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SBD/June 22, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
The Heat won the franchise's second NBA championship last night, beating the Thunder 121-106 in Game Five of the NBA Finals, and Heat F LeBron James said, "This is the happiest day of my life" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 6/22). Heat President Pat Riley said, “We believe we built a team to be around for awhile” (MIAMI HERALD, 6/22). Riley: “Now we grow. Now we evolve. Now comes the fun. This finally allows these players to be free." Riley, when asked what one word he would use to describe the last two years, said, “Harrowing. ... Every single night, I took the losses personally. These guys took less money to come here because of promises we made them. I don't think I could have looked them in the eye if we didn't win the championship. The idea of that actually made me sick" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/22). Heat Owner Micky Arison said, “I thought we were the better team last year. But we weren’t ready.” Arison added, "There's a lot of great stories. And LeBron's obviously, because of all the s--- he had to take" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 6/22).
LEBRON-MANIA: The AP’s Tim Reynolds asks, “Could this just be the start of what James is going to accomplish?” (AP, 6/22). ESPN’s Magic Johnson before Game Five said that the impact of an NBA championship on James “cannot be understated.” Johnson: “I think everything changes. He can now feel, ‘You know what? I’m the best player in the world because I’ve won a ring. The ring says so, not the media, not the marketing says so. But my game actually says so.’” He added, “His popularity will grow. The NBA benefits from that. … It’s going to be LeBron-mania like we’ve never seen before” (MIAMI HERALD, 6/22).
VINDICATED? YAHOO SPORTS’ Marc Spears writes under the header, “Architects Of 'The Decision' Get To Enjoy LeBron James' Moment Of Glory As NBA Champion.” James’ marketing firm LRMR “was initially laughed at.” But now, seven years after departing from agent Aaron Goodwin, James “was recently ranked fourth on Forbes' list of richest athletes.” He is the “top-ranked NBA player in that group.” CAA agent Rich Paul, who is also a co-founder of LRMR, said, “Being young and black and going into a business where you are trying to establish position and where you are able to make business decisions with the lack of what people would call an education, not having a degree, no one wanted to give us a chance. ... We were able to come through that and learn from a lot of people that we had around us and position ourselves to be, not necessarily just successful economically, but successful from a positioning standpoint to have a bright future.” LRMR CEO Maverick Carter said, “No matter what went on with LeBron, we stuck with what we did, talking with each other, being honest with each other and truthful with each other. And if I messed up LeBron told me. And if LeBron messed up or Randy [Mims] messed up, we just told each other. And we never gave into anything around us" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/22).
The Magic on Thursday announced Rob Hennigan as the team’s new GM and he came across at his press conference as “a disciplined, analytical 30-year-old who pledges not to rush into decisions or allow emotion to cloud his judgment,” according to Josh Robbins of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Hennigan said, "Every decision we make will be well thought-out, will be well-planned. And, ideally, each decision will set up the next decision, which will set up the next decision and so on." Hennigan said he will begin his search for a head coach "immediately" and will reach out to C Dwight Howard and his agent "in the very near and foreseeable future" regarding Howard's future with the team. Concerning the Magic's head coaching vacancy, Hennigan said that he “will seek a coach who prepares well, communicates effectively and embraces the challenge of developing players.” Hennigan "would not put a timetable on the search or say how many candidates he plans to contact” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/22). In Orlando, Mike Bianchi writes, “I'm not saying Rob Hennigan, the Orlando's Magic's baby-faced new general manager, is young, but my sources say he accepted the job because he fell in love with the new Amway Center's Kid's Zone.” Hennigan: "Age is what it is. You're judged on the quality of your work, the way you treat people and the way you handle your business." Bianchi writes it would be “an understatement to say the hiring of Hennigan as the youngest GM in the league is a bold move by Magic CEO Alex Martins.” Still, Bianchi gives Martins an "A" for "Audacity" in making his “first major hire” as the Magic's CEO (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/22). Martins said, "You read Rob’s resume, it doesn’t have his age on it and his experience and what he’s done in the organizations that he’s been with far exceed his years, and clearly that’s what’s important” (NBA TV, 6/21).
WHIZ KID: Also in Orlando, Brian Schmitz noted Hennigan during the press conference used words like “organic” and “analytics” and “process-based” and “systematic” and “synergy.” Schmitz: “The Magic have never had a GM like this. And maybe it’s time. … The likable Hennigan reminds me a little of John Gabriel, a super-smart guy who talked like a CEO and even held his vest close to his vest” (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 6/21). Hennigan previously worked for the Spurs and the Thunder, and L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said they “are the two most forward-thinking organizations in the modern NBA, they’ve embraced the way it works, great breeding ground." Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said he was “buying” Hennigan’s hire because “this is the right kind of move. This guy has learned in the two systems where they get it right” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 6/21).
The NFL Jets are "lowering the price of some 12,000 upper tier seats" at MetLife Stadium for the '12 season, according to the AP. The last seven rows in four sections of sideline seats "will fall from $105 per game to either $75 or $50, depending on the row." Corner and end zone seats "will drop from $95 to either $75 in six rows or $50 for the last seven rows." Jets President Neil Glat said, "After taking a hard look and having analyzed the 300 level, we are going to adjust the price. We think we can do better." Fans will be able to purchase a season ticket "for as little as $500, including two preseason games." Glat said, ''This was not an issue about worrying about getting games on TV, but what is the right price for the value for the fans. And there's really an emphasis in the NFL on season ticket holders, the lifeblood of the league'' (AP, 6/21). In N.Y., Ebenezer Samuel writes, "Just in case fans thought the pending Tim Tebow-Mark Sanchez QB controversy wasn’t a good enough value, the Jets have decided to sweeten the deal" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/22). In New Jersey, J.P. Pelzman writes the Jets' announcement "certainly was a surprising event given the usual economy of pro sports, and it also is gratifying for the team's fans." A "nice feature of the lowered prices is that they also will apply to tickets that already have been purchased." The Jets are "coming off an 8-8 season in which they stumbled down the stretch, losing their last three games and missing the playoffs for the first time" in coach Rex Ryan's tenure. Pelzman: "It is a good time to give customers a price break, considering those circumstances" (Bergen RECORD, 6/22).
Former Rams employee Lory Fabian has "sued the team and an executive in federal court Wednesday, alleging age discrimination and sexual harassment," according to Robert Patrick of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. In the "second suit in less than a month alleging age discrimination," Fabian -- who worked in various positions for the team -- claims that "in recent years, the Rams executives have been shedding 'middle-aged women' in favor of those under 40." The suit's claims "single out" former head coach Steve Spagnuolo and Exec VP/Football Operations & COO Kevin Demoff, saying that they "systematically fired several employees over 40." Fabian's suit also claims that she was "subjected to unwanted touching" by Exec VP/Sales & Marketing & CMO Bob Reif. A Rams spokesperson "did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment." Last month, former equipment manager Todd Hewitt "sued in St. Louis County Circuit Court, claiming he was 10 months short of early retirement eligibility that would have kicked in at age 55 when the Rams decided not to renew his contract" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/22). In St. Louis, Bill McClellan wrote under the header, "Rams Lease Could Play Into Age Discrimination Suit" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/3).
Red Sox DH David Ortiz and team Owner John Henry responded to a report by ESPN's Buster Olney that claimed a "toxic" atmosphere surrounded the Red Sox. Ortiz told Peter Abraham of the BOSTON GLOBE: "It seems every day there is something new about players. People need to leave us alone and let us play ball. It's becoming the (expletive) hole it used to be" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/22). Henry said, "I have a lot of respect for Mr. Olney but the important thing is that everyone is working hard on and off the field." Henry acknowledged that everything "is not perfect, but nothing that is going on appears to be so monumental that it will keep the team from doing its job." Henry said, "Whatever problems exist didn't just crop up this year." He added, "From my perspective things seem to be falling into place. ... If our starting pitching is decent this year, we have an opportunity to win it all with everyone coming back in July" (BOSTON HERALD, 6/22). CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam followed Olney's report and wrote of the Red Sox, "Club insiders paint a picture of a handful of alienated players, a detached manager, an absentee ownership and a general manager caught in-between." The ownership has "gone from present and involved to increasingly distracted by other business interests." While Henry, President & CEO Larry Lucchino and Chair Tom Werner "make themselves visible at high-profile series such as last weekend's three-game set at Wrigley Field or the 100th Fenway Park anniversary in April, they're not nearly as visible as before." Fairly or not, "some around the club see the owners as less immersed in the day-to-day operation of the club, and more preoccupied by other investments." One player said, "It used to be that the owners knew everything that was going on around here. Now they have to hear about it from others" (CSNNE.com, 6/20).
MILLAR CITES THE MARKET: MLB Network’s Kevin Millar said the controversy stems from being in the Boston market. He said, “This is what we’re talking about in the big market. You have basically four or five beat writers per paper, so there’s 20 stories going on per day and everybody has a job to do. So you’ve got to create something. You hear about this and all of this stuff and now there are clubhouse problems going on in the Red Sox locker room. But yet, you talk to all the players and everything is fine. I don't know who makes these stories up or who creates these stories, but it becomes a distraction” (“Intentional Talk,” MLB Network, 6/21).
This season the Mets have "become the first New York-area team to join the trend" toward dynamic pricing "in a big way," according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. The first team to "take the plunge nationally" was the MLB Giants in '10, and it "paid off, thanks to a dramatic playoff race and a World Series championship." The Mets "have not reached that level yet, but the fact that they have exceeded expectations has helped generate enough demand to justify the risk of allowing prices to float." Mets Exec VP/Business Operations Dave Howard said, "We think it's working very well." Best notes many in the industry "are keeping a close eye on the Mets' experience." Like most teams that employ "dynamic pricing, they get data from a company called Qcue that analyzes the market." Howard said that the team gets "suggestions from Qcue daily but implements only those it chooses to use." Prices are "reset daily." Howard: "I don't think anyone is perceiving we're gouging. ... The Mets fan will know that they don't have to go to a secondary market source, because Mets.com is being priced based on the same factors" (NEWSDAY, 6/22).
The Sabres achieved their goal of "playing fewer back-to-back games with Thursday's release of next season's schedule," according to John Vogl of the BUFFALO NEWS. The Sabres, who have "led the NHL in back-to-backs since 2005-06, will have just 11 such sets next year." It will be the "fewest ever for the club, which has averaged 20 back-to-backs per season throughout its existence." The Sabres did it by "giving up most of their traditional Friday night home games." The team's "healthy season-ticket base and run of sellout crowds have made the move away from Fridays possible." The team stacked up Friday dates "to try to attract fans, especially following the 2003 bankruptcy, but with the building nearly full before individual tickets even go on sale, the team can afford to host games during the week and not experience a significant drop in attendance." The Sabres also are "changing the start times for their Friday contests." All weekday games will start at 7:00pm ET, "a half-hour earlier than the previous Friday puck drop" (BUFFALO NEWS, 6/22).
WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND: In Denver, Adrian Dater notes if the Avalanche play a full 82-game season in '12-13, nearly "half of its home games will fall on weekend days." That could "boost attendance for a team that finished 23rd in the NHL last season and 24th during" the '10-11 season (DENVER POST, 6/22).
FLYING HOME: In Philadelphia, Frank Seravalli notes for the Flyers, the "first 33 games of the schedule set up quite nicely, with 18 home games and not a single road game out of the Eastern time zone." An OnTheForecheck.com report indicated that the Flyers will travel the "fewest air miles (27,541) of any team in the NHL this season -- a whopping 2,500 miles fewer than the next closest team, the Islanders." Dallas, at 49,851, will "spend the most time in the air" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 6/22).