NBA Lockout Watch, Day 125: The “Eerie” Sounds Of Silence On Opening Night
The NBA was scheduled to start its ‘11-12 regular season with three games last night and more tonight, but the four-month-old lockout kept arenas dark. CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger wrote, "Welcome to opening night in the NBA, one of the most competitive and contested the sport has ever known. Sadly, the matchups are not Kobe Bryant vs. Kevin Durant or Dirk Nowitzki vs. Derrick Rose. It's lawyer vs. lawyer, owner vs. owner, agent vs. union and logic vs. ego" (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/1). In Ft. Worth, Dwain Price writes yesterday was "supposed to have been the long-awaited day when the Dallas Mavericks received their glitzy rings for winning the NBA championship last June." Instead the "restaurants, bars and streets near AAC looked like a virtual ghost town," and the "parking lots were nearly empty" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/2). ESPN DALLAS' Jeff Caplan writes under the header, "Eerie Silence On Would-Be Opening Night" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 11/2). In L.A., Mike Bresnahan writes under the header, "NBA Opening Night Is Quiet And Bitter" (L.A. TIMES, 11/2). In San Antonio, Jeff McDonald writes that “the lockout has affected the normal biorhythms of day-to-day life" and has "transformed opening night -- normally one of any season's red-letter days -- into just another Wednesday" (MYSANANTONIO.com, 11/2). In DC, Michael Lee writes the NBA has "come to a screeching halt, isn't coming back in November, and might not be back by Christmas" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/2).
FANS HAVE GROWING SENSE OF CONTEMPT: In Miami, Joseph Goodman writes basketball fans today "feel nothing but a growing sense of contempt." Arenas "remain empty and the No Basketball Association and its players continue to haggle over how to split their wealth" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/2). ESPN.com's J.A. Adande wrote the NBA and the players have "violated the sanctity of the schedule and failed to live up to their side of the covenant: provide games for fans to watch." Adande: “Will NBA fans come back to the arenas now that the owners and players have made it clear just how lowly the paying customers are regarded?" (ESPN.com, 11/1). ESPN.com's Andy Kamenetzky wrote, "Memo to Stern and Hunter: If you think fans were surly when the lost games were merely left to their imaginations, wait until you see the reaction after the reality check sets in" (ESPN.com, 11/1). In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes under the header, "Lack Of Tip-Off Ticks Off Fans." Vaccaro: "The NBA season starts to disappear bit by bit, like pieces removed from a jigsaw puzzle" (N.Y. POST, 11/2).
CAN YOU SPELL APATHY? In Chicago, Joe Cowley writes in many NBA markets, day 124 of the lockout "was met with apathy," and he puts the blame “solely on ownership." Cowley: "If you spend the last decade handing out bad contracts that you eventually can't afford, that's on you. And if NBA teams are going broke, let's see the books" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/2). In New Orleans, Jimmy Smith writes under the header, "New Orleans Hornets Fans Are Not Screaming For Action Just Yet" (NOLA.com, 11/2). In Denver, Patrick Saunders lists his five reasons why fans are "apparently so apathetic about the NBA." Saunders includes issues regarding money, league image and lack of parity. He also writes, "The college game is more entertaining," and the "NBA's regular season is a stale product" (DENVER POST, 11/2). ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil wrote, "College basketball is waiting in the wings for its star turn." The "irony is that college basketball is better in some part due to the instability of the NBA." Numerous college players "rolled the dice and left for the NBA early, undeterred by a potential lockout," but "more than a fair share stayed" (ESPN.com, 11/1).
LOCAL MARKET COVERAGE: In N.Y., Marc Berman reports when Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni arrived yesterday at an event for MSG's Garden of Dreams Coaches' Challenge, the media "was told not to ask D'Antoni about anything other than the charity competition." However, D'Antoni "was willing to vaguely talk about what he's been up to while labor negotiations took place fruitlessly" in Manhattan (N.Y. POST, 11/2). Asked about his players, D'Antoni said, "I can't even talk to you about it. I don't know where the line is, and I don't want to get near it" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/2). In Houston, Jonathan Feigen notes the Rockets have "been able to put" new coach Kevin McHale in community events during the lockout. The team has "a coach who is also a celebrity" and has "the ability to hold court." Every week "there have been functions with season-ticket holders, fans or corporate sponsors." Rockets CEO Tad Brown: "Kevin has been the person that people want to see the most, especially at this time. He's new. He's a Hall of Famer. And he's so outgoing and personable" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/2). In Phoenix, Paul Coro notes the Suns "have been proactive about keeping their brand alive and soothing public-relations issues while not being able to market current players." Instead of playing their season opener today, the Suns "will hand 1,968 (the team's inaugural year) orange nets at Valley schools, parks and recreation centers)" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/2). In Detroit, Vince Ellis writes Pistons fans "miss their hoops," and they "know something already has been lost even if the sides come to an agreement and can play most of an 82-game schedule." Former NBAer Chauncey Beard said, "It was a real hyped season last year, and now we have already missed preseason and it will probably get pushed back so it won't be on schedule. I just wish they could have got it worked out like the NFL did" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 11/2).