Opening Night Was About Heart
By John Hartman, Hornets Fan and Swarm 365 Member
I noticed a common theme on Opening Night… the Charlotte Hornets have heart. On display was the heart of the fans, this team and especially Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. In my six years as a season ticket holder, I’ve never experienced anything quite like Opening Night. The hive truly was alive again. The goose bumps were unavoidable; whether it was during the introduction video of the Hornets buzzing through downtown Charlotte or Buzz City on its feet throughout the fourth quarter chanting “Defense” and “Let’s Go Hornets” at the top of their lungs. Buzz City never gave up in this game and neither did our team.
Early in the game, the cohesiveness was lacking and the frustration of the players was evident, but this team does not give up. Kemba Walker didn’t let his struggles at the free-throw line get him down. Giving up is not in his blood. Instead, he used it as motivation to drain two clutch shots at the end of regulation and overtime. These were the type of shots that have come to define his career.
Lance Stephenson didn’t have a good night offensively but left it all on the court. I’m not sure if they showed it on TV, but he was in severe pain when he went down with what appeared to be a cramp late in the fourth quarter. The pain on his face was that of someone you wouldn’t expect to be able to even stand up. Yet Lance got up and limped his way down the court to grab a crucial rebound. The heart of this team was evident tonight.
Two years ago I won a contest to attend the NBA draft lottery in New York as the Bobcats lucky fan. The whole time all I could think about was how awesome it would be to have Anthony Davis in a Bobcats uniform. As we all know, the lottery balls didn’t fall our way. With Anthony Davis off the board, we drafted MKG – a high-energy defensive star that had a jump shot with as much press as Charles Barkley’s golf swing. But the one thing that defines MKG is his heart. He will never give up and always outwork his opponent. His work with Mark Price over the summer was on display tonight as he drained two pull-up jumpers and ended up shooting 75 percent from the field for the night. The hesitant, pass-first MKG of old is now a confident jump shooter. MKG’s energy was also off the charts throughout the night, whether it was driving hard to the hoop or pumping up the crowd. At the end of regulation, he even sprinted down the court to celebrate and high five the courtside fans. Yes it would have been awesome to have been able to draft Anthony Davis, but on Opening Night we got a glimpse of the player MKG is becoming. People forget the kid is only 21 years old. I can’t wait to watch him grow throughout this season and in his career with the Hornets. Maybe I wasn’t the lucky fan two years ago since we didn’t get to draft Anthony Davis, but after what I saw tonight, I think we all need to wait a little longer to judge that. MKG has a bright future in this league and I truly believe we will be lucky to have him down the road.
Thank you to Michael Jordan and the entire Hornets organization for everything they did to make tonight special. It was a night I will truly never forget. Let’s go Hornets!