SBD/April 26, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan said that while the team is "in a rebuilding mode, he never anticipated a season where the team would finish last in the league, much less with what could be the worst winning percentage in NBA history," according to a front-page piece by Rick Bonnell of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The Bobcats will clinch that dubious honor with a loss tonight against the Knicks, but Jordan insisted that this season's results "won’t dissuade him from the rebuilding plan that started with the trades of veterans Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson last season." Jordan said, "This was going to be a trying year -- we knew that. But did we want to chase the most Ping-Pong balls (in the May 30 draft lottery)? No way." Jordan also said, "My success will be judged differently. I’ve come to accept I’ll be scrutinized more than any other owner. I know now that I have to have a tough skin about these things." He added, "It’s absolutely wrong that I don’t want guys to challenge me. And the people who say that aren’t in the room. The idea that people can't do that is just wrong" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/26). Former Bobcats coach Larry Brown, who was fired by Jordan in December '10, during an interview yesterday with syndicated radio host Dan Patrick said of Jordan, "I love the guy, I think he’s brilliant, but he’s around people that don’t have a clue and they won’t challenge him. The more you challenge him the more you get from him." Brown added, "He has people around him that just made me sick. It was not comfortable. It was almost like they were spies, wondering what you were doing and getting back to him. I should have spent more time face-to-face with Michael because I do see a passion. I think he’s just hurt right now” ("The Dan Patrick Show," 4/25).
THE INNER CIRCLE: ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said, "The problem with Michael Jordan is that he won't fall back and hire the best basketball people and the best basketball minds. His whole thing is about insulating himself with people he trusts, who will protect, as opposed to people he knows can do the job" ("First Take," ESPN2, 4/25). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser noted former Chicago Tribune reporter Sam Smith told him that Jordan “likes people around him who are his cronies, who he dominates." Kornheiser: "So I think the criticism is valid.” However, ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "I know people who work for Michael and know how to tell him no and they’ve been around him a long time and have no problem doing that” ("PTI," ESPN, 4/25). Meanwhile, SI.com's Michael Rosenberg wrote Jordan "has been the worst kind of owner." Rosenberg: "He pays attention when he feels like it. He hires his cronies. ... He complains about the cost of doing business, like he thought he was buying a convenience store instead of an NBA team." Rosenberg added, "The Bobcats are worse than bad. They are cheap. They are boring." The Bobcats are "Jordan's Folly, proof that no matter who you are or how high you rise, at some point life will step on your head" (SI.com, 4/23).
BLACKHAWK DOWN: In Chicago, Rick Telander noted Jordan on Monday attended the Coyotes-Blackhawks Western Conference Quarterfinal Game Six "wearing a Blackhawks jersey" and standing with Hockey HOFers Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull. Telander wrote, "It was shocking to see Jordan at the United Center. It was mind-boggling. Why, for heaven’s sake, wasn’t he with his team -- a basketball team, remember, playing a sport Jordan gets -- at least pretending to be concerned? And, dear God, there he was again Tuesday, this time at Wrigley Field, watching the Cubs’ game against the St. Louis Cardinals. ... Jordan supposedly is all about winning. Isn’t that his image?" It is possible Jordan "just doesn’t care." Telander: "His good times on the links and in the restaurants, skyboxes and gambling dens might be all he needs. But owners own. And Jordan is a terrible owner" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/25). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said of Jordan's appearance at the Blackhawks game, "It looks terrible. When your team's in the middle of a franchise-record losing streak and you're a part-owner of the team, you should be there. If you're not there, you should certainly not be at another sport wearing another team's jersey" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 4/24). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said he was "stunned" to see Jordan at the Blackhawks game. Le Batard: "Charlotte is playing in Washington. Nobody wants to be at that game and they represent the two great failures on Michael Jordan's resume, the team he currently owns and the team that fired him so he flees the premises and goes closer to where his statue is" ("Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 4/24). In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen wrote Jordan "lost credibility by showing up in Chicago to watch the Blackhawks and the Cubs." It was a "horrendous PR move. If you're going on the road to watch a team, it ought to be yours" (CHARLOTTE.com, 4/25).
LOVABLE LOSERS? The CHARLOTTE OBSERVER's Sorensen wrote of the Bobcats, "I don’t find them amusing. They aren’t lovable the way some losing teams are. Players don’t do funny things on the court. They aren’t zany. They lack characters. They just lose." The Bobcats might "buy time if they change their name to the Hornets. But to win fans, they have to win games" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/25). ESPN's Doug Gottlieb said the Bobcats' performance is hurting Jordan's legacy because they were a "playoff team before he took ownership. They're now the worst team in league history." Jordan's post-playing career "will take away from his overall legacy. It's sure not helping his legacy" ("Numbers Never Lie," ESPN2, 4/23).
NBA Kings officials “face one of the most difficult marketing tasks in their Sacramento tenure: persuading frustrated fans to reinvest financially and emotionally in the team that nearly jilted them for Anaheim last year, and may remain in town for no more than another few years,” according to a front-page piece by Bizjak & Kasler of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Upset by the team's "unwillingness to sign an arena deal to secure its future in Sacramento, some vocal season ticket holders are talking about canceling purchases for next season, some sponsors are rethinking contracts, and civic leaders are calling” for Kings Owner the Maloof family to sell. That effort “could pivot on events today,” as Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is set to “meet with team owners in a 13th-hour push to keep his downtown arena dream alive.” That meeting “is expected to last for several hours.” But team officials said that they “think the Kings retain a strong following in Sacramento, regardless of what happens on the arena.” Kings PR Dir Chris Clark said that the team “has hit the 88 percent renewal rate among season ticket holders.” Only “a few of them have backed out since the arena deal fell apart.” He added that attendance “was up 7 percent this year.” Bizjak & Kasler note since April 13 when the Maloofs "pulled out of the deal for a new arena, reported attendance has topped 16,000 for each of three games at Power Balance” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/26). In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin writes in “contrast to the wrenching scene inside Power Balance Pavilion during and after the Kings' overtime loss to the Lakers on April 13, 2011, the mood figures to reflect a combination of recent developments.” The major surprise, “of course, is that the team is present and accounted for … at least through 2012-13.” With approximately $15M in salary cap space, the Maloofs “need to spend both wisely and generously this summer,” and Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie “has to avoid a repeat offseason performance” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/26).
RETENTION RATE: Elmets Communications President Doug Elmets, who serves as spokesperson for Thunder Valley Casino, one of the Kings' biggest sponsors, said that the sponsorship “has been great for the casino's business, but the casino is taking a wait-and-see approach about renewing.” Elmets: "If ticket sales fall off substantially, and we don't get some kind of break on the (advertising) rates, then it doesn't make particularly good sense” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/26). Also in Sacramento, Melanie Turner notes that several sponsors "say they haven't decided whether to renew their sponsorship and corporate suites." Western Health Advantage Chief Marketing & Brand Officer Rick Heron said, "We're up in the air. We're just waiting to see what the reaction will be of the fan base. Without a strong and committed fan base, the value of that advertising opportunity goes down." But one concern Heron said he has about the value of working with the Kings is that "the dedication of the owners goes a long way toward fan enthusiasm." Heron: "We did it for two reasons: to support the effort to keep the Kings in Sacramento and, mainly, it's purely business. We want a partnership that's going to increase our membership, get our name out to an audience of folks" (SACRAMENTO BUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/20 issue).
The Sabres yesterday announced their season-ticket prices for the '12-13 season "will increase $2 to $8 per game," according to John Vogl of the BUFFALO NEWS. Fans in the 100 Level of First Niagara Center "will feel the biggest jump" as tickets in the arena's lowest level "are rising as much as 12.2 percent." The 200 Level End will see the "largest per-game hike in terms of dollars," as the cost of each seat will rise 10.7% to $83. Meanwhile, the 200 Level Club will see prices increase by 7.6% to $99. The 300 Levels, the arena's "cheapest seats," will be $25, up 8.7% from last year. The Sabres said that their average ticket price "will be approximately $53," up 18.2% from last year's average of $44.85. The NHL's "projected league average" will be $75. The Sabres said that they "had 15,100 full season ticket holders and will release an additional 200 seats to members of their Blue & Gold Club waiting list." The Sabres also announced the arena and its surrounding property "will be a smoke-free zone beginning Sept. 1" and there would "no longer be designated smoking areas outside the building" (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/26).
Tigers 1B Prince Fielder yesterday got "his first look" at the team's bobblehead doll created in his likeness, and he "had a lot to say" in the design phase, according to Tony Paul of the DETROIT NEWS. Fielder saw several pictures of an early, non-painted mold of a bobblehead that will ultimately be made in China and said, "The hands are backward. Is that normal?" Tigers Manager of Promotions Jared Karner responded, "No, no. That's one of the couple things we caught." Fielder also asked, "Am I gonna be in sleeves? ... I don't wanna be." In reference to his tattoos, Fielder said, "Can they kind of color some stuff in there? ... If we're going to do a bobblehead, might as well actually be me." Fielder met with the Tigers' promotional team for "about 10 minutes" Wednesday and the team now will "send his suggested fixes back" so a new bobblehead can be worked up. The Tigers will need 10,000 bobblehead dolls in all, and the final product "will be shipped from China to a U.S. West Coast port, railed to Chicago, then trucked to Detroit -- all about 10-14 days ahead" of the giveaway day on Aug. 21 (DETROIT NEWS, 4/26).
In Phoenix, Dan Bickley writes, "These days, there is a different vibe in Glendale." In the previous two seasons, the Coyotes "were like the Suns are now -- playoff poseurs, a team good enough to flirt with the postseason but with little chance at extended success." Now, the "roles are reversed," as the Suns have missed the playoffs for the third time in four years. This opens a "huge window of opportunity and exposure" for the NHL club. Coyotes President & COO Mike Nealy said, "I would never wish bad on anybody. But maybe that helps us become the darlings of the Valley for a little while." Bickley notes at close of business yesterday, Predators-Coyotes Western Conference Semifinal Game One at Jobing.com Arena "was not a sellout." The venue's "affordable upper deck tickets were gone, but many $114 seats on the far reaches of the lower bowl remained" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/26).
TWITTER FAUX PAS: USA TODAY's Mike Brehm notes Devils fan Laura Rubino on her Twitter account "saw a leap in the number of followers" after her comment to Panthers President & COO Michael Yormark "was dismissed by him because of her lack of followers." Yormark tweeted Tuesday that the Panthers "were no longer selling plastic rats at the arena because visiting fans were tossing them on the ice." Rubino and other Devils fans "objected to Yormark's assertion and challenged him on his Twitter account." His response to Rubino: "You have 70 followers. No one cares what you think." As of 9:00pm ET last night, "she had nearly 4,000 followers" (USA TODAY, 4/26). Panthers announcer Steve Goldstein noted on his Twitter account that Yormark and the team are flying Rubino into tonight's Devils-Panthers Game Seven and will give her a seat in a suite (TWITTER.com, 4/26).
JET STREAM: In Winnipeg, Martin Cash wrote the Jets are "opening doors for the city's economic development agency." At their annual meeting Tuesday, Economic Development Winnipeg CEO Marina James said that "visitor traffic was up seven per cent last year and is forecast to grow by four per cent this year." Cash wrote the team "is certainly helping put Winnipeg on radar screens." Head of EDW's Yes! Winnipeg operation Bill Morrissey said, "The visibility Winnipeg has received as a result of the Jets is very definitely making a difference in name recognition. Increasingly, we are having the opportunity to have the discussion (about the relative merits of doing business in Winnipeg). And when they listen to it, they are impressed" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 4/25).
ISLAND OF ADVENTURE: In New Jersey, John Brennan asked, "If not Brooklyn, where else would the Islanders go in 2015?" The MSG Network TV contract "seemingly binds the Islanders to the region as much as it does the Devils ($10 million plus per team, a gold mine by NHL standards)." Brennan continued, "How can a franchise manage more net revenues elsewhere?" NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "could have added pressure on the Long Island folks by touting Brooklyn as a longterm alternative now -- then backed off, if need be," should the Islanders' scheduled '12-13 preseason game in Brooklyn "lead to the conclusion that a realistic NHL capacity at Barclays Center be even smaller than estimated" (NORTHJERSEY.com, 4/25).