The Charlotte Hornets certainly aren’t the most attractive side in the NBA but Kemba Walker‘s exciting style of play has drawn more attention to the team.
Ever since Steve Clifford took over in 2013, the Charlotte Hornets have been a team on the rise. After years of poor play and even one of the worst seasons in NBA history, they needed time to rebuild their image and become an attractive franchise once again. With the artistic stylings of Kemba Walker on the court, the organization has done just that and more and more fans are appreciating the fun atmosphere surrounding Buzz City.
The former UCONN Husky has always been an exciting player dating back to his days in college when he had a number of highlight-reel plays during his junior season. His unforgettable step-back game-winner over PITT in the Big East tournament sparked an improbable run to the NCAA National Championship for Kemba and company. Since that moment, he was a household name that many casual fans knew could create his own shot with an array of stellar crossover moves.
And that style of play is attractive to everyone.
While the Charlotte Hornets are nowhere near the level of Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, they have been able to attract more casual fans over the past few seasons. As with Steph Curry, Walker’s improved three-point shot now matches his dribbling moves and that makes for excitement every night. If you watch a game featuring Kemba, you are almost sure to see a highlight play such as these.
Not only has Walker improved his game immensely, making his play style more attractive, but the team has also become more attractive by recruiting better players and changing their style from an inside-out to a fast-paced, three-point shooting system. While the team’s winning ways have boosted their likeability around the league, the NBA isn’t only about winning. Every team is a business and the goal of a business is to be attractive to the masses and Kemba has made this team more attractive.
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Home Court Attendance
From 2005-2014, Charlotte ranked in the 20’s of the NBA in fan attendance for home games. The 2014-15 season was the first year that they ranked inside the top-20 since returning to the Queen City as they came in at #19 with an average of 17,192 fans per game. Reaching 17,000 per game was a franchise mark and was up nearly 2,000 compared to 2005-2014.
In 2015-16 they followed up their great year selling out a franchise record 13 games and moving up to 18th in the league with 17,485 average attendance. While these numbers have gone up due to the rise of the team as a whole as they are now competing with some of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, there is no doubt that Kemba Walker’s swag and style have also played a helping hand.
(Attendance Numbers From ESPN.com)
Nationally Televised Games
After not having any nationally televised games in the 2015-16 season due to the team’s expected slow-paced style of play and poor performances from the previous year, Kemba and company received three nationally televised games this season. It may not seem like a lot but this is quite a big deal for an improving team.
Not only did they get more nationally televised games but they also received more NBA TV games, which is another sign of the team’s rise and more fans wanting to see their games against top level competition. By getting more national games, the team and Kemba has a chance to expand their viewership and maybe draw in some new fans that regularly wouldn’t watch.
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For the most part, only team’s with star players, who are “fun” to watch for the casual fans, get primetime games on national TV. Even though the New Orleans Pelicans are one of the worst teams in the league, they get consistent coverage because of Anthony Davis. I think it’s clear that Kemba Walker’s All-Star level of play and rise to becoming one is a direct cause of the team getting more coverage.
Respect From the Media
It was only a few short years ago that the Charlotte Hornets’ franchise was the laughing stock of the NBA. They are now getting respect from national media outlets such as ESPN, Bleacher Report, and even NBA writers in general. Kemba Walker is usually the topic of discussion for most of them as his highlight finishes and insane handles always garner attention from everyone on social media.
By getting more media attention and repsect, more casual fans will take notice as they see and hear Kemba Walker on their phones or on SportsCenter.
The reason for the team’s likeability or watchability can be debated but it is clear that Kemba Walker is the star of the Charlotte Hornets and when you go to a game or watch them on TV, he is usually the most exciting player on the court. The 26-year old point guard is the one that people go to see. To me, he is the main reason for not only the winning spike for the team but also for the media coverage and fan love.