Sep 14, 2022 - Sports

NBA thinks the Bulls and Hornets are rivals

Photo of basketball players on a court.
LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets drives against brother Lonzo Ball in 2021. Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The NBA is trying out a "rivals week" this season, in which teams like the Lakers and Clippers square off in front of a national audience.

The intrigue: So will the Bulls play the Knicks, Pistons or Cavs in January?

  • Nope. They're playing Michael Jordan's Charlotte Hornets.

State of play: For the third time in as many seasons, the Ball brothers — Lonzo and LaMelo — will face off in front of a national TV audience, Axios Charlotte's Maxwell Millington reports.

Why it matters: Heavily promoted by their father, LaVar, the point guards were widely known for years before entering the NBA.

  • By broadcasting two Bulls and Hornets matchups on ESPN and TNT, the association seems to be trying to capitalize on their cult following.

By the numbers: Including their middle brother LiAngelo, who plays for the G-League's Greensboro Swarm, the Ball brothers have over 29 million combined followers on Instagram and Twitter.

  • These upcoming contests will be the fourth and fifth nationally televised games featuring Lonzo (24) and LaMelo (20) since the Hornets drafted the latter in 2020.

Yes, but: Does a brother/brother matchup translate to a Bulls vs. Hornets rivalry? Hardly.

What they're saying: "Sports rivalries are usually based on how close the teams are geographically to each other," WBEZ sports reporter Cheryl Raye Stout tells Axios. "In Chicago, that's Bulls/Pistons. That rivalry brings out the passion."

  • "Of course, there will be a former Bulls star watching from his owner's suite in Charlotte."

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