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Bobcats will not contend in 2005

The NBA is full of parody and the same thing happens every season. Not so fast!

This year, the NBA will be going through re-alignment. The NFL, NHL and MLB have all experienced this over the last 12 years, all for the same reason: Expansion.

This year’s sports whipping boys are the Charlotte Bobcats. The team was formed thanks to the quick departure of the Charlotte Hornets to New Orleans (and now, the Western Conference). The team’s management forced the city to build the team a new downtown arena that they could call their own. The fans were then forced to vote on whether they should have to help pay for the facility through taxes. Surprisingly, they voted no, and the Hornets were bound for the Big Easy.

Charlotte fans were without the Hornets for less than a month (The next season hadn’t even started yet!) when, after yet another arena taxing plan was voted on by the city. It passed, and Charlotte was awarded another franchise.

The Hornets began play on Nov. 4th, 1988, losing 133-93 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The rebounded, and went 20-62, a good record for an NBA expansion franchise. Sadly, both the experts and myself feel that the Bobcats will be lucky if they can win 10-15 games in the upcoming season. The talent is just not there.

Just so you know, I am not saying that this team will not contend in the future. I’m saying that it will take a little longer than other expansion teams. The Toronto Raptors were in the NBA Playoffs for the first time in 2000, in just their 5th season since the league’s previous expansion, which took place during the 1995-96 campaign.

Another, better example of this is the other team that played in Charlotte. The Hornets, as I already mentioned, finished 20-62 in their first NBA season. They gradually improved, and finished the 1992-93 season with a 44-38 record, and their first playoff berth. The would go on to defeat the Boston Celtics in four games before falling to the New York Knicks in five. Since then, the Hornets have not finished under .500, and have made the playoffs in eight of the past eleven years (including their two seasons in New Orleans).

There are several obvious reasons that the inaugural season of the Charlotte Bobcats will be a humbled learning experience. The first is that they are, after all, an expansion team. The team is beginning play with a bunch of players that have never played together until the preseason opener on October 13th.

The second reason is history. The expansion team that made it to the postseason the quickest was the Miami Heat, as they made the playoffs in 1992, their fourth season in existence. After that comes the aforementioned Hornets and Raptors, who made it after their fifth year, and the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies, who made the playoffs for the first time last season (their ninth). Going back even further, the Orlando Magic made the playoffs for the first time in 1994, their sixth season, while the Minnesota Timberwolves first qualified in 1997, their ninth year.

The last expansion before 1988 came in 1980 when the Dallas Mavericks became the 23rd team in the National Basketball Association.

The third, final, and most obvious and important reason that the Bobcats will be bad, even for an expansion team, is their lack of talent. I looked at the current roster just recently. I could identify maybe eight of the players on the list. And I would know, for I have the knowledge. When it comes to sports, I am all-knowing. All right, I’ll stop now. I wouldn’t want to start bragging or anything.

I’m serious! Think about it. There’s Emeka Okafor, the former star center from the 2004 National Champion UConn Huskies. Then there’s, uhh, let me think…

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