I was wrong about the Bobcats (AKA, why I love Charlotte) | CLT Blog
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I was wrong about the Bobcats (AKA, why I love Charlotte)

Posted on 26 Apr 2012 by Bobby DeMuro

The Charlotte Bobcats are bad. Historically bad. Like so many others, I’ve criticized their direction after bad trades, bad drafts, and worse management.

But today, I read this article in Grantland about the scene in Charlotte as the Bobcats attempt to, um, make history. The article’s not necessarily wrong, but it makes the Bobcats a punchline, their fans a spectacle, and the city of Charlotte just an ugly place on Interstate 85 south of Chapel Hill.

And that’s when it hit me.

I’ve been wrong in criticizing the Bobcats. Not because they’re good. They’re definitely terrible, but this isn’t about that. In fact, this isn’t even about the Bobcats.

I came to Charlotte in August 2004 for college. I enjoyed it so much, and never thought about moving anywhere else, that I’ve been here for nearly eight years.

By Charlotte standards, I’m almost a native. So many have come in the last three years, recent transplants eager to adopt the city but slow to change their cultural allegiances from homes in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cleveland, or Buffalo.

Charlotte is, perennially, a city in transition. Now that’s not a bad thing — but we haven’t really found an identity. Banking, sure. Until the market crashed. NASCAR, sure. Until that sport never took off nationally like everyone thought it would fifteen years ago.

I’m not saying the Bobcats are our identity — nor should they be. But I am saying that if we want a Charlotte that has a deep-rooted authenticity, like New York, Philadelphia, Boston, or Chicago, we have to own the Bobcats.

And it’s more than the Bobcats.

We have to own that I-485 might not get finished. Ever. We have to own that God-forsaken train that crosses Central Avenue and makes me late for everything in Plaza Midwood. Happens every time. We have to own that complicated, almost comical Knights uptown stadium issue with Jerry Reese’s injunctions.

We have to own the terrible unique traffic patterns on I-77 north of town, I-85 northeast of town, Independence Boulevard east of town, and whatever is going on at the Providence/Providence/Queens/Queens intersection in Myers Park. I still haven’t figured that one out.

Look, it’s very, very easy for the national media to criticize the Bobcats. After all, who’s going to step up and defend them? To listen to some folks in town, none of us want the NBA anyways; we’re too scarred by Shinn’s move a decade ago. And we don’t have the guts to push back on that message like they would in New York, or Boston, or Pittsburgh. So it becomes easy — almost infectious — to pick on the lowly Bobcats.

Beware, though. That attitude creeps. We start criticizing the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Whitewater Center, the proposed Charlotte Knights stadium uptown, the DNC, every public figure from both political parties. The list goes on.

I live in Charlotte. So it’s time to own Charlotte — Bobcats included. That doesn’t mean they (or other institutions in town) are free of criticism; in fact, it’s just the opposite. But that does mean it’s time to lay stakes down in my city, and own the place that I call home.

Charlotte’s not perfect. Here’s a fun fact: it will never be perfect. And another one: if you leave, the new city you live in won’t be perfect, either. But considering where we are, where we’ve come from, and what Charlotte represents, I’d say we’re doing a pretty good job.

I love Charlotte. I was wrong about the Bobcats. And I bet you were, too.


  1. Adam Butler 26 Apr 2012 at 5:24 PM

    NASCAR never took off nationally?

    • Bobby 26 Apr 2012 at 6:01 PM

      Not like I was told it would in the past 15 years, beat over the head with “this is the next big thing.” Have you seen the attendance numbers at races not-in-the-South?

    • Toney 26 Apr 2012 at 6:10 PM

      LOL. Nascar sucks. Not only is it worthless I don’t think Billy Ray and Bubba is necessarily a brand we even want to promote across the country as being “Charlotte.” Leave that to the knuckledraggers down in South Carolina, or up in Bristol Tenneginia. But no, nascar didn’t take off nationally. it’s irrelevant. sorry, denny hamlin.

  2. Ryne 26 Apr 2012 at 6:18 PM

    This is very self-aware. I love Charlotte, maybe this will get me with the Bobcats (and watch them tonight on national TV!). Great post. Could tell it’s from your heart and that you love this city. we need more like that.

  3. Leya 26 Apr 2012 at 6:31 PM

    You know how Atlanta’s is Forever I Love Atlanta? (FILA)? Well, FILC? Forever I love Charlotte? Doesn’t have the same ring.. ;-D

  4. Elaine 27 Apr 2012 at 11:39 AM

    the thing about the train on central avenue made me literally laugh out loud, because that’s happened to me several times, too. always when im in a hurry.

  5. Warren L. 27 Apr 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Great post!! I have loved the Bobcats since day one and it sure ain’t pretty right now but I can’t wait until they win and win and win! This is just like the 1998 panthers when they won their first game and then lost 15 straight and were in the doldrums. They came back ‚and the Bobcats will come back too!!

  6. banks 30 Apr 2012 at 6:58 PM

    Spoken like a true transplant. I’m sorry but, no, being here for less than a decade does *not* make you anything like a Charlotte native.

    This city loved and owned the Hornets, and we celebrated landing our first major sports franchise. That was back in THE 80’S, young sir. There are no scars from the team’s move; I regard the New Orleans team with absolutely zero emotion (p.s. there is existing sentiment to take the Hornets brand back after New Orleans renames the team, and I support that). The thing is, voters in this city rejected the prospect of building TWC arena, but we had it shoved down our throats anyway.

    You said it yourself–the Bobcats are not our identity. So if you’re gonna put stakes down, put stakes down. But let’s not embarass ourselves by falling for every boondoggle that comes along (looking at YOU, nascar holla fame).

    If the organization doesn’t show that they are serious about developing a legitimate product, then they may as well fold. I think it’s really DUMB to give your blind support to an entity that isn’t serious about its business. For all these reasons, I’ll never get Bobcats fans; it’s hard to take them for anything more than a joke.

    • Bobby 2 May 2012 at 9:37 AM

      I’m with you 100%, but you missed the biggest point of the post — Charlotte is full of transplants. I know I’m not a native (did you actually read this, or just skim?). But at some point, transplants have to own it here. Or this will forever be a city in transition.

    • Bobby 2 May 2012 at 9:39 AM

      Besides, what’s the alternative, brother? Keep living in the 80s, whining about the Hornets moving? We’re not getting them back. Even if we get the name back, that won’t change the organizational structure of the Bobcats. Come join us in 2012, the view’s nice!

  7. Jamaal 2 May 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Nice read, I have, I do, and always will love and support and claim the Bobcats (or maybe Hornets in the near future) as my team.

  8. Dorey 2 May 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Great job. You hit the nail on the head, Charlotte is NOT perfect, and the Bobcats are awful, but there our’s man. And you can complain about it, or live in the past about it, or you can embrace it and be passionate enough to see it and help it change for the better — just like everything else in Charlotte. You hit the nail on the head.