This year has been one of excruciating ups and downs for Carolina sports fans. Since the dawn of 2016, no state has experienced such highs and lows while cheering on their hometown heroes. Just last February, the Carolina Panthers were within fingertips of putting together the perfect season, losing only one game in the regular season and just one game in the postseason: the Super Bowl. While no one had expected the year they received from the Carolina Panthers, once the team reached the big game, almost everyone thought The Old North State would come home with a championship. Unfortunately for both the Carolina Panthers and their fans alike, they walked away empty handed.
A similar fate has been seen recently when our sister school, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, squared off against the Villanova Wildcats in the Men’s College Basketball National Championship. With this being the starting seniors Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson’s last game of their UNC Careers, the team was hungry for a title before starting the rebuilding process. The team was poised for success and ready to send their seniors off into the sunset when their dreams came crashing down by the Wildcats Forward Kris Jenkins, as he hit a deep three as time expired to win the game.
Going into April of 2016, North Carolina is 0-2 in National Championships in the year. The teams competing bring soaring feelings of happiness, joy, and communion as they fight their way through the season, but have left fans broken down and wanting more after competing on the big stage. While there is a bad taste in the mouth of Carolina sports fans, there is still hope.
As the regular season of the NBA comes to a close, North Carolina’s own Charlotte Hornets have put themselves in a position to compete in the playoffs and attempt to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Currently the sixth of eight seeds entering the playoffs, The Hornets have the ability to jump to the third or fourth seed with wins in their last three games.
The Hornets success has come from key acquisitions at the beginning and middle of the season. They acquired Jeremy Lin, Nic Batum, and Tyler Hansbrough at the start of the season and later traded Forward P.J. Hairston to the Memphis Grizzlies to receive Guard Courtney Lee. These players have all become pivotal in the Hornets lineup and became even more important when former star Michael Kidd-Gilchrest suffered a torn labrum that has kept him sidelined the entire season.
Another huge factor in their success this season is due to their standout point guard, Kemba Walker, from the University of Connecticut. After averaging 17 or less points for the past four years in Charlotte, Kemba is now bolstering an average of 21 plus points a game while also being able to increase his rebound, block, and steal averages for the year. If he continues this route, Kemba will bolster career highs in all these stat lines.
After being snubbed for consideration in the All Star Game, it seems Kemba has played as if he has something to prove. Since the all-star break, Kemba is one of two players averaging 25 points and 6 assists while shooting at least 49% from the field. This improvement in scoring has come from what seems to be a more confident stroke from the three point line, as Kemba is making 42.6% of his attempted threes since the all-star break.
The big message here is that while Carolina fans have been victims of turmoil in championship games, there is still hope as they get one last chance before the 2015-2016 seasons come to a close. This leaves the responsibility on both the Charlotte Hornets and the Carolina sports fans to rally together and put forth the greatest effort possible to bring a championship title home to the Queen City.