Friday, July 09, 2010

Notes from LeBron mania: Nets losses, reversible jerseys, bitterness in Cleveland, Zimbalist the media critic, and Yormarketing desperation in Florida

Now that superstar LeBron James has signed with the Miami Heat, and the Nets' coach and owner remain positive, not everyone's convinced.

From the Times:
The Nets are so far the biggest losers in free agency, having failed to sign any of the players on the market, despite the best efforts of their charismatic new owner, the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov.
Well, you might say the teams that lost stars fell behind much more, but the Nets suffered in comparison to other teams that cleared cap space.

From Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi, mindful of the short stay in Newark:
And, while it will be largely overlooked, his nine words — “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach” – have effectively ended New Jersey’s frustrating and fruitless dalliance with professional basketball.

...Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov issued a statement not five minutes after the decision to “reiterate our commitment to winning a championship within five years.” But that billboard outside Madison Square Garden, the one declaring that Prokhorov and Jay-Z had the “blueprint for success” is 30 stories worth of hubris today, and the new owner looks as feeble as the old one.
Al Iannazzone on the Nets Insider connected a few dots:
This free agency continued the trend from the regular season.

The Nets had the best chance to win the Lottery and potential franchise-changer John Wall, and fell to third. At one point, they believed they were in the mix for James. Another loss.
Reversible jerseys return?

Comments on NetsDaily:
Newest goal for Proky

“Next year we plan to win… NBA lottery”

by yankeesnets

ATTENTION

Prokhorov has changed his statementto include: “we will spend our money wisely except for Outlaw, that signing was strictly because he has a really cool name now back to the plan”

Since the face been revealed the game got real

by BL3ACH

Can you imagine how many bandwagon fans there will be wearing Miami Heat jerseys. Wait until next year when Miami comes to Newark. Half the arena will be Miami fans.

LETS GO NETS!

by JustinNJ

who smells Reversible Jerseys II

by 3ptChucker
An open letter from the Cavaliers owner

Open Letter to Fans from Cavaliers Majority Owner Dan Gilbert:
Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you....
Well, there's betrayal and there's claiming subsidies, as local muckraker Roldo Bartimole has chronicled. And wouldn't Gilbert have excused the "narcissistic, self-promotional build-up" had James announced he was staying in Cleveland?

(Update: Dave Zirin writes about how Gilbert built his fortune on subprime loans.)

Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Philip Morris offered some more perspective in a column headlined If you want to root for a committed hometown team, head to a Little League playground:
Recently, I've been getting my sports fixes from [my ten-year-old daughter] her and her friends – not the Cavaliers or the other professional teams in this town. Perhaps, that's not fair to her. But it's true nonetheless.

The reason is simple: She and her friends play only for the love of the game.

...The same can no longer be said for professional sports. And that's why I'm rapidly losing interest in the pro games. That saddens me.

I'm realizing that my loyalty to the hometown team is scantly rewarded, and my allegiance is unappreciated by players who so many of us idolize.

A free hot dog or a poster on fan appreciation night from management doesn't really feel like love when your favorite player is looking to jump ship.

LeBron's decision to leave Cleveland, announced Thursday evening in an ESPN prime-time special, has nothing to do with my evolving take on the pro games.

Entertainers at the highest levels – like LeBron -- are mercenaries, who understandably maximize their earning potentials (who wouldn't), all the while claiming to be in pursuit of championships.
Zimbalist as media critic

Did anyone catch sports economist Andrew Zimbalist serving as a media critic? He was quoted yesterday in the Christian Science Monitor regarding the LeBron James reality show:
In any case, the program on ESPN will be a product wholly packaged by Team LeBron – from the venue to the format to the ads to the hand-picked journalists to interview him. To some critics, this is worrying.

"I find this to be a bastardization of the role of the media insofar as in a democratic society we view the media as an independent source to report on news, but here the subject of the news is controlling the presentation of the media," says Andrew Zimbalist, an economist at Smith College. "So in that way I find it absurd, but [in this context] it's also harmless."
Um, equally absurd was Zimbalist's gentle treatment by the New York Times when he wrote an "independent" report on Atlantic Yards for Forest City Ratner.

Yormarketing in Florida

Or how about the South Florida hockey team, marketed by the twin of Nets CEO Brett Yormark, trying to capitalize on the Miami Heat's downdraft:
Sunrise Sports & Entertainment announced today a limited time promotion in which Florida Panthers fans can purchase “Seats Fit For A King” for the 2010-11 NHL season. From now until Monday, fans can purchase Panthers season tickets for $23 per game in the lower bowl and $6 per game in the upper bowl.

“Based on the hype surrounding rumors of a new King headed to South Florida, we wanted to remind our fans that we want them to feel like royalty,” said Panthers president & COO Michael Yormark. “Certainly, it’s an exciting time to be part of the South Florida sports industry and we’d like our fans and our staff to embrace it.”
Don't $6/game season tickets suggest a desperate time for the sports industry?

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