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San Francisco, the Charlotte Bobcats, and the Original Dream Team

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Vacation was wonderful. As a transplant, I completely understand why most people live within 50 miles of their birthplace. I won't bore you with too many details, but there were two highlights worth mentioning here.

Trust me, this has to do with basketball.

First, the Official Girlfriend of Rufus on Fire came with me on vacation. She'd never been to San Francisco before, and I'd never had the opportunity to introduce my hometown to someone so thoroughly. I had visions of showing her all my favorite nooks and crannies, all my favorite "secret" spots, and I did, but she was most excited by two sites I didn't expect to garner such reactions: the row of Victorians featured in the opening credits of Full House, and the Sister Act church.

This is similar to what the Bobcats have to contend with when they decide how to build their team. On the one hand, they have to know that what ultimately entertains the crowds is a winning team. On the other hand, outside of being a championship contender, they don't know what will bring warm bodies who might spend money into the Cable Box.

San Francisco is a world class city that no one could totally experience in a single lifetime. But even with all that gooey goodness packed into a seven by seven mile bubble, a great deal of outsiders will only see the hardcore tourist-y side of it, from the cable cars to Lombard Street to the sea lions on Pier 39. To me, it's a series of neighborhoods and districts, each with their own characters, all folded into one quirky peninsula and populated with people who have a fierce sense of purpose via the process of identity.

To the Official Girlfriend, though, who was only there for a week, it was a place separate from her being that she was definitely visiting, and she remained outside it all. So, even though she thoroughly enjoyed visiting Santa Cruz, the fine dining, and the natural beauty, she outwardly giggled the most while visiting pop culture landmarks associated with her childhood. As much as they may be beside the point for me, or trivial pieces of pop art detritus to you, they are symbols of bonds she shares with her sisters. When she got near those houses and near that church, she was no longer on the outside. What entertained her as a casual fan of San Francisco wasn't always something that this connoisseur expected would. And all of that is totally okay, because with a world class city as big and complex as San Francisco, we expect it to have something special for everyone, even if that something special is something odd.

The trick for the Bobcats, as Trent Reznor might say, is to get people to feel the team from the inside instead of regarding them as a seasonal Uptown sideshow. Winning is the most difficult, but most permanent, method of moving in that direction, and will attract the most fans. Building a winning, world class, franchise will not only attract more people who are invested in the team from inside, but won't repel people only interested in peeking in for the evening.

The second highlight was finding America's Dream Team: The quest for Olympic gold on one of my parents' bookshelves. Basically, it's coach Chuck Daly's official Barcelona diary, and it's the NBA's best official publication about the original Dream Team, with tons of photos and laudatory quotes about the players, some of which are fascinating and/or hilarious in hindsight.

So, as long as the Olympics are going on, every day, I'll pull a snippet from the book and add a comment or two. Here's the first.

PAGE 197 - Chuck Daly
Another controversy has arisen, this time regarding the uniform our players would wear if we win the gold medal. The official USOC ceremony uniform is made by Reebok, while many of our players are under contract to Nike or other companies and are reluctant to advertise a competitor.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.