Monday, January 25, 2010

More potshots from "professional journalism"

This time, it's the Washington Post.
I like the NBA -- I'm not saying it's FAN-tastic, I'm not saying it's where amazing happens, I'm not saying I love this game -- I just like it. I like it enough to provide a comprehensive report on the NBA at midseason:

Kevin Durant is the best player you'll never see (unless you never see that online poker pro from Sweden who wins, like, $3 million a day). When I have grazed upon NBA-TV on occasion, I've stumbled on an Oklahoma City Thunder game. I don't even know where Oklahoma City is -- I assume it's in Oklahoma; maybe Kansas -- and can't imagine anyone playing basketball in Oklahoma City.

By the way, since when does the NBA have a team in Oklahoma City? I thought only the NHL did stuff like that.

How does anyone even get to call themselves a "professional journalist" after saying something like that? Not quite sure where OKC is, probably somewhere in Oklahoma, but possibly in Kansas.. and how can this guy proclaim that the NBA shouldn't be in OKC..afterall, only the NHL does stuff like that?

Since when does the NBA "do stuff like that?" Well, obviously it happened long before OKC. The NBA has a track record of being very successful in smaller, less prominent markets that aren't quite as small as "medium-sized" cities. In other words, the NBA has traditionally LOVED to take a chance on a larger mid-major city that's showed signs of becoming a major city.

The San Antonio Spurs have, for decades, been one of the most successful franchises in the league. The Seattle Supersonics literally put Seattle on the map back in the 60s, just as for many neanderthals, it has put OKC on the map, albeit somewhere vaguely in Oklahoma, possibly in Kansas. When the New Orleans Jazz moved to Salt Lake City, it marked the possibilities that can exist in brand-new "major cities."

What constitutes a city's fresh ascendancy to "major city" status from "mid-major city" status? Hard to tell--but whatever it is, it is the difference that exists between cities such as Charlotte, Nashville, and San Antonio, and cities such as Omaha, Tulsa, and Little Rock. It is from the latter camp that OKC hails, whereas it is the premier group that OKC is headed for. Anyone who can't see that is blind to all of the positive movement and growth that has occurred in OKC in the last 10 years.

Granted, sometimes taking a chance on a rising market has failed for the NBA. Moving the Grizz from Vancouver to Memphis has been a huge failure. The FedEx Forum is a great facility, Memphis is a truly "great" city, they have a basketball (and sports in general) culture there second to none, and yet the NBA can't compete with Memphis State collegiate basketball and they just can't get butts in seats. Sometimes a city is just a dud, and sometimes there are signs suggesting a move won't go over so well, but a lot of times, there's no way to tell. And even more often, bad ownership can lead to a franchise that just deteriorates over prolonged periods of time. Once a market deteriorates it's often soured and it's tough to make something good out of it, such as Seattle.

So, since when did the NBA "do things like that?" Basically, since forever. That is after all, the NBA's league growth formula. Growth benefits every franchise, as long as it's good growth. You want teams in cities that support them, and you want to get rid of teams in cities that don't support them..hopefully the end result is a league full of nothing but teams that are well-supported by their communities.

And what's more is that everyone who is familiar with the NBA knows that they have a whole bastion of teams in smaller markets (aka markets that aren't LA or NYC).. Sacramento, Orlando, San Antonio, New Orleans, Charlotte, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Portland, Salt Lake City, Milwaukee, Indianapolis..and possibly a team in Kansas City or Louisville (being discussed..they are building new arenas).

So what makes OKC especially worthy of all of the ridiculous and unfounded criticism that it has gotten in the last week? Absolutely nothing. To the Gazette's response (to a report that some Thunder players were 'unhappy' in OKC) last month that couldn't quite get to the point of defending the OKC scene as being "NBA star worthy," I would hold up the OKC "scene" to ANY of those other smaller cities I mentioned earlier, except New Orleans or Memphis.

The reality that nobody seems to fathom is that the NBA actually does play..quite a few..of its games in cities outside of New York, LA, Miami, Chicago, or fact probably the majority of cities are very "average" or as I would prefer to word it, "real," kinds of places.

To the SI article that made OKC sound like a bad day in Guymon, I would just suggest a dose of reality. You could easily make Cleveland or Memphis sound a lot worse.

To this article questioning since when the NBA has been in such small and unheard of markets, I suggest the author take a good hard look at a map of the NBA and start getting out of the Beltway some.


Mark said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

There's clearly a large segment of the national sports press that has a vendetta against OKC over the whole Seattle Sonics part of this deal. And no, it's not professional to let that bias creep into writing, and it's amateur hour to write in such a condescending manner. But it happens. Trick is to leave comments on the online story bashing the writer for doing so, and then write a more balanced letter to the editor.
- SL