by Ken Reed
There’s an anti-fan trend in the NBA that is unfortunately escalating.
It was started by the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich. Basically, Popovich picks multiple games every season when he decides to not compete by resting several of his top players. The idea, presumably, is to keep his veteran stars fresh for the playoffs, the only season that really matters in the NBA.
Today, several other NBA coaches of teams in the playoffs are doing the same thing. Who gets hurt? The fans, of course, many of whom have spent several hundred dollars to see a particular team and its stars play.
Last Friday, Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors, the team with the best record in the NBA at the time, decided to play the Denver Nuggets in Denver without star guards Steph Curry and Klay Thompson (known to adoring fans as The Splash Brothers), starting center Andrew Bogut and swingman and former USA Olympian Andre Igoudala. They were all benched as healthy scratches. Also, the Warriors played without Bogut’s backup, Marcus Speights, who was sitting out a one-game suspension from the league office for pleading no contest to a reckless driving charge.
Meanwhile, the Pepsi Center in Denver was packed with fans — hundreds of them wearing Golden State Warriors hats, shirts and sweatshirts — who came to watch the Warriors in their only Denver appearance of the season (The Nuggets certainly weren’t the draw, as they are one of the worst teams in the league this season). Numerous parents were interviewed during and after the game who said they had saved up to buy tickets for the game so their kids could see their favorite team or players in action, only to discover the Warriors were treating the game like a baseball split-squad spring training exhibition in Arizona or Florida.
It’s definitely a problem, one that the NBA needs to get a handle on sooner rather than later.
Kerr gets it but he insists his job is to look out for the best interests of his team, not the fans’. “It’s fair criticism,” he said.
“If I had bought tickets for my family, and I wanted to see Steph Curry play and he sat out, I’d be upset. I understand that, but I can’t base my team’s welfare on that. That’s one of the reasons why I do it on the road because we like to look after our own fans.
“I would like to look out for Denver’s fans, and everybody else’s fans, but the reality is for our team to prosper and for our team to be in the best shape going forward, Steph and Klay (Thompson) really needed a night off.”
If the 82-game season is too much for the players than reduce the schedule or spread out the games. Perhaps all back-to-back games could be eliminated. Former NBA player Shane Battier said a 60-game season would be perfect from a competition standpoint. Of course, that would mean less revenue. Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban wants to extend the 82-game season to give players more rest between games. However, the league is already being criticized by reporters and fans for ending the season close to the 4th of July. NBA commissioner Adam Silver recognizes the problem and wants to come up with a solution that takes some strain off the players, doesn’t screw the fans, and of course, doesn’t significantly hamper league revenues.
At this point, however, he doesn’t have a solution to offer. That’s fine but it should be made a top priority. The integrity of the game is at stake when coaches decide to purposely tank games while fans are paying full price for tickets.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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