According to Ric "Vicious" Bucher (via Dan Toman ABC/ESPN), the NBA owners that also own
NBA NHL teams have told other owners that "it's worth losing a season to get deal they covet."
In my mind, losing an entire season would be more damaging to the NBA than it was to the NHL. Professional hockey has always been #4 in the United States when you're comparing the popularity of the top sports in the country. They're just barely getting back to where they were in my opinion before 2005. They could hardly get their product on television when the resumed play. How much have they lost trying to reestablish themselves over the past six years? Maybe it was worth it for them.
For the NBA, they've been behind the NFL for a long time now. Coincidentally, that's who the owners are trying to emulate. You already have casual fans that really don't start watching the NBA until after the NFL and college football seasons are over. Some just watch it for filler while they're waiting for the next football game. While you'll always have fans return despite their vowing to never watch a single game ever again, it's the casual fan that might not be back.
If there is a season-long lockout, how long does it take the NBA to recover?
The Scarborough Sports Marketing Group puts together a WAL (watched/attended/listened) list of the top NBA teams in the league. Based on their research, they have the percentages of persons in that market that have WALed a game during the season. They shared that list with MySanAntonio.com.
Since it originates on MySanAntonio.com, you might be able to guess who's #1. The Spurs though are in a similar situation as the Jazz in that they're the predominant professional sports team in their market (RSL is closing the gap though!). Here's the top 10 (last year's ranking in parentheses)
(1) San Antonio Spurs: 61% (1)
(2) Cleveland Cavaliers: 58% (2)
(3) Boston Celtics: 50% (6)
(4) Utah Jazz: 47% (3)
(5) Phoenix Suns: 45% (5)
(6) Los Angeles Lakers: 44% (10)
(7) Oklahoma City Thunder: 44% (17)
(8) Portland Trail Blazers: 43% (7)
(9) New Orleans Hornets: 41% (8)
(10) Denver Nuggets: 40% (12)
The Jazz should always be in the top 5 of this list going forward. I don't know what the percentage is from previous seasons but I wonder what impact not having games on KJZZ has done. The lockout of course will probably have an adverse impact even if there's a season to be played.
Gordon Hayward is diversifying his professional portfolio. He's become somewhat of a gaming icon since he's started streaming Starcraft II games. WellPlayed.org interviewed him on his gaming habits both on the court and online,
WellPlayed: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Most people know that you play in the NBA, but can you tell us a little about how your career is going?
Gordon Hayward: Well, I am a professional basketball player for the Utah Jazz (as most people already know) but I was always an avid gamer growing up. I played every sport you could play in my youth, and when I wasn't playing sports, I was playing video games. I played Basketball in high school as well as Tennis; I was a two-time first team All-State singles player. I am ultra-competitive and I hate losing, and that carries over into the world of gaming. I guess you could say I started being a serious gamer when the XBox came out. I played Unreal Championship a lot and got pretty good at it. If anyone knows anything about the Unreal scene, I was a part of Sol clan and NwO clan for a little while. Then I fell in love with Halo 2 and I played it so much that my parents set a limit on the amount of time I could play every night. Once Halo 3 came out I jumped on board that train and formed a clan of my own with some high school buddies (TwT, Time Will Tell). We won some money at a couple of local tournaments, but we were never able to play nationally due to some conflicts I had with the sports world.
As far as my basketball career is going, I had a decent year for a rookie in the NBA and I am continually working on improving my game to be the best player I can be for next year. My career high this past year was 34 points against the Denver Nuggets during our last game of the year. That's also the most points I have ever scored in an official game, so it was a great way to end the season!
There are a lot more Q & A's in that interview which is heavy on Starcraft jargon. So while the league may suffer from a lockout, Hayward may be able to join a professional gaming league to fill his time.
Bill Simmons had Mike Fretello on the BS report a couple of weeks back in which they discuss Fratello's plans for the lockout. After informing Simmons that he would be coaching the Ukrainian national team in the Euro Championships, they had this exchange:
Simmons: Do you have a guy, like a go-to guy, somebody that I've heard of?
Fratello: I think our go-to guy could be Fesenko from Utah.
Simmons: Oh, I know Fesenko.
Fratello: There you go.
Simmons: He could post 'em up
Fratello: He will be one of our guys that will try to make our national team roster from the 18 or 19 guys that we're bringing into training camp.
I had the same thought as moni when I read that: Fess isn't even guaranteed to make the team yet he's going to be a go-to guy? Maybe that's an assurance that he'll make the team?
This will be a pretty big tourney for Fess. He'll be a free agent target for teams in the NBA and in Europe. If the lockout wipes out the season, he could have a one-year deal with a club somewhere in Europe and use that to get a contract back in the states when things start back up.
(h./t moni for the link and transcription)
Since NBA tv is only playing old videos, here's a throwback for Stockton
John Stockton - NBA on NBC Feature (via JazzBasketball1)