SBD/November 28, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

With End Of Lockout In Sight, Will NBA Fans Come Running Back?

Some pundits think shortened season will produce excitement and draw more fans
With the NBA tentatively set to return Dec. 25, the league “will be welcomed back because this could be a more entertaining season,” and the NBA might “wind up enjoying its most popular season ever,” according to Mike Imrem of the Illinois DAILY HERALD (11/27). In Miami, Greg Cote wrote under the header, “NBA Lockout Will Be Quickly Forgotten.” Labor negotiations “always are annoying, inconvenient and (quite literally) laborious, but we forgive.” Cote: “It’s what we do” (MIAMI HERALD, 11/27). ESPN.com’s Michael Wilbon wrote the players and owners “all look like divas, which they are, but not complete clowns.” With the season expected to start on Dec. 25, NBA fans are “a forgiving people, particularly on Christmas Day” (ESPN.com, 11/27). In Toronto, Ryan Wolstat wrote the NBA, “coming off of a highly lucrative and exciting season, should not suffer too much -- but should see some sort of backlash” (TORONTO SUN, 11/26). In L.A., Bill Plaschke wrote, “You boo … but then, about 10 seconds later, you cheer.” He continued: “I’ll boo. Shame on the NBA for the lockout charade. … But I’ll also cheer. I really don’t care how or why the NBA season is back, I’m just glad it’s back, thinner and shorter and better than ever.” The 66-game schedule begins with three marquee games on Christmas and Plaschke wrote, “Are you kidding me? They should do that every season” (L.A. TIMES, 11/27).

NOT SO FAST: In Toronto, Doug Smith wrote the league is “holding out increased parity … as one reason fans should return.” But “will that be enough?” In these “far more difficult economic times -- and with sports fans in general suffering from a labour malaise -- it will be far more difficult to re-establish the connection franchises need” (TORONTO STAR, 11/27). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Jason Gay writes there is “a passion deficit,” and the momentum generated by the Mavericks-Heat NBA Finals last season “has trickled away.” Everyone with “an NBA beef is predicting its obsolescence,” but Gay writes this “will not happen” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/28). In Boston, Johnson, Powers & Valverde wrote under the header, “Not All NBA Fans Are Feeling Forgiving.” Fans and workers in businesses dependent on the NBA “were bitter after months of watching multimillionaires bicker over money,” and Saturday’s news of a tentative deal “did not engender feelings of forgiveness.” Boston-area fans said that the 149-day lockout “had left them feeling shut out” (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/27). In Newark, Stephen Stirling wrote under the header, “Sports Fans In Newark Show Ambivalence At Return Of NBA, Excitement Tempered By Imminent Departure Of Nets” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/27). In Salt Lake City, Genessy & Morgan wrote under the header, “NBA Labor Handshake Agreement: Fan Reaction Mixed; Businesses Happy” (DESERET NEWS, 11/27). In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro wrote under the header, “NBA Lockout Among Top 5 Worst Stoppages,” naming this season’s NBA lockout No. 5 (NYPOST.com, 11/26). ESPN.com and TRUE HOOPS writers weighed in on “how much damage” the lockout has done and “how enthusiastic” NBA fans will be now (ESPN.com, 11/26).

SPARE ME THE DETAILS, JUST PLAY: The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said "no other American, other than the principles that negotiated the deal, cares about the details” of the CBA. Ryan: “I’m guessing what may have brought all of this to a head is that somebody walked up to both sides (and said), ‘Here’s a poll of the American public. Here’s what they think of you’” ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN2, 11/27).
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