RALEIGH—The Charlotte Bobcats hit the hardwoods in Raleigh Tuesday night.
They took on the reigning NBC champion Miami Heat, led by Lebron James. The team is trying to win over fans outside the Charlotte area. Many Triangle basketball fans were meeting the Charlotte Bobcats for the first time Tuesday night.
But even in a near sell-out crowd in their home state, Bobcats fans were far out numbered by people cheering for the Miami Heat.
"This is my first time [at an NBA game] actually," said Chapel Hill Heat fan Robbie Field.
Bobcats executives hope bringing that great game experience to the Triangle will lure basketball fans from central and eastern North Carolina to Charlotte to see some games. But on Tobacco Road, some fans would say it is tough for the NBA to compete with college basketball.
“We think there's room for basketball fans that love every level. They love kid's basketball, they love NBA, they love college. We have a Carolina player on our team; Brendan Haywood. we have a Duke player on our team in Gerald Henderson. So it's like a homecoming for them,” said Charlotte Bobcats President & Chief Operating Officer Fred Whitfield.
The Bobcats also have to overcome the worst losing record in NBA history to win over fans.
“I'm not a Bobcats fan. If they start to become good. If the Heat somehow don't make it the playoffs which will never happen, i'll vote for, go for the Bobcats,” said Raleigh Heat fan Hiren Gihwala
Executives hope everyone in the Carolinas will cheer on the Bobcats as the hometown team.