Monday, February 23, 2009
For Whom The Bell Tolls
By many accounts the NBA is doing better financially. Ratings are up and the league can count on at least 5 powerhouse teams that dominate while still playing entertaining ball.
At the same time, the League continues to carry dead weight. We know the usual suspects, the games you skip watching when your team is on the road visiting them cuz it's too depressing to peep.
The Memphis "Sloe Gin" Grizz, playing in front of 4,000 fans; 3,500 of which are U.Memphis fans too confused from inhaling biscuits slathered in gravy to tell the diff-diff. The other 500 are 3-6 Mafia members.
The L.A. "Sailin Takes Me Away" Clippers, thrilling their bizarre celebrity row of Penny Marshall, Billy Crystal, Malcolm in the Middle and the Sports Guy. That foursome would make for the grossest foursome orgy outside Japan.
Then you have the New Jersey "If Only John Starks Hadn't Broken Kenny Anderson's Wrist" Nets. Is there a better indication of the health of the franchise than peeping the above prices on Stubhub.com? ZERO DOLLARS FOR A TICKET. Sure, the team currently sits 10th in the East, but they have a young, exciting team of emerging stars such as Brook Lopez and Devin Harris. Plus, Vince Carter sometimes pauses from launching jumpers to drop a nasty yam on an unsuspecting fool.
ZERO DOLLARS FOR AN NBA GAME.
The worst part is the Nets had a chance to instantly leap from the League's most moribund to Str8 Baller status by moving to Bucktown, U.S.A. Brooklyn loves its ball. A borough that would be the fourth-largest city in the country were it independent. A location near NINE subway lines, right above the Long Island Rail Road, near the BQE, near three bridges, within walking distance of downtown Brooklyn's offices and within walking distance of several upper-middle class neighborhoods.
But now, the Brooklyn deal is all but dead. Whispers abound that owner Bruce Ratner is bankrupt. Meanwhile, there are three new stadiums in the New York area that are almost done, the new Yankee Stadium, the new Mets stadium, and the new Giants Stadium. None of the three were really necessary. All those teams draw huge crowds and clock more cheese than Chuck e. The one that was necessary, in Brooklyn, is the one not getting done.
As an alternative, the Nets could go to Newark. But the Jersey market has never supported the Nets. For example, we are approaching the 20th anniversary of the McDonald's Family Pack, a package that failed to entice despite offering 4 Nets tickets, 4 McD's extra value meals and a disposable camera for $40. Still, it sure beats staying in the swamp. Driving out there in after-work traffic is more depressing than Drazen. The bus from Port Authority wasn't a bad deal, but that's gone, replaced by a two-train dance that requires a transfer in a place that sounds like a public access Sesame Street knockoff - "Secaucus Junction."
If there's one thing we've learned about the success of sports franchises, (football excluded because football is in its own class), is that teams do better located in the heart of cities rather than in the 'burbs. Same reason why bars and restaurants do better in cities. In the burbs people just want to survive the traffic and get to their nice homes to relax. In cities, at night, people will use any excuse, including attending regular season hoops, to escape the hovels they call their apartments.