Hello Bobcats fans! How many of you are new to the Bobcats family? I have to ask that because after the first game that the Bobcats played in the Summer League, it would be hard not to become interested in how a team that finished with the worst win percentage ever, blew out a team by over 30 points. Now, I know all of the arguments that everyone has to share with us. Those would include that the bulk of our starters are in the Summer League, and other teams have 1st and 2nd year players and guys wanting to make their respective teams’ rosters. Well, the bulk of our starters are, in fact, 1st or 2nd year players. Kemba and Biz are fresh off of a shortened season. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor are our draft picks for this year. Byron Mullens might as well be called a 2nd year guy, considering he was trapped on a bench full of big men his first season in OKC. Corey Higgins should not be on our NBA team this year, but I’m really not sure what is going to happen there, so we will see. We aren’t going to do recaps of these Summer League games, but I think I need to share some points with the Bobcats family, because I fully believe that these first 2 games have shown what sort of culture is being built down on Trade Street. Take the jump, and follow me…It’s time to meet the New and Improved Bobcats.
So, how many fans were suffering Bobcats Basketball withdrawals so bad that they sat and watched the first Summer League game that we played? I know I did. I wasn’t going to miss it for the world. Let me just say I had many a butterfly in my belly as the game tipped off. I watched both sides shake off first game jitters. I know that these guys play ball for a living (or at least most hope that they will), but first game jitters happen. I’m not going to give a play-by-play, or even share final scores or who scored the most points. I just want you to get the feel of what that first game was like. The announcers kept making snide remarks, referring to last season, wanting to see last year’s team play this Summer League team, other off color statements. Now for the first few minutes, I get it. The play was sloppy, and Mully was launching 3-point shots like they were layups…but they were not going in. I have to hand it to him though; there was no hesitation. There was no look as though he was questioning whether or not to take the shot. He just took it and worked on getting into an offensive rhythm. Kemba drove the lane, MKG drove the land. You got to see a full court press and a 1-1-3 defense. The tempo was exhausting. You got to see 10 different players play in the first quarter. Coach Dunlap promised that very thing. The result was an attack, attack, attack team on the floor that made MKG look like the exact correct pick for Charlotte and had even me eating my words in regards to even suggesting that we should have drafted Thomas Robinson. When a team is up by nearly 30 points at the end of the 3rd, and they have 91 points on the board, you know something has changed. I would even venture that we didn’t score 91 points in 5 games last season (If someone wants to go check that, they can). We finished the game in a blowout fashion. Now, I know you’re leaning on that crutch that we had so many on the floor that were starters, so a blowout was what we should have seen. Just keep in mind that our starters are rookies and year 1 and year 2 guys. Also, keep in mind that our 1st round pick and 2nd round pick were running circles around their opponents. Finally, keep in mind that we were subbing everyone in and out every quarter. When the “second unit” was in, the Kings weren’t exactly catching up. This game had tons of excitement. If last season had you in the dumps, this was the pick-me-up game of the century. It had me ready to watch the next game that was not played until Sunday night. Now, early in this first game on Friday, MKG landed awkwardly, and limped for a bit, but then went on to play like there was nothing wrong, so I figured that he’d be a little sore, but we’d see him again.
Go ahead and fast forward to Sunday’s game. We are to play the Cleveland Cavaliers who feature Kyrie Irving and company. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t get to see an Irving vs. Walker showdown because Irving broke his hand in a practice and would not be available. On the other side of the coin, in order to play it safe, MKG was not allowed to play either due to soreness in his knee. This is completely understandable. I did not get to watch this game as I was busy with Church events, but I did take a peek on my computer as the 3rd quarter was getting underway. From checking the box score and looking through all of the stats, it appeared that the Bobcats of old might have returned. They had scored a total of 8 points in the first and not many more in the second. I proceeded to work on my other projects, and I went back to check the score. Come to find out, we were well into the 4th quarter; however, some stellar, shut-down defense had held Cleveland in check. There was actually a comeback mounting, without our top pick from this year on the floor. Kemba stepped up and took the ball to the rack, and with the team on his back, our new leader carried us on to a victory by 4.
Now I know I’m not sharing lots of details, but hopefully you are seeing the point I am trying to make. These Bobcats are not the lethargic kittens from last year. The players may be the same, but their hearts have been pricked by Coach Dunlap. They have all been vaccinated with the Dunlap gene. All are working hard, improving daily, and they proved in 2 games that they can run all over you and score you out of the gym, or, if the shots aren’t falling, they can crank up the defense, and our new team leader can steer us into a victory. Now, you’re going to read from the “experts” that there was just no reason we should have won that second game. They will write it off as poor shooting by the Cavs, blind luck, or back to the “starters” argument. Folks, it is plain and simple. Bobcats basketball has turned the corner in a big way. The rebuild is in full swing. The building blocks are in place and we’re starting to put things together. We have a new Coach in Mike Dunlap. We have 2 new drafted players in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor. These 2 guys are already drawing comparisons to Gerald Wallace and Dell Curry/Jared Dudley respectively. We have new uniforms with a new color scheme. Bobcats Basketball is alive and well in Charlotte, folks. Embrace these Bobcats. It would appear that our youth have embraced the culture change. For those of you that don’t know what that culture is, let me share it in a few words:
Attack, Attack, Attack
Do you need a 2012 Bobcats slogan?
Hmm…how about something like, “Stand Strong, Stand United & Attack”
See where I’m going? We have a culture being engraved down on Trade Street. That culture is one that every Bobcat fan should be proud of. It is one that we should all stand behind and applaud. I know I’m proud of these guys and we’re only 2 games into Summer League. I can’t wait to see the full team together. With the additions of Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions and Brendan Haywood, I believe we’re going to see something incredible happen this year. Hold on tight Bobcats fans. This year is going to be something special…something great…something to pounce on. Pounce on the Bobcats bandwagon because this is going to be an awesome and fun ride…reserve your seats now because with every win, the culture will grow stronger, and so will fan support. I can’t wait!