Friday Night Lights
Tonight is a big night for Charlotte sports. The Charlotte Bobcats kick off their fourth season at home against the Milwaukee Bucks. Then there’s the biggest rivalry in town as the Independence Patriots and Butler Bulldogs face off at Memorial Stadium. Both games will be taking place surrounded by a little controversy.
By now you should have read our feature in this month’s issue on the Bobcats (“Standing in the Shadows,” by Steve Goldberg). If not, what are you waiting on? The team’s bigwigs had a lot to say in Goldberg’s story about the challenges they face and the work they’re putting in to make the franchise a success. Tonight’s game should be an indication. Will the team win? Will fans fill the stands? I’ll be there and will keep you posted.
Over the last couple of days, I read news stories about how the Bobcats and Emeka Okafor were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension before Wednesday’s NBA deadline. The Charlotte Observer reports today that, according to one of its sources, the team offered Okafor a contract worth nearly $13 million a year. I would’ve taken it! But I’m not the best player on the team either. Despite people in the organization, including Michael Jordan, saying for months that they wanted to get a deal done as soon as possible, it didn’t happen. As a result, Okafor will become a restricted free agent in July. He says he wants to stay in Charlotte and right now he’s just focusing on tonight’s game.
The Patriots, on the other hand, are dealing with an issue that can’t be put off. Head coach Tom Knotts, who led the high school football powerhouse to an incredible 109-game win streak that ended two months ago, has been suspended for tonight’s big game with Butler. Knotts allegedly had an altercation last night with the father of one of the players on his junior varsity team (which lost to Butler 15-14, snapping their 70-plus-game win streak). The incident is still under investigation. But Knotts won’t be allowed to coach or even attend tonight’s game.
Anyone who has ever played or is a fan of sports knows that it’s what happens on the court and on the field that determines the outcome of a game. Let’s hope that our athletes will be able to keep their focus.