Well, it’s Christmas day, and you know what that means: presents, family, a hearty dinner, and NBA basketball. And even though it might not have looked like that there would be any basketball this year, a new collective bargaining agreement was agreed upon in late November to salvage the rest of the season. So while we eat succulent ham for dinner, rest assured we will be able to see Kobe Bryant hog the rock again, just like we have every year prior.
This might be great for the South Florida sports fan in general. The Heat are back, and so is the super-trio of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
Is it great for the Panthers? Maybe not.
During the time that the NBA has been painfully infighting about profit sharing and salary caps, the Panthers have been quietly brewing up a storm in Sunrise. They have won consistently and convincingly, and the team deserves attention. But even though the Panthers nailed the audition in the Heat’s absence, nobody can guarantee that they can continue to keep the spotlight on themselves.
The Heat are a media-spoiled team that get put on the front page of the local papers in regularity. If the heat hold a scrimmage, its going on page one with in-depth analysis. If Panther fans want to see the story about the exciting win against a division rival, they’ll have to shuffle throughout the sports section to find our pal Harvey Fialkov on the bottom of page four.
But I can’t say the Heat don’t deserve it. The team is electric and entertaining to watch, and arguably the most talented team ever assembled. The shrewd tactics of Pat Riley and the rest of the organization pushed the salary cap to the brink, and the Heat fans went along for a crazy ride last year that almost took them to another NBA championship.
The Panthers won’t be able to get the same media attention as the Heat, but they’ll have to make do with what they’ve got and use it for the best. After the great start to the year, the Panthers have at least done well enough to gain this entire regions attention. If they can remain atop the division and play great hockey like they have all year, we can keep the fanbase. If they play mediocre and dip in the standings, a few fans might fall off the wagon to jump for the Heat.
The Panthers can’t let that happen, not only for the present team, but also for the future of the franchise. But so long as we win through April and May, they won’t have to worry about attendance or TV ratings. They’ll be right up there with the Heat on the front page.
Thanks for reading, and Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to everyone!
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