NBA rookies Bobcats win race for a slice of basketball history
WHEN the Charlotte Bobcats, the newest franchise in the National Basketball Association, took to the floor last month for their opening game, it cut a small slice of sporting history.
Not because the team in all probability had the longest odds ever to win a championship (5000-1), but due to the fact that among the 123 franchises distributed among the four major American sports, the Bobcats are the first and only team to have an African-American owner at the helm.
Robert Johnson earned his millions from founding and selling Black Entertainment Television, which broke new ground when it targeted an audience which had been excluded from the small screen’s mainstream. His latest venture is of a different ilk, reliant as it is on appealing to the wider community in North Carolina.
Ed Tapscott, the Bobcats’ vice-president, says:
"In any society, the more inclusive you are, including all of its members in its economic, political and social mainstream, the stronger it becomes. So in that macro, global sense, I think it’s a terrific thing. But on any given game night if we don’t get a guy his tickets quickly and efficiently, he couldn’t care less about that issue. He just wants to know where his tickets are."
IN the week that American sweetheart Mia Hamm ended her incredible footballing career, efforts have begun to re-establish a professional women’s league to supersede the WUSA, which went belly up 16 months ago.
Uniquely among such enterprises, a not-for-profit company has been set up to pursue the idea and to come up with a business model which might work.
Women’s Soccer Initiative Inc has hired Tonya Antonucci, an executive from internet giant Yahoo!, to head development. "We know we have an outstanding, unique product on the field for fans," she said. However, with Hamm - plus several other big names - headed for the sidelines, how the new initiative can hit the net is anyone’s guess.
CANDY is supposed to be sweet. But the NBA career of London resident Michael Olowokandi is proving anything but.
Watching the Minnesota Timberwolves centre during Wednesday night’s clash with Philadelphia was like seeing Lee Sharpe turning out for that club which recently hired Socrates. He could have been a contender. Instead, he’s pretty much a bum.
Olowokandi’s arrival into the NBA was the stuff of folklore. A 7ft, first-year student at Brunel University, he figured that his height might afford him a stab at this unfamiliar game of basketball. So he plucked open an American college guide one day, called up Pacific University at random, and voila, four years later, he was the top choice in the annual rookie Draft.
That was where the fairytale ended. Controversy is now in hot pursuit - he was recently unceremoniously ejected from a nightclub by police using what looked like an electric cattle prod. Not a good sign. And to think that two seasons ago, he rejected a new contract worth 40m from the LA Clippers. Now he’s on a humble 3m with the Wolves.
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