While watching part 10 of David’s Stern Words to the rank and file NBA players during his latest sham of a news conference, which followed the latest sham of a negotiating session, which is just the latest chapter in the Greatest Sham the NBA Has Ever Seen, I started realizing the hard truth of the NBA, the fans don’t matter for anything. Apparently our dollars don’t even matter. We are the shit pile on the bottom of the food pyramid, where even the bacteria get to eat us, and shit us back out, to perpetuate the ever growing shit pile that is what the NBA and NBPA view us as a whole. Then I started to get mad. Then I started to think of the things I would demand of the NBA before I started tuning back in, assuming that is we lost a full season.
1) Variable Ticket Pricing
Every single person who has ever purchased a ticket to an NBA game (for a popular team anyway) knows how dramatically out of whack ticket prices are as compared to the product being displayed. A regular season home game is 1 of 41, and of those 41 games, perhaps 25% are against quality opponents. So ticket prices for the other 75% of the games are subsidizing the prices for the 25% that are watchable. Its time for the NBA to adjust its pricing strategy to reflect the quality of games. A system that I think could work has an equation that adjusts ticket prices based on factors such as last season’s W-L record, historical attendance records against the opponent, or based on a class in which opponents of particular characteristics are grouped together to form three or four different ticket classes. It’s not an exact science, but it adjusts the market for tickets such that a middle-income family of four may be able to pay 75% of the normal ticket price for a game against the lowly Kings, while a high-income family of four may be able to pay 125% of the normal price to see the Lakers take on the Heat. It would definitely increase attendance in small-market arenas, and would broaden the support base for big-market teams.
2) All-Star Game v. 2.0
The one outstanding failure of the David Stern regime has been the systematic degradation of the All-Star game. What used to be the premiere fan event of the NBA season has turned into a farce, where B and C level NBA players compete against each other in “skills” competitions, and the actual elite play in a game that has no meaning, defense or integrity at all. The game needs to be changed. Fans should be able to vote in dunk contest participants, who after being $1 million for their appearance, cannot refuse to participate (except for legitimate injury that causes regular season games to be missed). The 3 point shooting contest is actually still pretty good, but its hard to fuck that one up. But the other skills stuff needs to go entirely. That “shooting stars” one with WNBA players is nice, but no one gives a shit and it shouldn’t push the dunk contest to 10 PM. The Dunk contests should be on at 8, it should only be two rounds, four players, two dunks per player. Total overall score wins. No fan voting, and if you keep fan voting, its not allowed to start before the final round even begins.
3) Ownership Voting
When owners in the NBA started caring more about turning a profit than catering to the health of their team, shit really started going down hill. Fans should have the ability to force the NBA Board of Governors to take votes of no confidence for existing owners, triggering automatic sell provisions, if there is a certain threshold of fans for any given team that have petitioned the NBA to review the ownership credentials of any one NBA team. I’m not sure what the criteria would be, or how you would legitimize the voting, but there is no way Donald Sterling, Jim Dolan, Paul Allen, Goerge Shinn, or the random guys that own the Hawks should be able to skate by for decades while systematically eroding fan bases and the quality of the league as a whole.
4) Season Tickets
As a testament to the popularity of the NBA in some markets, there are lengthy waiting lists for season tickets, particularly in Chicago, LA and New York. I am not against the current system, but tickets need to be cheaper and need to be more accessible to the general public. The single day tickets are expensive as it is, and if you want a season ticket package you have almost no hope if you aren’t making 6 figures or more. One way to do this is to encourage more partial season ticket packages by hosting online auctions where blocks of games can be bought in auction format, to eventually come up with a 41 game package for a various people, who don’t necessarily know each other. This would bring the overall price of games down, while not forcing people to spend 10k plus on entire packages and then resell games on their own.
5) Courtside Seat Lottery
This is admittedly the least likely of all of the above from actually happening, but my roommate and I envisioned a system where 25% of courtside seats, for perhaps 25% of the games, go into a general fan lottery. Do the Lakers really care about courtside seats to Memphis Grizzlies games? Its a great way to get fans involved with teams on non-game days, by holding raffles at specific locations for specific purposes. There can even be a charity aspect involved. But the reality is that 99% of NBA fans will never get to experience this, and it would be an ideal way for the NBA to show its fans that its not just the dollars in their pockets that they care about.
6) THE BIG ONE: Teams Leaving Their Current Cities
Of course, its hard to believe that they care about anything else except dollars when they move our teams. The SuperSonics leaving Seattle is the gut wrenching NBA move of our time. The NFL had the Baltimore Colts, the NHL lost Winnipeg until briefly. There is no excuse for what happened to Seattle. The NBA Board of Governors failed miserably in its selection of new ownership for the team, and the result was a dog and pony show that eventually left Seattle at the altar. What a way to flip the bird to some of the league’s best fans. With Sacramento about to leave its rabid fan base for the not-very-exciting-or-very-interested-but-deep-pocketed Orange County crowd, the writing is on the wall for the NBA to keep on allowing this nonsense forever, as long as the economics make sense. Well on behalf of all Sacramento and Seattle fans: fuck you NBA. This should not be allowed without restitution to fans. Season ticket holders should be given 50% of their last year’s payment as severance for losing their teams. Local businesses should be allowed to sue the NBA for false promises, and most importantly, the average fan should be able to play 1 on 100 dodgeball with the moving owner. Head shots preferable.