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SBD/October 31, 2012/NBA Season PreviewPrint All
The Heat received their '11-12 NBA Championship rings prior to last night's season-opener against the Celtics, and the jewelry is "over the top ... even by South Florida bling standards,” according to a front-page piece by Michelle Kaufman of the MIAMI HERALD. Each ring is “made of 14K white and yellow gold and features 219 diamonds (10.8 total carats), 46 custom-cut princess-cut diamonds, and three Onyx stones.” The ring weighs “a quarter of a pound,” and the top features the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy “in 14K gold with a round half-carat diamond in the shape of a basketball.” The Heat logo is “set with 31 diamonds, and the words ‘World’ and ‘Champions’ are framed by 46 diamonds.” One side has “two championship trophies representing the 2006 and 2012 titles," with the word “Family’’ inscribed below. The player’s name is “on the other side, and underneath” is the “All In” team trophy commemorating the team’s motto last season. A circle with the 15 players’ numbers "surrounds the trophy.” Inside is the inscription: “Forged in the fire between a hammer and an anvil," and the date 6-21-12. Jostens created the rings. The team also sold “championship ring merchandise, which ranged from $10 plastic replica rings to the $5,500 Ultimate Fan Ring made of 14K gold and featuring most of the elements on the real rings, including a few diamonds.” They also had “pendants, earrings, bracelets, key rings, and cuff links for sale.” In addition to the unveiling of the rings, yesterday “served as the launch of several new arena amenities” at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat “upped its hip quotient with the opening of Hyde lounge, a 5,000 square-foot nightclub inside the arena that includes multiple bars and a private dining room” (MIAMI HERALD, 10/31). Heat Owner Micky Arison yesterday said that as good as the team’s first two championships felt, “the third and fourth are going to feel even better.” Arison, in his first local interview since June said on WQAM-AM, “Only 10 teams have won multiple championships, and only five have won three or more. That’s a small club we want to be part of” (MIAMI HERALD, 10/31).
FLASHY OR CLASSY? In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy writes, “I wish Red Auerbach had been in South Beach to comment on the Heat’s hideous handling of the hardware. It was truly ridiculous.” The trophy and the rings were “hidden by a circular red curtain dropped from the overhead scoreboard,” as four police officers “stood guard in front of the precious metal.” Shaughnessy: “Excuse me. Didn’t these guys win a championship in 2006? Whatever happened to ‘act like you’ve been there before’” (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/31).
ON SECOND THOUGHT: In Cleveland, Jodie Valade reports Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert "in hindsight ... regrets" the “infamous letter” he wrote to fans following LeBron James' decision to sign with the Heat stating the Cavs would win an NBA Championship before James would. Gilbert said, "Looking back now, that probably was not the most brilliant thing I've ever done in my life." Valade writes, “Particularly now that James is collecting his first ring for winning the NBA championship in June.” Gilbert: "If you're going to predict something that doesn't happen and you're going to do it publicly, you'd for sure take it back. When that happened, when they won, it was the end of the end of the end of that whole thing. Now there's nothing more to talk about” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/31).
NBA Commissioner David Stern presided over the Heat's championship ring ceremony last night prior to their season opener against the Celtics and acknowledged the effects of Hurricane Sandy. However, Stern committed a noticeable error by naming the wrong storm. Stern said to the crowd from center court, "I know that everyone around America watching has in their thoughts and their abiding concerns those who were affected by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. That said, we have a celebration tonight" ("NBA Tip-Off," TNT, 10/30). YAHOO SPORTS’ Dan Devine noted after the Heat had received their title rings, TNT’s Ernie Johnson addressed the misstep and "clarified that the commissioner obviously intended to say 'Sandy'" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/30).
STERN LOOK: With Stern last week announcing his retirement in February '14, TNT’s Charles Barkley called Stern “arguably the greatest commissioner in sports." Barkley said of Stern, "I have a lot of admiration and respect.” TNT’s Kenny Smith added, “When he took over the game, I don’t think it was a global game and now it is played everywhere, all over the world. To me, that’s the biggest addition that he’s done as commissioner.” NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver will replace Stern, and Barkley said, "He’s a great guy, he’s going to do a fantastic job. The only problem Adam has, when you build something so high, trying to maintain that and make it grow is very difficult. Adam is going to do a fantastic job." Smith: “He is following a legend, but he’s been there as well a lot of those years, in all of those meetings, all of his input has been there as well. It’s not new to him that he’s doing it.” Barkley added about Silver, “Do you think he’s going to be nice to me now? Sometimes when people get powerful they forget their little friends” ("NBA Tip-Off," TNT, 10/30). The AP’s Jim Litke wrote under the header, “Is Stern Best Commissioner In Sports?” Stern is “a ‘player's commissioner’ in nearly every sense, which is why the knocks against him have plenty of merit, too.” He “hitched the league's fortunes to the drawing power of its stars at the expense of its teams.” So while Stern “often pays lip service to achieving competitive balance, the dominance of two dozen or so superstars has made the argument moot.” Only eight teams have “won a championship during his stewardship” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/30).
The "highly anticipated" Knicks-Nets regular-season opener tomorrow night at Barclays Center "will be played as scheduled, despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy," according to Mazzeo & Begley of ESPN N.Y. NBA Senior VP/Basketball Communications Tim Frank yesterday afternoon wrote on his Twitter feed that the league is "assessing the situation." But Frank in an e-mail later in the day wrote that the game "would go on as scheduled." A Nets spokesperson yesterday confirmed that the arena "didn't sustain any damage" from Hurricane Sandy, but that the storm "forced the shutdown of public transportation throughout the tri-state area." This is "problematic because fans traveling to the Barclays Center are expected to rely heavily on public transportation." If fans instead choose to drive to the game, it "could cause major traffic headaches in the area surrounding the arena, which is ill-suited for heavy traffic" (ESPNNY.com, 10/30). In N.Y., Tim Bontemps writes the question now "becomes how many fans will be able to make the trip to attend the game." Getting to the arena via public transit is "likely to be extremely difficult, if not impossible" (N.Y. POST, 10/31). Also in N.Y., Howard Beck notes the NBA has "postponed 11 regular-season games since 2000, mostly because of severe weather and weather-related travel problems." But league officials have "set a high bar for what warrants a postponement." As a general rule, they will "allow a game to proceed as long as both teams and the referees can safely reach the arena, even if the game is played before only a few thousand fans" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/31).
CANCELLING THEIR PLANS: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes TNT "scrapped plans for its studio show to be on-site" for tomorrow night's Knicks-Nets game as the NBA "assessed whether that game could be staged given local hurricane damage." Turner Sports VP/Communications Nate Smeltz said, "We are planning to televise the game as scheduled." However, the pregame show "will stay in its Atlanta studio" (USA TODAY, 10/31).
Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov said his management style is to “find the best people available and then give them free rein to do their work,” according to Steve Serby of the N.Y. POST. Prokhorov said, “It would be silly for me to interfere in questions that really are not my area of expertise. At the same time, with independence comes accountability.” Prokhorov participated in a recent Q&A and the following is an excerpt from that interview:
Q: Why did you want to own an NBA team so badly?
Prokhorov: This was just a wonderful opportunity -- a down-and-out franchise about to make a historic move to Brooklyn, a new arena, a chance to really build something and make my mark. I wasn't interested in buying any team at any price. I really wanted a big market, and when this opportunity came along with a great partner in Bruce Ratner it was obviously the right thing to do.
Q: Why will you be [Knicks Owner James] Dolan and the Knicks’ worst nightmare?
Prokhorov: Having a rivalry in New York is great for everyone. This city will have so much to talk about and cheer about.
Q: Why should [Heat F LeBron James] and other free agents want to play for the Brooklyn Nets?
Prokhorov: If two years ago we had to tell potential players about our vision for the team, now they can actually see it. I honestly can’t imagine any players not wanting to look seriously at our franchise (N.Y. POST, 10/30).
MIC CHECK: In a special to the N.Y. TIMES, Nets play-by-play announcer Marv Albert wrote, “When I call their first regular-season game at Barclays Center, on Thursday night against the Knicks, I will not be curious about whether the move from New Jersey will go well. It will. I will want to know if a hard-core Nets crowd will be at the arena. One of my measuring sticks for the success of the Brooklyn Nets will be their ability to overwhelm the sound and presence of Knicks fans.” He added, “Around the city, people keep asking me about the Nets -- at a rate that I never thought possible.” The Nets are “a likable group, and even without playing a game they’ve become popular.” Albert: “I think they’ll win over kids who haven’t developed loyalties yet.” The Nets are “finally being embraced, perhaps for the first time since Julius Erving’s heyday.” The Nets now can challenge the Knicks “as they never did from Long Island, Piscataway, the swamps of New Jersey or Newark” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/30).
Twitter is a major platform for journalists to break stories, share work and chat with fans. The most popular national NBA writers claim several hundred thousand followers, while local writers may attract as many as 40,000. The most-followed NBA writer in THE DAILY’s survey of Twitter accounts is ESPN's Chris Broussard, with more than 530,000 followers. The list below shows Twitter followers for many of the top national and local NBA writers, as well as for other NBA-related feeds. In addition, THE DAILY conducted an e-mail roundtable with three leading national NBA writers -- Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, NBA.com’s David Aldridge and TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott -- on their Twitter use and how its explosion has changed sports media.
NOTE: The number of Twitter followers listed for each feed was current as of this morning.
WRITER SITE/PUBLICATIONTWITTER FOLLOWERS Chris Broussard ESPN532,734 Adrian Wojnarowski Yahoo Sports312,096 Marc Stein ESPN215,556 David Aldridge NBA.com193,916 Marc Spears Yahoo Sports117,523 John Hollinger ESPN116,669 SLAM magazine107,035 HoopsHype86,508 Brian Windhorst ESPN82,500 Henry Abbott TrueHoop (ESPN)62,544 Chris Sheridan SheridanHoops.com48,162 Chris Mannix SI44,794 Ken Berger CBSSports.com44,244 Sam Amick USA Today38,174 Howard Beck N.Y. Times37,558 Frank Isola N.Y. Daily News35,394 Zach Lowe Grantland34,727 Ira Winderman South Florida Sun-Sentinel31,488 Tim Reynolds AP29,783 Dime magazine28,174 Aldridge first viewed Twitter as an annoyance,
but gradually gained an appreciation for the site
Aldridge: I started in September of 2010, I think. At the time I viewed it as an annoyance, another baby bird to feed, because I didn't think anyone could say anything important in 140 words. It was soon pointed out to me that it was 140 characters, not words, which only lowered my opinion of the medium. Of course, now, I am tethered to it like Ed White to Gemini IV. (Kids! Ask your grandparents who Ed White was! Or Gemini IV, for that matter.) There was no particular "aha!" moment of revelation; just a gradual understanding that this is where the eyeballs were and you weren't serving your audience if you weren't here as well.
Wojnarowski: Prior to the 2009 NBA Draft, I was discussing with our editor, Johnny Ludden, about trying to find a way to get all the information I was gathering leading up to the draft -- and especially during the draft -- onto the website before it was obsolete. In many instances, I had the information on draft picks about to be chosen well before the names were announced on the podium in New York -- as well as trades, etc. While we had dumb looks on our faces, his fiancee, Jennifer Banda, looked up and said to us, "Put it on Twitter." Johnny and I said, "Oh. Good idea." And that's when I started @WojYahooNBA.
Abbott: When I first started TrueHoop, the comments were densel- packed smart talk. Or at least, that's how I remember them. Then the site got more popular, moved to ESPN, and before long a lot of the comments had more of a catty teenager vibe. So ... where did all those smartypants interesting people go to talk about the NBA? At some point a couple of years ago it became pretty clear the answer was Twitter. Once you know the cool kids are there, it ends up making sense to play that crowd. I remember an editor once telling me to step up my Twitter game, and I'm glad I did.
Q: How has Twitter changed the way you report stories? What are some upsides/downsides to using social media?
Abbott: My favorite stories are very thoughtful, and in being so spazzy (I follow something like 1,600 people), Twitter can be an enemy of lucidity. I make no attempt to know everything on Twitter, nor to be early to every topic. There's a kind of zen thing you have to learn -- like when you're fishing you have to accept you will be aware of far more fish than you can catch. However, I'd never want to go without it. When you want to know what people are thinking, 1,600 people are ready to fill you in around the clock.
Aldridge: You report first on Twitter now. I think everyone I work with understands that the immediacy of the medium makes it the best place to give folks the headline. You then get them to your website with the detailed story in the next few minutes, and flesh it out with more info as you get it. Of course, the demand and competition produce incredible pressure to be first. I still prefer being right over being first, which means you don't get credit for the "scoop" a lot of times while you're waiting for confirmation from additional sources. But that's life in the big city. I try not to respond to the yahoos with Twitter Muscles who say nasty things, but I do tell them -- and everyone else -- that they're getting blocked.
Wojnarowski: It hasn't changed the way I report stories. The process is precisely the same: Report relentlessly, get it right and try real hard to get it first. In most instances, I'll post breaking news on twitter before I file a story to Yahoo. If I don't do that, there's a good chance I'll get beat waiting for the story to get posted on the site. As soon as the story link is live on Yahoo, I'll post the link to Twitter. Ultimately, Twitter allows you to gain ownership of the story and its details. To me, the upside is that it's an immediate scoreboard. No longer can organizations take credit for stories that another has broken. Everyone sees everything and we're all accountable on a moment-to-moment basis; as we should be. Who gets it first is important. But I've always understood you can break 100 stories in a row, but people will remember the one you got wrong. So don't screw it up.
Wojnarowski says he sees an increase in Twitter
followers when he breaks news
Abbott: Not sure I have seen trends to their arrival ... other than after some multimillion-follower account like @ESPN or @NBA retweets something of mine.
Wojnarowski: It's always a good reminder to me of why people follow me on twitter -- they want breaking news. My follower numbers always spike when I've broken a big story, and around times of the year when the most breaking news is coming down -- the February trade deadline, the June draft and July free agency. Also, I found the NBA lockout to be a great opportunity to gain Twitter followers and drive traffic on stories, because I was able to break a lot of stories on the talks and people seemed to eager to get the information.
Aldridge: I'm not counting each one as they come aboard but I have a general sense they're going up. The lockout produced a major spike; people were hanging on every negotiation and every piece of info you could give them. During one of the long sessions that lasted 12-14 hours I had people writing in from six of the seven continents -- the only holdout was Antarctica. It was breakfast time in Europe and Africa, late afternoon in China and the middle of the night in New York where I was. Crazy. The draft, trade deadline and start of free agency on July 1 are also big times when I pick up followers.
Q: Who are your favorite Twitter follows around the NBA?
Aldridge: I love @FakeCoachPop. Brilliant. Obviously keep track of my Turner peeps, the competition and many of the players, but most of them don't say much other than what they had for breakfast.
Wojnarowski: For me, it's Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports. We work together to try and make Yahoo dominant on a day-to-day basis, and never care much which one of us is breaking a story -- as long as it's Yahoo Sports breaking the story, or telling a great tale. I'm not on twitter to be entertained, or goof around with people. It's an important part of our jobs, important to Yahoo's web presence and that's always my focus there.
Abbott: There are so many good ones. @johnhollinger @HoopIdea @KevinArnovitz @BeckleyMason @Byliner @Highway_30 @AminESPN @mindofAI9
Q: Are there times when you shut down Twitter?
Aldridge: I try to walk away, but it pulls me back in. I'll read but not respond while on vacation.
Abbott: If I'm parenting, writing, sleeping, eating, working out ... Many hours of the day Twitter simply has to manage without me. Which it's very good at.
Wojnarowski: I'm definitely off it, because my concentration isn't on what my competitors are writing or tweeting about, but working my own sources to stay ahead of the news, to know what's coming, to get it first and try and make others react to Yahoo!
Abbott estimates that 95% of his tweets
are NBA related
Abbott: I'm 95% NBA, but man, one of my favorite Twitter moments ever was when the U.S. played England in the 2010 World Cup. Bed-ridden, fever-ravaged, obliterated by shortness of sleep, pneumonia and everything else, I was stranded on some hotel bed in Boston trying to find a doctor who would see me on a Saturday afternoon. In the middle of all that, the TV was on and America tied the game with, essentially, an England own-goal, off the hands of their keeper. The game finished 1-1. I tweeted one sentence about the English team being so polite, scoring one goal for each team. I'm sure it was more retweeted than anything I had tweeted before. The warm response lifted my spirits almost as much as the barrage of cold drugs and antibiotics I got from Mass General an hour or two later.
Wojnarowski: I have done so in the past, but very rarely. My belief is that less is more on twitter. People don't want me clogging their timelines with failed attempts at humor, or my political beliefs, etc. They come to me for the information on the NBA, and that's what I try to give them around the clock. It isn't about me; it's about the people and events that I cover. I try to remind myself of that every day.
Aldridge: I like talking with people about a lot of sports -- baseball, football, college basketball, hockey. I'm a sports fan. I really am interested in politics but no matter how much I write something down the middle, with no bent one way or the other, I get so much flak. I wrote that I thought [moderator] Martha Raddatz, not [Joe] Biden or [Paul] Ryan, did a good job in the vice presidential debate, and people on the right went crazy. Then I said I thought both Romney and Obama did a good job in the second debate, and people on the left called me out. You can't win.
Q: The NBA fanbase trends younger than other pro leagues. Do you see that difference in how you and your followers use Twitter? What differences do you see between NBA players/media Twitter usage and that in other sports?
Aldridge: For me, there is a recognition that most fans on Twitter are younger and you have to take that into account when you post things. There may not be that institutional memory there.
Wojnarowski: I do sense a lot of younger followers on Twitter. College kids, twentysomethings. And that's great, because it gives you hope that what you do will have an audience for years to come.
Abbott: I only cover the one sport, but seeing how thoroughly NBA players embrace the medium, I dare any other sport to try to catch up.
The Hornets yesterday announced a new agreement with New Orleans Arena's management company, SMG and Centerplate, that will "mean lower prices on a number of items," according to Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. The team said that the "price of a 16-ounce draft beer will drop from $8 to $6 ... in concert with the team's Friday Night 12-game packages." Enhanced "pregame parties and live music will be presented at Champions Square on those nights." There also will be "a 25-cent price cut on water." In a separate agreement, Pepsi will "serve as the official soft drink" of the team and the arena. Other Pepsi products such as Mountain Dew and Slice "will be available" while Evamore "will now be the official water." Cadbury-Schweppes was the arena's previous non-alcoholic beverage provider (NOLA.com, 10/30).
Charter has signed a long-term distribution deal to carry FS New Orleans on an expanded basic tier, just in time to carry the Hornets' season-opener tonight against the Spurs. The deal with Charter, the area's third-largest distributor, gives FS New Orleans full distribution in the market with more than 2.5 million homes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Charter last year carried the Hornets' rights holder, Cox Sports TV, on a sports tier (John Ourand, THE DAILY). Meanwhile, the team yesterday announced an agreement with ESPN Deportes WODT-AM for the '12-13 season to broadcast all 82 regular-season games in Spanish. Emilio Peralta and David Lopez will handle the announcer duties, beginning with tonight's game (Hornets).
PEOPLE & PERSONALITIES: Longtime Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan has joined NBA TV as a contributor and made his debut last night during the net's season preview show. Ryan will be featured in several authored essays that will air on NBA TV throughout the season (THE DAILY)....Basketball HOFer Nancy Lieberman on Friday will make her debut as the new analyst on FS Oklahoma's "Thunder Live" pregame and postgame shows. FS Oklahoma will televise 70 Thunder games in '12-13 (Fox Sports)....ESPN today announced it has added former NBAer Antonio Davis and former NBA coach Flip Saunders as NBA studio analysts. Other changes this season include bringing in former NBA ref Steve Javie as a regular contributor for rules analysis and signing former Trail Blazers GM Tom Penn to a long-term contract to offer up a management perspective (ESPN).
The Cavaliers this season plan to test a new smartphone app called Mascot Secret that will allow fans to “pay a few more dollars to upgrade to a better seat" at Quicken Loans Arena, according to Robert Smith of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The app was designed by Donna Lee and Jennifer Jeng, who “brought their idea from the West Coast to Bizdom, the start-up accelerator" founded by Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert. Lee and Jeng "propose a system where a fan would be offered a menu of potential upgrades before and during games.” Cavs President Len Komoroski said that while the strategy "remains a concept ... it's one that addresses needs of both the team and its fans.” He added that “maybe a fan is happy with their seat … And maybe not.” Komoroski: “Wouldn’t it be great if you could chose a different seat? This presents a platform to be able to execute on that. And it gives us latitude.” Smith notes Mascot Secret and the Cavs "would share the proceeds," but the team would get to decide "which seats to make available and at what price." Fans would “pay for upgrades via their mobile phone, which would produce a display that serves as their new ticket.” However, challenges “loom, both social and technical.” The app “must work seamlessly with a team’s ticketing operations.” Meanwhile, “there’s a brand to protect.” But Cavs Dir of Digital Marketing & Operations Mike Maleski said that the "possibilities are too intriguing to ignore” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/31).
In Portland, Mike Tokito writes new Trail Blazers President & CEO Chris McGowan will “bring an expertise in ticket sales, an open mind and a willingness to let the basketball staff run the basketball operations.” McGowan said that he has “spent most of his career trying to sell out arenas and believes he can help try to keep the [Blazers 192-game sellout] streak alive.” GM Neil Olshey said that he “preferred a new president who could handle the team’s business affairs while allowing Olshey the space to run basketball operations.” Tokito notes 60 of the team’s games are on Comcast SportsNet Northwest, which is “not available on several major non-Comcast Cable providers.” Newly appointed Vulcan Sports & Entertainment CEO Peter McLoughlin said that he “intends to speak with” NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus and NBC Sports Group President Jon Litner, whose company runs the CSN RSNs. McLoughlin: “Now that I’m in this role, I intend to get into it with them and see what I can do to help” (Portland OREGONIAN, 10/31).
SUNS RISE: In Phoenix, Paul Coro notes the Suns “have been able to get close to a 90 percent renewal rate on season tickets.” Suns President Jason Rowley said that the team is “approaching the 9,500 mark for full-season-equivalent ticket sales.” Coro adds that number is “on par with the league’s renewal rate that has it on pace to set a record for season-ticket revenue.” Rowley said that the Suns are “'up significantly’ from last season’s total while the league has seen a 15 percent bump in season-ticket sales.” The Suns and Phoenix invested $3M and $7M, respectively, in “replacements and repairs this summer on the 20-year-old city-owned arena, including more than 7,000 new seats” at U.S. Airways Center. The “entire upper deck is getting new seating, with about 90 percent of it in place.” All suite seats and those in the Blue Moon Club, “the prime lower-bowl seats formerly known as Toyota Club, have been replaced.” The remainder of seats will be “replaced by next year” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/31).
AD SENSE: In S.F., Rusty Simmons noted the Warriors hired advertising firm MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER to “develop the team’s TV commercials to tip off the season.” The commercials, which were “shot in September when the players were working out in Oakland, are currently running in the Bay Area and feature players training on the court and in the gym” (SFGATE.com, 10/30).
REEL CHICAGO’s Lewis Lazare reported Illinois-based CDW’s new campaign breaking this month from Ogilvy/Chicago stars Basketball HOFer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley. In the spot, the “milieu and Barkley’s focus have changed to the golf links, where he has been dubbed the client golfer -- the guy who makes a point of losing so the client can look good.” Several of the spots “have been carefully constructed to make it appear Barkley barely knows how to hit a golf ball, let alone make shots and win rounds of golf.” But “unfortunately, the CDW spots built around him to demonstrate his staged incompetence allow the likable Barkley little opportunity to do much else except deliver his line or two of ad copy in deadpan fashion” (REELCHICAGO.com, 10/30).
SAY UNCLE: ESPN.com’s Lynn Hoppes noted Cavaliers G Kyrie Irving is “back once again” as “Uncle Drew” for a new Pepsi Max ad after his first spot in June “garnered more than 15 million views” on YouTube. In the latest commercial, Basketball HOFer Bill Russell “is making an appearance as Irving returns as an old basketball player fooling people on the court.” Irving said, “Working with Bill was an unbelievable experience” (ESPN.com, 10/29).
TOON TOWN: MEDIA POST’s Karl Greenberg reported the NBA is “launching a new chapter in its two-year-old program, ‘Hoop Troop,’ designed to entice kids to get into basketball.” The new effort features “five animated basketball-themed characters who will appear online starting on Monday and later at events and on TV.” The NBA said that the characters are aimed at “growing the game of basketball among boys and girls ages 6-12.” The characters will debut on NBAHoopTroop.com, a "joint venture site” for the NBA and Cartoon Network. They also will appear in “other digital elements as well as in print and television advertising campaigns throughout the season” (MEDIAPOST.com, 10/30).
ICE, ICE, BABY: USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham notes Clippers F Blake Griffin and U.S. women’s national soccer team G Hope Solo “have invested” in a new company called Hyperice that “makes a new gadget for dealing with sports injuries.” Griffin appears with the Hyperice device, which he has been “showing off in online videos.” Griffin said, “Instead of a plastic bag of ice, you fill the Hyperice with ice, push the nozzle, and get ice across the joint, not just one area. The valve allows air to be released” (USA TODAY, 10/31).