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The NBA yesterday “accepted” N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recommendation that the Nets' first-ever regular-season NBA game at Barclays Center scheduled for tonight "be postponed because of Hurricane Sandy’s lingering effects on the public transportation system,” according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The NBA’s “initial optimism -- expressed Tuesday in a tweet that said, ‘Knicks-Nets game will be played as scheduled this Thursday at 7 p.m.’ -- followed hopeful remarks by Bloomberg earlier that day when he said he hoped that the game would be played and that he expected to attend.” But expectations that the game would proceed were “eventually overwhelmed by the city’s assessment of the subway and rail obstacles created by the hurricane.” Bloomberg said that the “decision to seek the postponement ‘was all up to me.’” NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said that the league was also “swayed by traffic reports that it was extremely difficult to maneuver in Downtown Brooklyn.” Silver said, “But ultimately, it was the mayor’s call.” Barclays Center and Nets CEO Brett Yormark said that he "would try to reschedule the game for a date before the end of the year." Sandomir notes the NBA “prefers not to postpone games; it has previously postponed 11 regular-season games since 2000, primarily because of severe weather or weather-related travel problems.” Additionally, the Knicks’ practice facility in Greenburgh, N.Y., "had a power outage for an hour” yesterday, while the Nets’ facility in East Rutherford, N.J., has “been without power since the storm hit, with its first floor flooded.” Nets coach Avery Johnson said that the facility “might not be available for two weeks” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/1). Yormark prior to Bloomberg’s announcement yesterday morning “went on WFAN to laud the decision to play the game, urging New Yorkers to use it as a source of inspiration.” He also said that “e-mails from season ticket holders indicated fans ‘overwhelmingly’ wanted" to play the game Thursday (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/1).
GOOD CALL: In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan writes under the header, “Mayor Bloomberg Made Right Decision On Knicks-Nets Game.” Post-hurricane N.Y. is “a place where sports do not yet belong.” Bloomberg “did the right thing” in postponing the game, “correctly realizing how frivolous the image of a half-empty Barclays Center would appear in the midst of the sad, haunting pictures of damage.” Sullivan: “Now it’s time for him to do the same with Sunday’s New York City Marathon” (Bergen RECORD, 11/1). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Jason Gay writes under the header, “The Right Basketball Call” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/1). In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence writes NBA Commissioner David Stern “doesn’t normally take orders.” But when Bloomberg called yesterday “to say he thought that the league should postpone Brooklyn’s big night ... the commissioner did the right thing” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/1). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser praised the decision, saying, "You cannot get in or out of New York City and I don’t think you should have a gala opening at a brand-new arena if it’s going to be half-full because people can’t get there." ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said, “In terms of the city’s mood, I’m sure people are preoccupied with more important things than basketball right now” ("PTI," ESPN, 10/31). ESPN N.Y.’s Ian O’Connor wrote, “If David Stern thought playing basketball in the immediate wake of Hurricane Sandy would be a great way to kick off his retirement tour as NBA commissioner, he should have retired a long time ago.” The choice to play the game “despite the fatalities, injuries and cataclysmic loss of property suffered in the region might not have matched Pete Rozelle's decision to play football after President Kennedy's assassination, but it would've been close enough” (ESPNNY.com, 10/31).
KNICKS-HEAT FRIDAY STILL ON: In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman notes Friday's Heat-Knicks game "would be played as scheduled.” Yesterday an NBA team official “explained privately that the league's policy for whether games are to be played comes down to whether two teams, three referees and a playable court are available.” The game “appears to meet such criteria, with no reported structural damage at Madison Square Garden” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/1). USA TODAY’s Jeff Zillgitt writes MSG “doesn’t face the same public transportation issues as Barclays Center, which relies heavily on mass transit.” There is “more parking in midtown Manhattan, although it could still be a struggle for fans to attend the game” (USA TODAY, 11/1). However, in West Palm Beach, Ethan Skolnick noted after postponing Knicks-Nets, the NBA “ought to do the same" with Heat-Knicks. Skolnick: “The idea of sending another team into New York City now -- or that city forced to deploy any resources at all to the game -- is ludicrous” (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 10/31).
SUPPLY & DEMAND: Brooklyn-based secondary ticket outlet Charged.fm Chief Innovation Officer Yves Darbouze said that fans seeking tickets for Heat-Knicks “can cop them for a relative bargain.” Darbouze said, “Some people are gunshy in the secondary market now. They’re worried they can’t get to the game. This year’s opener is nowhere near where it should be.” Darbouze said that “his site alone has nearly 100 tickets left and a total of 2,604 are floating on secondary markets for just one-third higher than face value.” In N.Y., Marc Berman notes the tickets “range from $191 to $1,352, very low for a Garden season opener” (N.Y. POST, 11/1).
EXIT TO BROOKLYN: In N.Y., Howard Beck writes the Nets’ arrival in N.Y. has “spawned a new breed of fan: the Knicks-to-Nets defector.” Beck: “They are the disillusioned, the angry, the hopeful. And their numbers appear to be growing, based on social media and anecdotal accounts.” But there is “no Gallup Poll for team allegiance, so the trend is hard to quantify.” Nets officials said that they “are not keeping track.” But “this much is known: The Nets have sold nearly 11,000 full-season tickets, triple the number from last season.” Most are “coming from Brooklyn (37 percent), Manhattan (23 percent) and Nassau County (6 percent).” It is “doubtful they all became basketball fans overnight, or were closet Nets fans all along.” It is “more likely that a great number are, in fact, Knicks apostates” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/1).
Yesterday's parade in downtown S.F. to honor the Giants' World Series victory was attended by an “estimated 1 million-plus people," according to Bulwa, Fagan, Berton & Tucker of the S.F. CHRONICLE. In some places along the parade route, fans “stood 20 to 50 deep to catch a glimpse of their baseball heroes.” Giants and S.F. Police officials said that the crowd was “slightly more” than the number that attended the team’s ’10 parade. City officials reported “little trouble beyond 22 arrests -- mostly for drunk and disorderly offenses -- and the rain staying away until evening.” If there was “any complaint to be made, it was that the players rode in cars this time instead of the faux cable cars used in 2010” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/1). In N.Y., Jason Turbow writes the “show of force by Giants fans was no less impressive than the last time such a party was thrown -- after the team’s equally surprising 2010 championship” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/1). MLB.com’s John Schlegel noted S.F. Mayor Ed Lee “took it a step further, also presenting the team with the ‘broom to the city,’ symbolic of the Giants' sweep of the Tigers in four games.” Schlegel wrote, “From a performance of ‘Gangnam Style’ and the dance that goes with it to a live rendition of ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’ by Tony Bennett, the Giants' celebration covered a lot of ground.” The parade “included more of the mutual love that has blossomed” between the Giants and the 49ers, with QB Alex Smith driving the convertible for Giants P Matt Cain and coach Jim Harbaugh driving 1B Brandon Belt (MLB.com, 10/31). In Sacramento, Matt Kawahara writes, “The civic pride was infectious.” The “outrageousness of 2010, when [former Giants 1B] Aubrey Huff produced his red ‘rally thong’ on stage, was mostly missing” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 11/1).
POLITICAL STATEMENT? In L.A., Maria La Ganga notes Giants P Sergio Romo, who is of Mexican descent, “eschewed the Giants' championship attire in favor of a navy blue T-shirt that read: ‘I JUST LOOK ILLEGAL.’” Giants Spanish-language broadcaster Tito Fuentes said to the crowd on hand, “I told Sergio, that T-shirt, I really love it. And I came prepared. I might look illegal, but I got my card.” Fuentes' comments came "as he waved what appeared to be his green card" (L.A. TIMES, 11/1). In San Jose, Matt O'Brien reports, "Within hours, an obscure Los Angeles T-shirt company was taking dozens of orders for the shirt." Wicky Tees Founder Jack Chan said that he sold "only about 40 of the shirts since they were designed two years ago." He added that he "was surprised to sell more than 100 Wednesday afternoon at $12 each" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 11/1).
THE COST OF SUCCESS: Lee said that he “expected the cost to be similar to city expenses for the 2010 championship parade.” In S.F., Cote & Knight ask, “So how much was that?” Lee’s Communications Dir Christine Falvey yesterday said that she “didn't know the amount.” Falvey: “I'm not going to have a number for you today." But she “promised to have a number in the next few days.” The Giants are “picking up production costs of the parade, which they calculated to be about” $1M. The city is “responsible for public safety, cleanup and other city functions” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/1).
The Nationals this offseason "will almost certainly reach new boundaries with their payroll," according to Adam Kilgore of the WASHINGTON POST. The Nats "already have roughly" $87M committed to their '13 payroll, and "some way or another, the Nationals seem likely to push past" a $100M payroll this winter for the first time. The team's payroll in '12 was approximately $92.5M, "by far their highest" since the team moved to DC. The Nats have "several players under contract" who are due more in '13 than they made in '12. However, that "should not necessarily be constricting." The team "will receive increased revenue from MASN whenever their protracted, bitter standoff with [Orioles Owner] Peter Angelos is finally settled." The Nats' attendance rose by about 400,000 fans from '11 to '12, and they can "expect another large jump next season." The team "could have one of the 10 highest payrolls in baseball this year, but that would be in line with the state of the franchise and the market in which it exists." The Nats need "to be careful long-term, because core players" such as SS Ian Desmond, Ps Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg, and CF Bryce Harper "will become eligible for free agency in the coming years." They "already have" RF Jayson Werth and 3B Ryan Zimmerman signed to long-term, $100M deals, and "no team has bottomless pockets" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 10/31).
Pistons Owner Tom Gores last night said that he is “committed to long-term ownership of the team, did not exclude interest in moving downtown someday, expects the Pistons to make the postseason whether it's realistic or not, and sees growth in the team,” according to David Mayo of the FLINT JOURNAL. He said that even after “extensive renovations of the players' facilities and fan portions of The Palace of Auburn Hills, it is not out of the question that the Pistons could move downtown as part of an arena proposal someday.” Gores said, "I don't think you want to leave it and just say, 'Nice to see you,' to the Palace. I don't want to do that. In the meantime, if the future is downtown, and that's what we have to do to grow, I'm not against that." But until that “hypothetical bears fruit,” Gores said that he is “committed to the Palace, which he owns.” Meanwhile, he said that he “generally is pleased with how the Pistons are progressing" under President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars and coach Lawrence Frank. Gores said that he has “playoff expectations.” But he added, "There's no ultimatum that says, 'If you don't make the playoffs, you're gone.' We don't work that way." He said that he “didn't know how often he would be present for games, even though he now occupies four mid-court, court-side seats opposite the team benches” (FLINT JOURNAL, 11/1). Gores called himself a "now person." He said that he “understands that ‘now’ isn't exactly the best time for his franchise.” In Detroit, Drew Sharp writes “failure isn't in the man's vocabulary” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 11/1).
DETROIT ROCK CITY: In Detroit, Terry Foster writes the Pistons “still know how to throw a good party.” Their home opener against the Rockets last night was “a spectacle that looked Olympian.” Foster: “If you are into dance and music, The Palace is the place to be. Owner Tom Gores has brought Hollywood to Detroit. Now if only he could bring the Lakers.” The Pistons are “at least entertaining,” but they are “not ready for prime time just yet” (DETROIT NEWS, 11/1).
TRICK, NO TREAT: USATODAY.com's Tim McGarry noted the Pistons "had big plans for their 'Halloween Spectacular' halftime show" last night, but with 58 seconds left in the second quarter, play "was halted due to excessive fog behind the basket." One of the fog machines for the show "started ahead of schedule, sending Palace employees into a frenzy" (USATODAY.com, 10/31).
MLB Rangers President Nolan Ryan’s company, Ryan-Sanders Entertainment (RSE), is "believed to be negotiating through Beacon Sports Capital Partners to own a minority share in the Eastern League (Double-A) franchise poised to set up shop in Ottawa in 2014," according to Don Campbell of the OTTAWA CITIZEN. RSE "already owns" the Triple-A PCL Round Rock Express and Double-A Texas League Corpus Christi Hooks. RSE "has had great success promoting minor league baseball and events" at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi and Dell Diamond in Round Rock. Whataburger Field was "voted top minor league venue" in both '08 and '09 by Minor League News. It is thought RSE will "play a key role in revitalizing Ottawa Stadium, once home to record-breaking International League crowds when it first opened in 1993." The Ottawa ownership negotiations are "nearing the 11th hour in order to be ready for Ottawa City Council to make final approval next month" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 11/1).
The GLOBE & MAIL’s Bruce Dowbiggin writes there is a “great opportunity” for the Raptors in “victory-deprived southern Ontario” during the NHL lockout. The Toronto-area sports scene is "ripe to embrace a winner, any winner." Dowbiggin writes, “Win 35 games and the locals will take you to their heart. Win 40 games and they might throw you a parade down Yonge Street.” Still, the Raptors “lack a certain basketball je ne sais quoi.” Dowbiggin: “Is it too much to ask for a pinch of magic dust? Just a little glitter to get [TSN announcer] Rod Black’s cliche machine rolling?" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/1).
CLEVELAND'S ROCK? In Cleveland, Bud Shaw wrote because Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert is “invested emotionally and financially,” he has “stood out as the city's favorite owner against ... less than stiff competition.” All fans ask of a Cleveland owner “is that he want to win and be willing to spend to do it,” and that is “an awfully low bar.” Gilbert has “benefited from it to some extent during an arduous rebuild,” and has “improved the game-night experience" at Quicken Loans Arena in addition to building a new Cavs practice facility (CLEVELAND.com, 10/31).
SWIM WITH THE DOLPHINS: In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis reported the Dolphins are “waiving service fees on purchases” from noon ET today until noon Friday to “help drive ticket sales” for the remaining home games at Sun Life Stadium. The special offer “includes all of the team’s remaining home games and will eliminate the processing/convenience fees, credit card fees and standard delivery costs associated with the costs of purchasing a game ticket.” The no-fee offer is “available exclusively on dolphins.com” (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 10/31).