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Expanding In The Right Direction

Expanding In The Right DirectionTuftsgraduate Ed Tapscott is president of the Charlotte Bobcats, anNBA expansion team attempting to fill the void left by the departureof the Hornets in 2002.Medford/Somerville,Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [11.22.04] While starting an expansion franchise in professionalsports is by no means an automatic slam dunk – especiallywhen replacing a once-popular winning team – Tufts graduateEd Tapscott is confident at the helm of the Charlotte Bobcatsduring its debut NBA season.

“We’vedecided that this is a fresh approach,” Tapscott, the teampresident, told the Charlotte Business Journal just beforethe start of the season. “I’m not hanging a wholelot on nostalgia here.”

Before comingto work for the Bobcats, purchased for $300 million by Black EntertainmentTelevision founder Robert Johnson, Tapscott filled a number ofbasketball shoes, including college coach, NBA team executive,scout and agent. He also did commentary for cable networks.

The 1975 Tuftsgraduate – and former member of the basketball team –was charged in 2003 with building an NBA franchise from scratch.

“I madea lot of calls that [first] day,” Tapscott recalled to theWashington Post. “I can’t remember who Icalled first, but I probably said, ‘Help!’”

In June, Tapscottgot some help when the Bobcats landed University of Connecticutstar Emeka Okafor with their No. 2 pick in the NBA draft.

“He’sa presence,” Tapscott said of Okafor to the Post.“He’s a real, real good character guy. A very, verybright man.”

To win backfans dismayed when the popular Charlotte Hornets moved to NewOrleans in 2002, Johnson and Tapscott aimed to bring Charlottea highly entertaining game-time experience, including laser shows,live musical performances and dancers.

“Wewant the Bobcats to reflect our uniqueness,” Tapscott toldthe Journal.

The team alsofaces a unique challenge – reaching out to a once-ferventfan base that felt betrayed by the controversial departure ofthe Hornets.

“Asan organization, you would make a mistake if you ever thoughtyour work was done,” he told the Post. “We’rehere for the long haul and over time we feel we’ll havepeople excited about NBA basketball all over again.”

While someempty seats were visible at the Bobcat’s sold-out inauguralhome opener on November 4, Tapscott saw the crowded arena as proofthat Charlotte has welcomed the new franchise.

“That’sone indication that the fans are excited,” he told the AssociatedPress.

Even fans’complaints will be welcomed by the open-minded Tapscott and team.

“We’vegot to regard criticism as free consulting,” he told theJournal.

Another concernfacing the franchise is talk of a possible labor lockout in the2005-6 season – one that would showcase both the unveilingof the new arena and the maturation of the young core of Bobcatsplayers assembled this year. Tapscott is certain that an agreementwill be reached.

“I thinkwe will get a very important lesson by watching [the NHL lockout]this year,” he told The Charlotte Observer. “Whenyou have an example that precedes your deal, cooler heads willprevail.”

Despite theobstacles his franchise must overcome, Tapscott told the AssociatedPress he is optimistic that the Bobcats will be a success.

“Asmore time passes, I have confidence the problems will be behindus.”



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