Not since the days of Alonzo Mourning, Del Curry, Muggsy Bogues, and Larry Johnson has the city of Charlotte had a team of all-stars players to rally around and cheer on as they consistently make the playoffs. Sure the Panthers have had their years in the Delhomme/Fox era where they made it to the playoffs three times, and both teams, the Bobcats and the Panthers, have both had All-Star players in the past, Muhsin Muhammad, Gerald Wallace, Julius Peppers, and Tyson Chandler, but neither of the teams have accumulated a team with the caliber of players the ’92 to ’96 Charlotte Hornets had.
Granted the Hornets of the nineties claim to fame was upsetting the Celtics in the first round of the ’93 playoffs, and the Panthers have made to the Super Bowl and three Conference Championships in their short existence, but never the less, I believe the Hornets ’92 to ’96 rosters have been the best, depth wise, in the history of Charlotte sports, so keep that in mind.
My argument, and the basis of the article, is that the tides are turning for Charlotte sports, both in basketball and in football. There is a difference between the two however; the Bobcats need time to progress to their next playoff appearance, while the playoff appearance to mark the beginning of the new Panthers dynasty is quickly approaching.
The Panthers are facing very few pressing issues coming into the 2013 season, the Offensive Line, the Secondary, and the biggest issue being our salary cap. Besides that the Panthers have all the pieces for a successful playoff run. Cam Newton is figuring out the offensive scheme that Ron Rivera wants to run. Even with a new Offensive Coordinator, hopefully Norv Turner, Newton has adjusted to Rivera’s scheme, and ultimately Rivera gives the heads up on the Offensive Coordinator’s play style. We have a deep group of young receivers, most, if not all, are coming into their fourth year into the league, which will probably be the make or break year for most of the receivers, giving them incentive to produce. We also have two young defensive players to build our defense around, Luke Kuechly and Greg Hardy.
We are also taking steps to rebuild our front office, with the signing of new GM Dave Gettleman. Gettleman to me was a great pick, after being a part of some very successful New York Giants seasons, but we won’t know if he can produce until after a few draft classes, and NFL seasons. Keeping Ron Rivera is also an interesting choice for the Carolina Panthers as well. While I would have liked to seen another coach in his place, I have hope for the future of the Carolina Panthers. The Cleveland Browns hiring Rob Chudzinski as their head coach might have been a blessing in disguise for the Panthers coaching staff. The offense was very inconsistent throughout the entire season, and you can only blame the coaching staff for the mistakes of the offensive unit that has a ton of talent. It will be very interesting to see how the Panthers produce with a new Offensive Coordinator and the same Head Coach. Again I truly hope we pick up Norv Turner, he hasn’t officially signed to the Browns and he would be wise to sign with the Panthers if he wants to make the playoff, which everyone does.
I cannot continue writing an article about my favorite city coming into its own without mentioning my favorite NBA team very briefly. I’m predicting the Bobcats will have a very similar season to the ’92 Hornets. Two consecutive lottery picks, lots of cap room, and quite possibly a deep playoff run for the Charlotte Bobcats, something the Hornets have never done. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Bismack Biyombo, and Jeff Taylor are all staying in Charlotte, and hopefully Ben Gordon. All six of those players are fantastic talents, and great building blocks since all but two of those players are younger than twenty four. The rest of the players are expendable. Dunlap is a very underrated coach as well. He seems to get the best out of his players, and all of them have come out saying that they love him as a coach. So with quality young players, with ton of potential, the Charlotte Bobcats are definitely a team to look out for as future NBA title contenders.
So with the Panthers hopefully the becoming the premier team to beat in the NFC, and the Bobcats hopefully becoming a premier team in the own right, the professional teams of the great city of Charlotte are rewriting what people come to think about Charlotte, North Carolina. Its quite possible that Charlotte is reaching a pinnacle of sports in the South, and I must say, its a great time to live in Charlotte.