Top 10 Of 2013: Most Memorable Charlotte Sports Stories

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Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

2013 was a great year to be a sports fan in Charlotte!

From the Carolina Panthers’ winning season & hopefully NFL Playoff run to the Charlotte Hornets name and identity coming back to the Queen City, there have been many story lines from the past year to make any Charlottean proud to root for the home team.

Check out our Top 10 stories from this year, and then let us know what your big sports stories are from 2013!

The Charlotte 49ers Start Their Inaugural Football Season

The Queen City has never had a college football program in our area until August 31st, 2013 when the 49ers kicked off at Jerry Richardson Stadium. Listen to head coach Brad Lambert talk about their inaugural season here.

Carolina Panthers Bounce Back From 0-2 Start To Make NFL Playoff Run

Who would have thought that the Carolina Panthers this year would win 8 straight games after starting 1-3 AND beat the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots in the streak?  Cam Newton, Coach Ron Rivera, and other Panthers were criticized harshly at the beginning of the season, but after a road game victory against the Vikings on October 13th, they took each game of the week as their main focus and saved their season.  Time will tell in the following weeks if their hard work and team maturation can lead them to the playoffs and beyond.  Click here to see how they can make it in the playoffs this year. Plus, the City Of Charlotte OK-ed the $87.5M Panthers Stadium Deal in 2013.

Charlotte Knights finish their stadium in Uptown Charlotte

On September 14, 2012, the Knights broke ground on BB&T Ballpark — the team’s future Uptown Charlotte home. Now, the ballpark is taking shape and will be ready to go in Spring of 2014.

The Charlotte Bobcats Are Playing Better Defense AND Winning Games

New head coach Steve Clifford came into Charlotte and drastically changed the Bobcats defense from the league’s worst to a Top 5 stat leading powerhouse holding opponents to an average of around 92 points.  We will see in 2014 if the team can stay healthy and make some big points on the offensive side of the court, but since the Eastern Conference isn’t doing so well, this might be a year that they can make it back into the NBA Playoffs. Plus, the addition of Al Jefferson in the off season has so far been a great transaction for the team.

Former Notre Dame recruit & Charlotte Catholic running back Elijah Hood

Charlotte Hornets Iconic Name & Colors Return To Queen City

Jimmie Johnson Wins 6th 2013 Sprint Cup Series Title; 2nd Daytona 500 Race

Ryan Lochte Moves To Charlotte To Train For 2016 Olympics

Jeah!  Love him or hate him, the 11-time gold medal Olympic swimmer has moved to the Queen City to train at SwimMAC Carolina alongside Olympic winner, friend, and already Charlotte resident Cullen Jones.  But after his recent knee injury from a fan in Florida, expect to see him more hanging out at the Epicentre than the pool into the new year.

Ice Up Son!, Riverboat Ron, & The Kraken Become Household Names

Veteran Steve Smith called out New England Patriots CB Aqib Talib after the Monday Night Football game for his chippy play, and his quote has now gone viral with T-Shirts and national media picking up on the phrase.  Go ahead & copyright it Steve! Plus, the Observer’s Joe Person giving the name “Riverboat Ron” to Ron Rivera for his 4th down play calls & Greg Hardy’s Sunday Night Football opening monologue with “The Kraken. Hogwarts” has given the Panthers some pop culture sports swag now.

Super Bowl Bound?

Time well tell at the end of 2013 if the Carolina Panthers can win a few games in the post season and head up to New Jersey for the Super Bowl in 2014.  Do you think they can make it?

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