When you think of the Charlotte Bobcats over the last two to three years what do you think of? Does 7- 59 ring a bell? What about 21-61? Yup, those were the Bobcats’ records over the last two years. The team has been synonymous with losing. Not only did they lose–they lost big. They had multiple double-digit losing streaks, including a 23-game skid during the lockout season. All that losing takes a toll on players and helps a develops a culture where losing is acceptable. Earlier this week Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd said his team was used to losing. Well, welcome to the world of the Charlotte Bobcats–at least until this year.
A new culture has been developed with the help of new coach Steve Clifford. In the past the Bobcats easily fell into the “here we go again” attitude. They went into games expecting to lose–not at all what you want from a young squad. The Bobcats took steps into changing the losing culture. They began to draft winners–players that were not used to losing. Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd Gilcherst were NCAA champions while Cody Zeller played for the No. 1 team in nation.
Walker’s NCAA championship type leadership is translating to the NBA. Not only is the 23-year-old on a career-high pace for points, but he is also displaying his best leadership to date. That leadership was put to the test against the Milwaukee Bucks. Kemba and the Bobcats could have easily called it a day when facing a 18-point first-half deficit. Kemba was having none of it. Walker and the Bobcats turned it up in the fourth quarter to help erase a double digit Milwaukee lead. To say it was just Kemba is also highly misleading. Veteran Al Jefferson has been instrumental not only on the court, but also off it. His 26 points and nine rebounds along with Kemba’s near triple-double helped the Bobcats squeeze by the Bucks 111-110 in overtime.
Jefferson came in and said he came to Charlotte to win. Kind of a weird statement to make, but he has been a man of his word. He has been a strong veteran presence in the locker room. It’s time to ramp up expectations in Charlotte. Don’t be surprised when you hear their name around playoff time.