SBD/Issue 211/Franchises

NBA Franchise Notes: Pistons Face Tenuous Ownership Situation

Local Buyer Is Most Likely Option For
Pistons, But Uncertainty Is Still Prevalent

In Detroit, Bob Wojnowski noted last week's report linking the Pistons or "another unnamed team to a potential Las Vegas buyer ... actually gained traction until the Pistons shot it down," which "shows how tenuous their situation is." Wojnowski wrote, "I don't believe the Pistons are going anywhere, expect perhaps to downtown Detroit in a few years, to join the Red Wings. ... I also realize you can't rule anything out, not in this Michigan economy, not with the state of the NBA and a lockout looming in 2011." A local buyer is the "most likely option here, and any potential owner probably is watching the roster and the payroll," as is Owner Karen Davidson. But this is a "dangerous period for a respected franchise," as the Pistons are a "vitally important asset to this area and the NBA" (DETROIT NEWS, 7/17).

RALLYING CRY: In Ohio, Les Levine wrote Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert "has emerged from the rubble as the most popular owner in the history of Cleveland sports since Bill Veeck," and it is "not even close." While some national media members are "ripping Gilbert" for his open letter about LeBron James, it "played very well" in Ohio. There are "some fans who feel Gilbert has built up enough good will to be able to tear the team down and try to bring it back up again" (Lorain MORNING CALL, 7/18).

THE HEAT IS ON: In Miami, Michael Wallace wrote the "South Florida arrival of LeBron-mania not only lifts a teetering Heat franchise immediately into NBA championship contention, it also catapults Miami to among the more elite sports towns in the nation." Sports Business Group President David Carter "believes James' addition to the Heat will transition Miami from a casual 'event town' -- where big games draw large crowds but routine games are ignored -- into a sports-crazed metropolis." Carter said James "has a chance to elevate its reputation globally, as the NBA is certain to more prominently feature the team in years to come" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/18).

HOW TWEET IT IS: In L.A., David Wharton noted the Lakers "have made it their business to post regularly on Facebook and tweet on Twitter, attracting more than 3.6 million fans on those sites." The team earlier this month announced the signing of G Steve Blake on Facebook, and Lakers Senior VP/Business Operations Tim Harris said, "Now you're in this sort of dialogue where other people take hold. The masses might push your message in a different direction than you intended it to go" (L.A. TIMES, 7/18).

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