Bobcats Chronicles

How a young NBA franchise gets it going

Ready for a Rivalry

Posted by Sup on January 22, 2010

My stepson is a huge Carolina Panthers fan. He eats, sleeps and breathes football, so much so that he creates entire football games with his own rosters in his head. I have slowly been working him into a like, if not love for basketball in general, and the Bobcats in particular. The vehicle has been video games: NBA 2K9 is high in his PS3 gameplay rotation. I’m so proud.

He asked me a few weeks ago who were the Bobcats’ rival. I was not completely without an answer, and I was able to say with a modicum of confidence that they don’t have a rival. Sure, the closest NBA team is the Atlanta Hawks, much like the Panthers are the natural geographic rival of the Atlanta Falcons. But that is essentially the end of the similarity.

I grew up in the Chicago area, and am well versed in rivalry. During the Jordan Era, nothingncame close to the Bulls and Pistons. The Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers rivalry has no equal in professional sports, save Yankees-Red Sox. The Cubs-White Sox is as bitter as Duke-North Carolina. My favorite Cubs-Sox rivalry story: when the Cubs were playing the Florida Marlins in the infamous 2003 “Bartman” National League Championship Series, patrons at a South Side bar would ring a bell and cheer every time the Marlins plated a run against the evil boys in blue. That, friends, is hate for hate’s sake.

The Bobcats don’t inspire hate from anyone, except the hardcore “I’ll NEVER watch THAT team in THAT arena” crowd. In the five years previous years of it’s existence, they have not made anyone get excited to defeat them, even in the division. Given all that, wouldn’t you be happy to have tonight be the start of a real division rivalry with the Hawks?

It is going to take more than a midseason matchup between two division opponents to make a rivalry. Rivalries come from meaningful clashes in the post season and bad blood. We don’t have the postseason to lean on, but we do have the perfect candidate to create some bad blood.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, Stephen Jackson. [picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=stephen+jackson&iid=7506215″ src=”c/a/3/a/Charlotte_Bobcats_Stephen_bbf0.JPG?adImageId=9383890&imageId=7506215″ width=”234″ height=”154″ /]He gets to guard the Hawks’ best player, Joe Johnson. He’s a feisty defender, long and strong enough to hold his own against Johnson and Marvin Williams if necessary. And he is just vocal enough now to get something going if he looks like he or his team has been wronged.

Now I don’t like fights in basketball games…who does? But I do like a little juice in the games, and the Bobcats most recent wins (with the exception of the Kings come from ahead victory) were bloodless, cold and efficient. Wouldn’t you like to see a little disagreement, a little spice in this one, to generate some interest in a game between two teams whose rivalry is yet to bloom? I know I would.

Maybe I am moving a head too quickly on this. The Bobcats have never been .500 this late in the season, and the Hawks are still a team on the rise, not yet on par with any of the championship contenders in the East. And I probably should be more interested in getting more people into the seats at the Cable Box than getting people booing the team on the road. But if you have ever experienced what a real rivalry feels like, why wouldn’t you want this for the Bobcats?

Expected Starting Lineups

Charlotte Bobcats (21-19) Atlanta Hawks (27-14)
PG – Raymond Felton PG – Mike Bibby
SG – Stephen Jackson SG – Joe Johnson
SF – Gerald Wallace SF – Marvin Williams
PF – Boris Diaw PF – Josh Smith
C – Nazr Mohammed C – Al Horford
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