Tom Sorensen

Short takes: On sports catalysts, including J.J. Watt, Michael Jordan and ... Curtis Samuel?

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) is helped off the field after an injury that ended his season on Sunday. The league is less in his absence.
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) is helped off the field after an injury that ended his season on Sunday. The league is less in his absence. AP

Short takes on the world of sports:

Some athletes represent a city. You think of the town, you think of the athlete. One of those athletes is J.J. Watt, the defensive end for the Houston Texans. He’ll miss the rest of the season with a broken leg. Watt is talented and intense and he flings himself into the competition and against opponents. Watch him long enough and you want to put on a helmet and help. The NFL is lesser with him gone. …

Michael Jordan donated $7 million to help open two Novant Michael Jordan Family Clinics. There are Charlotte neighborhoods that desperately need such help, and two now will have it. The clinics are expected to open in 2020. We sometimes talk about what we’d do if we had the money some people do. I hope we’d do this. Jordan’s name could be a catalyst. Perhaps others will follow. …

So when tight end Greg Olsen returns the Carolina Panthers will offer possibilities, most of them big. Ed Dickson was the best tight end in football last week. He’s 6-4. Olsen has been the best tight end in football most of the last three years. He’s 6-5. Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is 6-5 and Devin Funchess is 6-4. Let the big dogs feed. But there is still a player, a rookie, limited in camp by injuries who is going to contribute this season. He is Curtis Samuel, and he will have a blow up play and a blow up game. You won’t notice him next to the other receivers because he’s 5-11. But Cam Newton will. Samuel’s speed is instant. I don’t know when it will happen but it will. …

Christy Salters, the former women’s lightweight champion, is off to a fine start as a Charlotte fight promoter. Her boxing cards at CenterStage Charlotte sell out. Her next will be Nov. 18, and feature a combination of local, regional and national fighters. Until she came it was as if boxing fans were wandering through the wilderness wondering if they'd ever see Charlotte boxing again. And suddenly, there’s a ring. …

I have a great idea for a commercial. If I’m a Charlotte HVAC company, and I’m looking for a way to attract customers, I start a series of commercials. We stick two guys in a truck. One is old and has no pulse or personality. The other is clean cut and earnest and silly. We call the old guy Mr. (insert name of company). We call the young guy Billy. ...

Nic Batum shot 40.3 percent from the field last season and 33.3 percent from 3-point range. The numbers aren’t pretty. But no matter how well his replacements play, the Charlotte Hornets’ guard will be missed. Last season he contributed 15.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and a career high 5.9 assists a game. Batum is like room service. What do the Hornets need? Let him know. Batum usually delivers. …

When the Hornets needed energy last season, that crazed and contagious let’s go energy, who provided it? Michael Kidd-Gilchrist did in seasons past. If you offer it on defense, it still counts. I thought MKG, who was coming off two serious injuries, was tentative last season. As a result, energy was the responsibility of Charlotte’s all-star point guard Kemba Walker. You know who else will bring it? Rookie guard Malik Monk. Monk offers many interesting qualities. Meek is not among them.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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