SBD/3/Franchises

NBA OPENING WEEK NOT ONE TO REMEMBER: SIX OF 23 SELL OUT

          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).

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