Lakers Remain Top Draw In L.A. As Anthony Davis Comes Aboard
Fans and sponsors have "stuck by the Lakers" in recent seasons despite the team's playoff drought, and their business is "thriving" as they head into next season with Anthony Davis now alongside LeBron James, according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. No pro team in L.A. has "gone longer without making the playoffs," and only two of the 30 teams in the NBA have "gone longer without making a postseason appearance." But after the Davis trade was announced, there was "no run on season tickets because almost all of them were sold already." Lakers President of Business Operations Tim Harris said the percentage of season-ticket holders that have renewed for next season is in the “high 90s" -- with a payment deadline two months before the Davis trade, and with a price increase in the “double digits.” Lakers Media Relations Dir Alison Bogli said the team maintains a waiting list “in the thousands.” Harris added that their corporate sponsors have not canceled "because their interest is less about wins and losses and more about reaching potential customers." The Lakers and Dodgers "remain the dominant teams in the market, but there are signs of erosion in the Lakers’ fan base." In a '14 survey, 43% of L.A. county residents "selected the Lakers as their favorite pro sports team and 30% selected the Dodgers." In a '18 survey, 38% "favored the Dodgers and 30% favored the Lakers." Among newcomers to the city, the percentage choosing the Lakers as their favorite team dropped from 60% in '14 to 27% in '18 (L.A. TIMES, 6/19).
BIG GAME HUNTERS: In L.A., Dylan Hernandez writes, "Regardless of how dysfunctional they are, regardless of how buffoonish the owner is, the Lakers have a championship history and a desirable zip code." Much of the "attractiveness of the Lakers has been attributed to late owner Jerry Buss, and rightfully so." But big-name acquisitions like the Davis trade "predated Buss," and they "didn’t stop when Jim Buss inherited control" of the team's basketball operations. But now the Clippers are "smarter than the Lakers" under Controlling Owner & CEO Jeanie Buss' leadership. The Clippers have a "better idea of what they want to do." From Owner Steve Ballmer to coach Doc Rivers, they have "superior leadership." Hernandez: "And, somehow, they suddenly find themselves behind the Lakers" (L.A. TIMES, 6/19). In Atlanta, Steve Hummer writes, "Whatever is to be the outcome of the James-Davis collaboration, it certainly will play out fully before our eyes, because the Lakers are going to be on TV more than Stephen Colbert" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 6/19).