The Charlotte Hornets need a home-court advantage

Charlotte Hornets Teal Towel. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Teal Towel. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

If the 2019-2020 NBA season does in fact end in the next few weeks, the Charlotte Hornets would have the league’s third-worst home record. That will need to change if the team wants to see success.

As with life, there is a need for balance in sports. Successful teams breed fans and a passionate fanbase can help build a successful team. This hasn’t been the case for the Charlotte Hornets who have neither on-court success nor a lot of fans in the seats.

There are plenty of reasons why this is a thing and it’s not a problem that is exclusive to the Hornets, by any stretch. For Charlotte, though, the reasons are somewhat unique and not just reserved for basketball.

To try and keep it succinct, Charlotte is home to a lot of people from all across the country who have moved here mostly for work-related reasons. It’s the second-largest banking city in the United States and as such, has attracted lots of transplants coming to live there for work or simply to enjoy a lower cost of living compared to some cities in other parts of the U.S.

For the Charlotte Hornets, their future could rest on whether the team can find a dedicated fanbase.

It’s not uncommon to see a Hornets game filled with plenty of jerseys supporting the other team and when you have a lot of residents from out of town, that makes sense. The worrisome part is that it creates an uphill battle for a franchise whose lack of on-court success is severely hurting any chance they have at building a dedicated base of fans.

It’s difficult to get people to support a struggling product and it’s even more difficult when that product isn’t your own. Sure, there are plenty of native Charlotteans still living in the greater Metropolitan area, but if all they know are the former Hornets or more recently, the Charlotte Bobcats, then the past or a poor replacement for that past is all they have.

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This isn’t even mentioning the fact that the Carolinas have historically been a college sports area, with the ACC dominating in collegiate basketball for years and more recently, in college football as well.

Then you have the relatively more successful Carolina Panthers of the NFL taking some of the Hornets’ spotlight, though maybe not as much now as they, too, look to be part of a rebuild.

It’s safe to say that the Charlotte Hornets have plenty to compete with and if you’re barely putting up a fight in terms of overall success, then finding an audience is a hard nut to crack.

So, what should fans do, then? Should they willingly spend their hard-earned money on a poor product, especially after what has transpired over the past few months? Right now, some fans may be chomping at the bit to go to a live NBA game, but after that, that fervor will surely settle down.

This places the onus on management and their handling of the team has been a mixed bag, to say the least. Many of the fans the team does have are still sore about losing Kemba Walker, the team’s all-time leading scorer.

Going even further back, nearly every fan that is left is steaming about having to pay Nicolas Batum another ungodly amount of money ($27 million, by the way) to score just 4 points a game next season.

Mitch Kupchak is going into his third offseason as Hornets GM and still has his work cut out for him, though that has obviously been stalled due to the current circumstances facing the entire world.

If the season does resume, albeit in an abbreviated form, as some are speculating, Charlotte will have a few chances to up their win total at home from just 10 games to something a little higher. Yet, none of that will really matter and some fans would prefer them to just lose out completely.

That’s not an admirable position in which to be and the players know this. Not a single player on that squad wants to be in the spot they’re in and try as they might, they do play to the best of their abilities, for the most part, that is.

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Unfortunately, it seems that the team will simply have to improve on the court to see some improvement off of it. I fully realize how unfeasible it is for a large number of fans to attend games and support their teams, whether it’s because of financial reasons, proximity to the arena, or simply due to time constraints.

That’s even harder when you know your team isn’t going to be competitive and most of the other fans are rooting against you, depending on who the opponent is. Simply put, this team isn’t going to get new fans into the seats without wins.

Perhaps this hiatus and the overall shape of the world right now will give people a renewed hunger for basketball that could help elevate the team’s play, should they come back this year, of course.

From what I’ve gathered over the past few months from Hornets fans on Twitter, they want basketball back, specifically Hornets basketball. Despite the level of play being below what we’d like, fans know there is something there.

Right now, there’s a little nugget of clay, ready to be shaped and molded, and all it will take is the right artist, the right conditions, and most of all, the fans willing to show their support and patience while a masterpiece is sculpted.

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There’s no telling when that masterpiece will be finished, but when it is, the Spectrum Center better be full of purple and teal, cheering their team to a win. The Charlotte Hornets certainly could use all the support they can get.