On July 10th, 2013, Al Jefferson officially signed his contract to become a member of the Charlotte Bobcats. At the time, fans were excited that the 'Cats would finally have a solid post presence, but how much did we really know about Jefferson? After all, he had spent most of his years in small markets, meaning few national news sources were by any means giving him much attention. Most people around the league viewed the 41 million dollar signing as a waste of money and it would, at best case, give Charlotte an extra ten wins or so. Well as it turns out, it had quite the opposite effect, and here is how it all happened:
As most of you know, Jefferson’s season got off to a rough start when he injured his right ankle in a preseason game. Determined, Al still played in the Bobcats' opener in Houston, which probably was not the best move, as Big Al would battle with that ankle for a good part of the first two months of the year. In fact, Jefferson would go on to miss nine of the first twelve games because of that injury. Even though he missed a significant amount of time early, Jefferson started 70 straight games to end the regular season with plenty of magical moments in-between.
Looking at Jefferson’s year, there are a lot of games that stick out, including Jefferson’s 35 point performance in Madison Square Garden in mid-January. Up until that game, Jefferson had not hit the 30-point mark as a Bobcat. This game opened the floodgates for Al, and was just the beginning of his fantastic scoring run that ran into the April playoffs.
Another game that comes to my mind is his dominant performance against the Lakers. I actually had the privilege of being at Staples Center that night, and as a fan, it is something I will never forget. Thanks to Big Al, Charlotte was able to control the tempo for much of the game and ultimately hang on to win by ten. Jefferson finished that night with a total of 40 points, tying a career high.
One fantastic game for Jefferson was the 'Cats’ 22 point blowout over the Indiana Pacers. On possibly the best home game of the year, Big Al dropped 34 points, which included a three pointer off the glass towards the end of the game. Whenever you have a guy like Jefferson displaying his passion for the game, the crowd is always going to get behind him. That was very true at the Cable Box, as one of Jefferson’s biggest games of the year made for a fantastic atmosphere that night.
Out of all the great games Jefferson has had this year, my favorite came on December 20th, 2013, where the Bobcats had been playing from behind all game against Detroit. When fourth quarter began, Charlotte was down 14 points. Fortunately, this score wouldn’t last long as the Bobcats erupted to score 41 points in the fourth, while holding the Pistons to just 17. This was all made possible by the man himself: Al Jefferson. In the fourth quarter, Jefferson was nearly unstoppable in scoring by virtually every way possible and was showing so much heart while doing so. You may also remember this game by a vision of Al Jefferson pumping his chest under the Pistons' rim. From that point on, I knew the Bobcats had found something special.
Overall, Jefferson ended up having arguably the best season by a player in the history of the Bobcats' franchise (21.8 PPG 10.8 RPG). When you think about the fact that Jefferson didn’t come into his own until about January, one would have to think this team would have been capable of more than 43 wins this year. All in all, it was truly a great year for him and our 'Cats. After missing out on the All Star game, Jefferson went on to collect two NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month awards, doing him and the Bobcats justice on a fantastic season.
Lead Hornets Writer: Jonathon Hoppe