SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

And Charles Barkley Will Be the Spokesperson

The Philadelphia 76ers, second-to-last in attendance in the NBA last year, are offering a five-pack of tickets, the "All You Can Eat" Package. Last time I checked, they had a Top 50 all-time player, who, had he eaten less, might have won a championship (or two) in the league. In the age of obesity and diabetes, I rank something like this second only to any municipality's claim that the introduction of casino gambling can help save its tax base.

Needless to say, the 76ers need to do something. I read an article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer about the new VP of Marketing, who has introduced an ad campaign that will feature Kyle Korver diving for loose balls, to emphasize the team's grittiness.

I suppose that when you have someone as transcendant as Kobe Bryant on your squad, you lead with him. And, to a degree, the product sells itself because, with Kobe, you at least have one of the top 10 NBA players of all time. Maybe higher. If you're the Boston Celtics, chuckleheads that they are, you lead with the Three Fates, Garnett, Allen and Pierce, none of whom has won a title, and sell the fact that you have 3 Hall of Famers on your roster. It doesn't matter that at least 2 don't know how to play defense, that all 3 need the ball to be effective, that all are getting old and that no NBA team with three players who averaged more than 20 ppg has ever won a title (and, believe me, this Celtics' team will be a bickering mess by the time the year's up). But, if you're Philadelphia, and all you really have is a B-list star in Andre Iguodala, you have to emphasize "old-time" basketball.

Picks.

Screens.

Boxing out.

Diving for loose balls.

Translated, it means that you don't have a nucleus to come close to winning a title and you have to appeal to nostalgia, which would be all well and good except, to my recollection, the NBA isn't marketing to people who really recall the great teams and players of the 1960's and 1970's. They don't want us, they want people who like the sizzle as much, if not more, than the steak.

So why Kyle Korver diving for loose balls?

The Phillies have the most exciting trio in the majors in Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

The Eagles have been a bellwether team for several years and have marquis players in Brian Westbrook, Donovan McNabb and Brian Dawkins.

The Flyers, at least, spend money on marquis players, even though they seemed to have let the game's evolution pass them by in that they haven't become as quick a team as they should have. But at least they spend the money.

And the 76ers? It's good to know that they're going to emphasize old-time basketball.

It's just a shame that the guys they're doing it with aren't named Chamberlain, Jackson, Walker, Jones and Greer, or Malone, Iavaroni, Erving, Toney, Cheeks and Jones (yes, you can't forget the 6th manon this team).

Good luck drawing fans, guys. With your combination of high ticket prices and a low-quality product, it will be a victory if you win 35 games and finish higher than 25th in the league in attendance.

But Kyle Korver will be diving for loose balls, so we got that going for us.

Which is nice.

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