to sell tickets have been well documented. The only cure will be for the team to win.

Jordan and Johnson will also have to work harder this year on winning over fans and corporate sponsors. Interest in the Bobcats, I feel, is at an all-time low. Jordan and Johnson will likely be in Charlotte most of the week. Jordan is receiving the Citizen of the Carolinas Award Thursday at the Charlotte Chamber's Annual Meeting. (I'll be there!)

The game was carried by SportSouth, as will most of the games this season. It's a product of the deal the Bobcats made last spring to get a better television package that extends their viewing audience, for which they gave Time Warner Cable naming rights of the arena to get out of the TWC television deal. I have DirecTV and it took me a while to find the game, which aired on "RSNa Overflow Alternate 650," some channel I never heard of.


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