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TORONTO MEDIA TAKES SHOT AT NBA EXPANSION GUIDELINES
Published January 9, 1997
The NBA's treatment of expansion teams, the Raptors and Grizzlies, and how it differed from the NFL's, is examined by the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL and the TORONTO SUN. The GLOBE & MAIL's Neil Campbell notes neither NBA expansion team is allowed to have the top pick until '99 nor a full payroll until next season. Campbell writes, "As a result, the Grizzlies are awful," and the Raptors are a "bad basketball team." Campbell: "Is there any wonder interest has plummeted in Toronto to the point where the team is slashing ticket prices? Is it any wonder Grizzlies attendance is down more than 1,000 fans a game? Is it any wonder the rest of Canada simply yawns when the words Raptors and Grizzlies are mentioned? This was a serious miscalculation by the National Basketball Association. ... There is no reason the NBA can't take note of the remarkable expansion success stories in other sports and waive the draft restriction. ... It's time to unlock the handcuffs" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 1/9). Raptors Exec VP Isiah Thomas, on the rules: "It wasn't fair to us. I would never have agreed to any of that stuff" (TORONTO SUN, 1/9). WARNING SIGNS? USA TODAY's David DuPree notes NBA attendance is down 1.7% from '95. If the numbers hold, "it will be the first time since 1991-92 the league has not had an increase in attendance." DuPree notes attendance "usually picks up after New Year's. .... But with so much criticism of sloppy play and with so many bad teams this season, such an increase might not follow (USA TODAY, 1/9).