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NBA OPENING WEEK NOT ONE TO REMEMBER: SIX OF 23 SELL OUT
Published November 3, 2000
Through last night's games, only six of the NBA's 23 home openers have been reported as sellouts. On Tuesday, only four of the 13 openers were sellouts (Raptors, Knicks, Bulls and Trail Blazers), on Wednesday, two of seven openers were played before a full house (Lakers, Sonics), while last night, none of the three home openers were sold out (THE DAILY). In Minneapolis, Dan Barreiro writes that attendance from the first week of the NBA season "suggest some folks are less than overwhelmed" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/3). In NC, Lenox Rawlings writes under the header, "NBA Fever Blister: Once Blazing Hot, Stern's League Now Plays Before Thousands Of Empty Seats" (WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, 11/3). On FoxSports.com, Mike Monroe writes, "As optimistic as [NBA Commissioner] David Stern says he is about improved attendance this season, there was some ominously bad signs on opening night" (FoxSports.com, 11/3). LAST NIGHT: In Phoenix, Norm Frauenheim reports that the Suns drew an announced crowd of 18,436 for their home opener against the Trail Blazers last night at 19,023-seat America West Arena, the first time in ten years the Suns have not sold out their home opener. Suns GM Bryan Colangelo: "I'm disappointed that the sellout did not occur. ... Without question, there is apathy in the industry, particularly in this market. Every sport is underperforming" (AZ REPUBLIC, 11/3). Also in Phoenix, Dan Bickley writes that last night's attendance is "a sign of the times, and more an indictment of the league than the Suns. In short, bad basketball, boorish athletes and skyrocketing ticket prices have combined to suck the joy out of the NBA" (AZ REPUBLIC, 11/3)....The Nuggets drew 15,790 for last night's opener against the Warriors at the 19,099- seat Pepsi Center (DENVER POST, 11/3). REACHING OUT TO FANS IN THE MOTOR CITY: In Detroit, Lynn Henning writes on the Pistons' marketing slogan, "Every Night," which "translated is a team that will put it all on the floor every minute of every game, in attempting to give at least a championship effort until championship-caliber players abound." Pistons President Tom Wilson, on the slogan: "It's a simple mantra. What's interesting about the Every Night campaign is that never in my 20-odd years here have I heard anything like this." Other marketing initiatives for the Pistons include phone calls to past season-ticket holders and more community relations, with Pistons players "doing everything from fixing up old homes in Detroit to delivering food baskets." Meanwhile, Henning writes that the team's TV and radio announcers "will be on the offensive -- without being offensive," in hopes of generating excitement around the team (DETROIT NEWS, 11/3). Also in Detroit, Rob Parker writes, "Don't expect a sellout tonight at the Palace. In fact, don't look for one all season. ... Attendance-wise, the Pistons have hit rock bottom. Some crowds [this season] could be so small that they might be considered witnesses" (DETROIT NEWS, 11/3). TIP-INS: Heat Owner Micky Arison said that ticket sales "have come close to expectations," though they "fell off" after C Alonzo Mourning's recent announcement that he would miss the entire season with a kidney ailment. But Arison said, "If we win a lot of games, I think the fans will be here" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/2)....Heat G Eddie Jones, on previously playing for the Hornets: "It [Charlotte] wasn't a basketball city, not a great deal of fan support. I didn't feel like the people really enjoyed the game" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/3)....SI's Richard Hoffer profiles Mavs Owner Mark Cuban and writes that Cuban is "frustrated that all his ideas, which were celebrated in the Internet industry, percolate to no appreciable effect in the NBA." Pacers President Donnie Walsh, on Cuban's treatment of his players, which includes upgraded hotel rooms, special meals and enhanced locker room conditions: "The problem with Mark is, he might force us to go out and do those things (for our players). But, in the meantime, my one comment to him is, I don't think there are any stupid people in this league" (SI, 11/6 issue).