Friday, November 30, 2012

Stern Swings and Misses

When it was announced tonight that the NBA would be fining the Spurs for sending four of the starters home to rest I was a little ticked.  Keep in mind, I don't really even follow the NBA.  I like to claim myself as an Oklahoma City Thunder fan, but I wouldn't say I watch them on a consistent basis.  Gregg Popovich has proven he is a winner.  If there is one franchise all NBA teams should follow it is the San Antonio Spurs.  Six road game in nine nights can be taxing to the youngest of teams let alone a team aging as much as the Spurs.  Stern has done a great job to promote the NBA as an entertainment sport and its interest has become global.  However, he really missed the boat on this one.  He also missed a golden opportunity for great public relations.

"I have concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans"-David Stern

Whaaa?!  I realize the purpose of the NBA is entertainment.  I realize fans expect to see the stars when they buy a ticket.  However, it is Popovich's job to win championships.  Not games, championships.  He did what he felt was in his teams best interests to win the championship.  Stern should look to other sports first before rushing to such judgement.

Think about baseball.  When you buy a ticket in advance you have no clue who the starting pitcher will be that day, if the starters will be given an off day or if Kirby Puckett will get hit in the eye with a baseball the night before (this happened to us).  You are paying for the experience.  People that bought the tickets are going.  I've been to one NBA game.  The game is secondary.  The circus that takes place throughout the couple of hours is primary.

Think about football.  Every season there is the debate on whether teams that have clinched playoff berths should rest their starters or play them.  You don't see Goodell pissing and moaning do you?  Fans might be pissed they can't see their favorite players but in the end they want their team to win it all, or at least they should.

Think about hockey.  Well, I guess their fans would just be happy to attend games at this point.

At the end of the day, people think Stern was trying to make a PR move.  With the brawl from a few nights ago, he wanted to shift the attention to something else they say.  Maybe, and he was somewhat successful.  However I believe David Stern missed a golden opportunity to raise his approval rating.  After all this is all about him right?  Well, at least that's the way it seem right now.

Here are a couple ways he could have spun this into a positive.

What about offering everyone in attendance a voucher for a free ticket to any regular season the rest of the year?  Fans wouldn't be able to complain with getting two tickets for the price of one.  Some would claim their voucher and others wouldn't but its the thought that counts right?

NBA is big partners with KIA right?  What about having all of the fans in attendance submit their ticket stubs into a drawing for a free car?  Is 250,000 dollars going to affect the Spurs?  Better yet, can the NBA or KIA afford to give away a free car? 

Finally, and I'm sure there are many more possibilities, but what about convincing the players sitting out to contribute their game check to Hurricane Sandy relief?  Having a chance to influence the biggest media market there is?  Priceless.

The part that really stinks about all of this gets lost in the shuffle.  That would be the actual game.  Without their superstars the Spurs went into Miami and just about took down the defending champions.  In the NFL this would have focused on the result of the game.  This could be due in part to the large amount of gambling and fantasy football that occurs, although these two usually go hand in hand.  The Spurs lost by five points.  If this were an NBA Finals game the discussions would have centered on how great of a game it was.  This is the point where you might say "But it isn't the Finals" and through the eyes of Popovich, that is the point.

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