Phil Caldwell

Sports Blogging With a Grin

Archive for the ‘2011 NBA Playoffs’ Category

Pacific Northwest Applauds Another Late-Game Comeback by the Dallas Mavericks!

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MIAMI, FL - JUNE 02:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives between Dirk Nowitzki #41 and Jason Terry #31 of the Dallas Mavericks in the fourth quarter in Game Two of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 2, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

By the time it was over last night, white-clad Miami Heat faithful were silently shuffling out of the silent cathedral that had viewers across the country wondering if they weren’t instead tuned into a Kevorkian funeral event.

Meanwhile in Seattle, jilted Supersonic fans were enjoying a surge in revenge that they hadn’t seen since their team had been ripped off three years prior via unscrupulous means.

On Wednesday, the day prior, a mere three hours north saw the NHL continuing to convert former Pacific Northwest NBA fans into die-hard professional hockey groupies, as the Vancouver Canucks pulled off an improbable Game 1 Stanley Cup finals victory with a scant 18 seconds left.

Broadcast to all of Seattle, by the same sports station that used to host the NBA’s Supersonics.

All this while David Stern was still groveling in a corner somewhere while patting himself on the back, for teaching those terrible Washington State legislators a lesson as they dared to NOT build a new billion dollar arena a decade after they built the last one!

And then a mere day later, the hated evil empire of the Miami Heat was embarrassed on their own court, as popular Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban danced courtside in his tee shirt. His boys in blue had just stunned the superstar bullies on national television during the NBA finals, with a late 22-5 run.

If you recall, Mark Cuban and Paul Allen were the only two NBA owners with the stones to oppose the unlawful heisting of the Supersonic franchise from a four-decade loyal fan base in Seattle, moving it the tornado-infested confines of Clay Bennett’s flat-topsville barn in Oklahoma City in a back-room buddy payoff.

David Stern’s blessing of corrupt team thievery was enough to cause the most apathetic citizen in Washington State to rush to the rest room with diarrhea-induced bowl pains, knowing the dirty deeds of the Oklahoma clan were being aided by his pompous highness.

And now three years later, the corruption was being rewarded as accumulated lottery picks were producing fortune for the bad guys.

Hence Cuban’s vote opposing the shenanigans, still has folklore status in Seattle, even though his opposition had more to do with the Thunder swiping away Maverick fans than it did with his admiration for the Pacific Northwest.

Still, watching the Heat get dismantled by the same Dallas team, in a similar fashion to what the Thunder suffered in game four of the Western Conference Finals a week prior, tempted the most ardent NBA-hater to smile, if even just for a little bit.

And the fact that this was happening against the Evil Empire of knucklehead LeBron James with his two pals didn’t hurt either!

Here were the three fashion show punks of last summer being whip-lashed into submission by a pack of mostly unknowns, herded together by the same Mark Cuban. It was the best news in Seattle since the Celtics fleeced the now-hated Thunder for lottery-pick Jeff Green.

Could it get any more beautiful for fans in the Pacific Northwest?

So here we are in June, with the Vancouver Canucks on the verge of their first Stanley Cup ever, at a time when the NBA is most vulnerable to fan conversion. The dreaded lockout looms, the league is a fiscal mess and some two dozen teams are hemorrhaging money like untapped Gulf oil wells.

But nary a word of dismay from anyone in this corner of the continent, since these two former-NBA markets are skipping down the block with hockey happiness!

And now this.

Mark Cuban’s team slapping all that is wrong with the current NBA right in the choppers!

Late-game heroics by a techie hero, in a techie market, as the season-long rain is dissipating in the Pacific Northwest with warm sunny skies forecast for the weekend.

It’s enough to have Seattle fans wondering if there truly is a displeased basketball god out there somewhere dealing karmedic justice?


Written by PhilCaldwell

June 3, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Oklahoma City Thunder: Comic Relief from Recent ESPN Television Ratings

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This morning I was amazed after reading the headline in a Oklahoma City newspaper claiming the Thunder had shattered television records ratings on ESPN.  It made no sense.  You mean the entire country is enthralled about a team from a somewhere in the middle of the country that nobody cares about?  Are they serious?

From the story, here’s what it said:  “The Thunder broke its mark of 24.0 for Game 5 of Thunder-Grizzlies playoff series on May 11 on TNT.”

Why was I amazed?  Because if true, it would make the Oklahoma City Thunder game the highest rated program in cable sports history, dwarfing the BCS National Championship Title game between Auburn vs Oregon back in January.

That game drew a 16.1 overnight rating in its first year on ESPN. That’s 12 percent less than the 18.2 rating Fox drew last year.

But then, added as an afterthought in the homer Oklahoma City newspaper, was this little nugget saying “the ratings are a percentage of the TV households in the Oklahoma City market.”

Uh … excuse me?  Well that means the headline was just a trifle misleading!

114340737_crop_340x234Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The truth is the Thunder are breaking television records in the 45th largest market in the country, so it’s hardly relevant nationally.

Let’s put this in perspective.  According to Wikipedia (the absolute authority on everything), the population of Oklahoma City is 579,999.

The greater metropolitan area of Oklahoma City, combined with the big huge downtown city-slicker numbers, equates to 1,252,987.

Doing the math, and being deliberately simplistic with population counts vs ratings, 25 percent of the greater metropolitan number divided out, equates to 313,246 households allegedly with their TV’s on during this game.

That likely includes a third of them who forgot to turn off the set when they were out mowing their lawns.

Now let’s compare those numbers with those in the market that Clay Bennett and David Stern abandoned.  The Puget Sound region, with four times the population.

According to Wikipedia, the total population of the Seattle region is 4,087,033.

If we take the actual viewer numbers of the net population of 313k, and extrapolate that out, the ratings are somewhat less than what live fishing garners.

The numbers hover around a 7.6 in the Seattle market, let alone the surrounding markets of Vancouver BC, Alaska, and the Far East.

Let’s compare that to an actual major market like Los Angeles, where 17,786,419 real residents reside.

313,000 households would equate to a market share of .017 percent of the greater LA basin. Not exactly numbers that blows the doors off your hot rod.

Are you getting my point here Oklahoma City?

Your huge television numbers there in Thunderville are inconsequential, when compared against the more normal NBAmarkets.

But it’s not Oklahoma City’s fault.  There just aren’t enough people in the community to make it a relevant number to an average national broadcast executive, nor anyone outside of the state of Oklahoma.

Hence David Stern created a nightmare for the NBA, because what used to be a month of anticipation and excitement for millions of fans out West, has been replaced by a very small scant minority a couple hours away from another franchise in Dallas, and there is no way to significantly improve those numbers.

In other words, big TV ratings in Oklahoma City mean nothing—especially when formerly loyal markets now show about the same passion for professional basketball as an eight-year-old for his cousin’s wedding!

Nobody cares about the Oklahoma City Thunder, and of those who might have (ie: Seattle fans), most are vowing to never watch another NBA game again.

Not when David Stern is still pulling the strings, and certainly not when the same commissioner was calling a nearly-new arena dilapidated and inadequate while breaking the very lease used to coerce the city of Seattle into building the NBA a new arena in the first place!

So the moral of the story:  The lesson you taught to Seattle, Mr Stern, is now coming around to bite. Starting with that unimpressive 5.0 Thunder vs Grizzlies rating that you just pulled down last week on ESPN national!

And that was a pretty good series.  Just imagine what kind of pathetic numbers those two teams might pull in, should the series be a four game sweep!

Written by PhilCaldwell

May 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm

NBA Playoffs 2011:Pacific Northwest Grows Angrier as Grizzlies, Thunder Advance

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Sonicsvsgrizzlies3_crop_340x234There was a time not so long ago, when a series between the VancouverGrizzlies and the Seattle SuperSonics would have ignited two of the most crazed and passionate fan bases in the country.

But not any longer.

For reasons that still baffle fans throughout the entire northwest corner of the continent, commissioner David Stern decided to trade two major population centers for two itty-bitty and over-saturated middle markets somewhere in the center of the country, dominated by five separate NBA franchises.

The further each team advances in the playoffs, the angrier this part of the country becomes.

And it’s not fan apathy.  It’s fan hostility toward a now-hated commissioner and his league.

Meanwhile, the upstart Major League Soccer seized upon the mistake, where it quickly discovered how passionate fans are in this part of the country.

The Seattle Sounders sold out nearly every home game over the first three years of existence, with 30,000-people crowds growing to 65,000 and 70,000 for “friendlies” played against teams from other international leagues.

MLS success in Seattle and Vancouver makes the recent NBA franchise re-locations look even more silly and inept.


Seattle is the premier cornerstone franchise of the MLS, with new franchises in Portland to the south, and the Vancouver Whitecaps to the north, duplicating the amazing immediate success of the Sounders.

The MLS, unlike the NBA, recognized how lucrative these two markets are, but perhaps they had the advantage after watching Vancouver & Seattle fans evolve into a typical English football rivalry so prevalent in the old country.

During the mid 1970s, the North American Soccer League Sounders vs. Whitecaps routinely hosted sold out matches, with both cities going nuts over meaningless games in early summer.

Portland vs. Seattle soccer matches were similar, with both fan bases flooding opponent stadiums and restaurants several times a year, in ways that would make Liverpool vs. Manchester envious.

During the old NASL days, Vancouver Whitecap fans would travel in massive numbers, if they could find tickets, to Portland and Seattle, and vice versa.

And this for a league that went bankrupt and folded in the mid 1980s over soccer games played indoors in a concrete cave on cherished sunny days in the Pacific Northwest.

Sports Illustrated ran stories in 1975 about this corner of the continent and the obvious fan passion.  Indeed there was a time when the NBA enjoyed this area, with the Sonics selling out the now-imploded Kingdome with crowds of 35-45,000.

89748296_crop_340x234Sold out Qwest Field in Seattle for Barcelona vs Sounder match in July of 2009
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

More importantly is the international influence this part of the country holds, for leagues wanting multinational exposure into the far east and beyond.

The NFL Seattle Seahawks and the MLB Seattle Mariners are broadcast into Japan, Korea, China, Alaska, much of the Pacific, and almost all of western Canada. But the same cannot be said for the NBA Portland Trailblazers, especially in Seattle, where Sonic fans wants no part of their former rivals.

Sadly, the NBA never stuck around in Vancouver long enough to tap into this passion.  Vancouver Grizzly teams were terrible, with one bad draft pick after another resulting in a team that never came close to making the playoffs.

Meanwhile, as the Sonics were being taken over by an incompetant owner and GM who ran that franchise into the ground, once routine Kingdome-filled crowds were failing to sell out the 14,000 seat Key Arena after a decade of questionable player moves and multi-million free-agent signings.

Eight years ago, the International Olympic Committee, a bit more enlightened than the NBA, awarded Vancouver the 2010 Winter Olympics, and gave the world a glimpse into how passionate fans in these parts are when a decent product is put on the table.

Obscure sports like ice curling and bow snow skiing were sold out months before the events.  Parties scattered throughout the city rocked on late into the night.  Local fans went nuts.  Seattle fans joined in.

2856376_crop_340x234Seattle Sonics vs Vancouver Grizzlies
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The entire downtown area of Vancouver was an on-going two-week festival that did not sleep, undeterred by sideways rain or frigid temperatures.  Each night, NBC broadcast views of glistening waters contrasted against blue skies and snow-capped mountains, in awe of the natural beauty the region has to offer.

But more importantly, the 2010 Winter Olympics exposed the fire Canadians have toward their sports.

Meanwhile, the NBA did everything in their power to muck things up, especially in Seattle, where new Sonic owner Clay Bennett spent two years deliberately sabotaging his franchise so that he could justify moving it.

Outright fan anger toward the NBA is now the norm, with local talk shows routinely fielding calls from bitter fans hating everything and anything about professional basketball.  It’s far worse than an untapped market, and it’s growing in intensity the longer the area remains without a team and more successful the former franchise is.  Several times a day fans are either writing or calling, vowing “they are done forever” with professional basketball.

Part of that is due to fans in Seattle knowing they paid the price, with franchise worst-ever seasons, which produced high draft picks that are now the foundation of the team.

Recent polls in Seattle indicate almost 80 percent of fans would rather the city pursue an NHL team than a replacement NBA squad.

Vancouverhome_original_crop_340x234Former home of the NBA Vancouver Grizzlies

Fan forums are routinely filled with scathing comments towards David Stern and Clay Bennett. Former Sonic owner Howard Schultz was recently forced to use security to keep unruly Sonic fans from dragging him out to the parking lot for a good old-fashioned tar and feathering.

Meanwhile in Vancouver, apathy towards the NBA is contrasted by near religious love and devotion towards the Canucks.

Walk any street in the province and you’ll see half a dozen normal folks wearing $125 Canuck jerseys.  The city is absolutely in love with its hockey franchise, best in the NHL this past regular season, which plays in an abandoned NBA arena.

Yet at the same time, almost zero interest in their former basketball team the Grizzlies, now far away in Memphis.

Such is the case when a league behaves as callously toward fans, as the NBA did to Vancouver and Seattle.  And the region has become hostile to David Stern’s brand of corporate professional basketball as a result.

It likely will take a remorseful and apologetic NBA several generations to recover the fan bases in this corner of the country, and a prerequisite is the removal of Mr. Stern as commissioner.  And yet with  the NBA still taunting and insulting the region by appointing hated Clay Bennett as chair of the franchise relocation committee, either the league doesn’t care about this area or are amazingly ignorant of what they have done.

97188998_crop_340x2342010 WInter Olympics
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

It sends the incorrect message that they could waltz back in at any time and reclaim passion that has turned against them.

Seattle, with new football and baseball stadiums and a basketball palace that was built as the priority, before the other two facilities, is now a market the NBA may never get back.   And rightly so, as the NBA went out of their way to deceive the nation about Seattle’s devotion and loyalty to their basketball franchise.

In response, Seattle voters passed initiatives banning any more public money every go to the coffers of professional sports, especially the NBA.

Seattle, a city that absolutely loved the NBA and it’s Sonics, now curses the league.   And as Seattle’s former franchise faces off against Vancouver’s former franchise, anger grows.

And because of this, the NBA may never recover an area passionate about sports, who now has turned against a commissioner who most fans see as pompous and arrogant, and who deliberately set out to do this.

Years of apologies from the NBA may not help. Because for many former season ticket holders in the Pacific Northwest, the NBA is dead to them, and David Stern cannot seem to grasp how much damage his own actions have done to an entire corner of the continent.

View the terrific documentary on the Sonic’s move to Oklahoma City at

Read more from the same author at: Ghost of Supersonics Hovers over NBA, Kings Move

Written by PhilCaldwell

April 30, 2011 at 3:22 pm