Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bobcats Bandwagon Seats: Get 'em while they're Hot

Finally, I’m doing it. I’m gonna jump on a bandwagon before ESPN can beat me to it (which always results in the rest of the free world jumping on said bandwagon). I’m gonna be the first one, and all my fine-looking readers can join me while there’s still room.

I desperately want the Charlotte Bobcats to make the NBA postseason.

Any way, any how. Doesn’t matter. Just make it happen. I want the Bobcats in the playoffs for the first time in its franchise.

Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Charlotte Bobcats playoff tickets now on sale! Order now!

Almost sounds like “Colorado Rockies: National League Champions” or “Arizona Cardinals: NFC Champions”. Which sort of illustrates my point, and Kevin Garnett’s: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

(By the way, I'm damn well aware those first two links are one and the same. I just can't get enough of that picture. No disrespect to the Cardinals. Humor me. The KG one is cool too.)

(Doo doo doo. Moving along...)

But honestly, the Bobcats aren’t as crappy as you might think. First off, from a long-term point of view, they’re the picture of progress. Their win total in each of the franchise's five years of existence are as follows, starting with 2004-05: 18, 26, 33, 32, 34. The 34 represents this season's mark (34-41), as Charlotte has already set a franchise record with seven games left.

Also consider, the Bobcats finished 24 games out of the Eastern Conference playoffs their first season. Since then, they’ve cut that total in succession to 14, 7 and 5 games last year. Right now, Charlotte sits 1.5 games out of Chicago’s eighth spot. Again, progress is the operative word here.

This ain't smoke and mirrors, people. Just look at Charlotte’s well-balanced and talented lineup. Charlotte? Talented? You betcha.

Larry Brown’s credentials as a coach speak for themselves, and Brown’s got a solid team leader and go-to scorer in Gerald Wallace (16.9 points a game); an able point guard with Raymond Felton (13.7 and 6.8 assists) backed up by Texas’ very own D.J. Augustin; very good big men in Emeka Okafor and Boris Diaw, with an experienced backup in Juwan Howard there to guide them; and solid-sometimes-deadly shooters with Raja Bell and Vladamir Radmanovic.

Wallace, Felton, Okafor, Diaw, Bell, Augustin, Radmanovic, Howard. That sounds like a better overall team than past playoff teams like the ’08 Sixers (AI 2.0 and Andre Miller as the only players who would get minutes for Charlotte this year), the ’06 Bucks (needed a out-of-his-mind shooting year from Michael Redd just to stumble in), or the ’05 Grizz (starting point guard: Jason Williams. ‘Nuff said), to name a few.

But you know what I love most about this team? It’s the frisky thought of seeing the Kitties play powerful Cleveland in the first round. Charlotte’s got a smart coach, talented young players, star power (read: MJ and Nelly), a nice home record of 22-17, the ability to beat upper-echelon teams (Lakers twice, Boston, Atlanta, Utah and Portland) and most importantly, fans from a basketball-crazy state that would turn Time Warner Cable Arena into an absolute frenzy for playoff games. Is that not everything you want out of an eighth seed? I think the Cavs are awesome, just awesome…but I don’t think I’d be rushing to bet my house that Cleveland gets out of a Bobcats series alive. Nothing against Cleveland and its tortured fan base, but the sheer thought of 82 brilliant games by a resurgent Cavs franchise crashing down in about a week and a half has to excite any red-blooded sports fan.

The Bobcats actually swept the Lakers this year, and just tonight took the Celtics to double OT in their own building on the business end of a back-to-back after beating the Kobes last night. It’s not a cakewalk schedule ahead to finish out (five of seven on the road), but remaining games against Philly, Detroit and Chicago (6-7-8 in the East) give Charlotte a small measure of holding its own destiny.

So I’m not waiting for ESPN to build up hype for this previously-listless team like it did in ’07 for the Rox or in ’08 for ‘Zona. The ’09 ‘Cats bandwagon is officially open for business.

Matter of fact, on second thought, I ain’t jumping on the bandwagon. No, sir.

I’m driving the damn thing.


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