Upgraded NBA in arena Wi-Fi — it’s coming no matter what

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Heat and Lakers fans get blasted for this all the time on twitter, but frankly I’ve seen this at every game I’ve been to anywhere in the country — fans looking down from the game at their smartphone to check in on Facebook or answer a work email that comes in.

But it’s more than that — at a Nets game last year at the Barclay’s Center, fans in the arena could launch an app and watch different camera angles of the game with Cisco’s StadiumVision Mobile (other teams are toying with this idea). The Golden State Warriors owners have talked about wanting to be able to send text messages to season ticket holders at the game about shorter concession lines or specials at the gift shop.

Technology and the NBA are now married, for better or worse (depending on your view). We all live on our smartphones now, this is not changing. And when fans go to an NBA game now they expect to be as connected as they are at work or at home.

Which is why upgrading in arena Wi-Fi for fans is becoming a big business, as is putting in special apps and steps to reach those fans, something covered by an article at Sports Business Daily, via NBA.com, where Steve Aschburner talked to NBA officials about it such as Steve Hellmuth, the NBA VP of operations and technology.

“You have to set that table and provide them with everything they’re accustomed to,” Hellmuth said. “It’s not just about Facebook and Instagram – it’s the fact that they have a babysitter at home. They have a business that they’re operating. And we’re all expected to be connected and to be available these days.”

But what really is driving the need for dramatic in-arena Wi-Fi upgrades is video — fans want it, but it takes up more bandwidth. The SBD article gets into a lot of details on in-arena upgrades.

The challenge is to augment the fan experience in the arena without having what “head down” moments where fans are looking at their phones and missing the action they paid to see. It’s a balancing act, and it’s stuff fans in the arena can often already get.

“Both the Spurs and the Heat fans proved that in The Finals,” Hellmuth said. “They were really functioning as a sixth man. That’s the reason you go to an NBA venue.

“We don’t want to create more ‘heads down’ experiences around video. It’s nice to have but when you look at the investments our teams have made in HD video screens, for me, I want to look up and enjoy a replay with the person I came to the game with, right?”

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?