What is it with former NBA players who want to own NBA teams in markets where everyone else is trying to escape?
You’ve got Michael Jordan in Charlotte (a once good market where George Shin salted the earth) and now you’ve got Shaquille O’Neal is talking about Newark. Shaq is from New Jersey and Newark has a team — the New Jersey Nets — for one more season, then they are off to Brooklyn.
Shaq talked to the New York Times and said he still plans to buy an NBA team someday.
Yes. And I’m looking forward to bringing a team to Newark. I haven’t spoken to Mayor Booker about it yet, but I’m working on it. I know Newark can support an N.B.A. team. And I’m going to be one of the guys that’s going to bring a team there.
The Nets averaged 14,179 people per game last season, which was 80.6 percent of the building capacity (sixth lowest percentage in the league). Newark didn’t look like a strong market. To be fair, they had a team renting space in town until they could go to Brooklyn, so why should fans turn out? That said, Oklahoma City turned out in force when hurricane Katrina forced a temporary Hornets relocation, and that energy paved the way for the Thunder to come to town (screwing over Seattle fans in the process).
Take this with some salt. It’s not that Shaq doesn’t want to bring a team to Newark, it’s that he wants to do a lot of things and his follow through is not always there. Don’t take my word for it, ask Kobe.
Already, the deadline has passed for the first week of the preseason — the NBA has cancelled it. Without a handshake agreement in the next week, the rest of the preseason is at risk as well. Not long after that comes the start of the regular season.
But what about the All-Star Game? In 1999, after the last lockout, the All-Star Game was one of the things sacrificed to make sure teams could get 50 games crammed in before the playoffs.
The deadline for the All-Star Game scheduled for Orlando this February is mid-December, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
If it is lost, it will create a log jam of future games. The 2013 All-Star game is reportedly heading to Houston. The 2014 game has yet to be awarded but the owners of the new Barclay Center in Brooklyn that will be home to the Nets want the game as soon as possible. It could be 2015 before Orlando gets another kick at the can.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.
The New Jersey Nets are using Newark and the Prudential Center as sort of a layover on the way to Brooklyn in 2012. Get out of the Meadowlands and into a better arena — read: more revenue streams — that is an easy train trip from New York to get the people in the boroughs ready for their arrival.
But that’s not how the fine folks of Newark see it.
They remember when hurricane Katrina blew the Hornets out of New Orleans up to Oklahoma City for a season plus and that city so embraced the team that when push came to shove about moving the Sonics, the league knew it had a viable fan base and market in OKC. (Then Hornets owner George Shinn wanted the Hornets to stay in Oklahoma City, and if nothing else we should thank David Stern for not letting Shinn ruin a third market.)
Newark sees this as its chance to prove it is big time and deserves an NBA franchise. And according to the Bergen Record, the governor talked with the NBA powers about that possibility down the line.
Governor Christie has had “casual conversations” with National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern about the possibility of Newark getting another NBA team once the Nets leave for Brooklyn in 2012, he said Tuesday….
“I think there is a future for NBA basketball here in Newark,” Christie said. “I think that New Jersey having a state-of-the-art facility like Newark has here, you have the possibility of doing that. We support three [National Hockey League] teams in the region, so I don’t see why we can’t support three basketball teams.”
Sterns’ concern is a third team saturates the greater New York market (which is what Newark is considered). Those same concerns likely would greet any team thinking about moving to Anaheim with the Lakers and Clippers just up the 5 Freeway.
But this is Stern’s NBA — money talks. If Newark proves it can really support a team, sell out the luxury boxes and provide a solid base of season tickets, then anything is possible. If there is money to be made, the NBA will listen.