Archive for August, 2009
I’ve seen some bad sports marketing campaigns in my day, but the New Jersey Nets may have just taken the cake. As you may have heard, fresh off taking the “New Jersey” off their jerseys, which didn’t win them points with this proud Garden State resident, the Nets are now telling their fans to root for players on other teams by giving out double-sided jerseys with star opponents on them. Look, I understand the majority of people who go to Nets games are going to see other teams’ star players, since the Nets don’t really have any of their own since trading Vince Carter. I mean, I love Devin Harris, but he’s not going to be an enormous box-office draw. So in theory, the campaign makes sense. And I realize that the Nets are desperate for money in a tough economy. I get all that. But I just feel like it’s something you just can’t do to your players. You can promote coming to a game against the Cavs to see LeBron James, you’d be stupid not to, but to actually push merchandise of other teams? I hate the principle of the Nets’ players looking out into the stands and seeing a sea of Kobe Bryant jerseys.
In addition, have the Nets stopped to think that it’s a terrible message to send to potential free agents? “Sure Joe Johnson, sign on and we’ll promote the hell out of Dwight Howard coming in to destroy you!” Here’s a quote from Nets chief executive Brett Yormark:
"The reality of the situation is that we target the casual sports fan in New Jersey and New York. As much as they like the Nets, they also like the opposing star players. The Match-Up plan enables us to market our players as well as the star players in the league. We’re a young team, the NBA is a league of stars, and we’re not ashamed to say that our fans are coming to watch the opposing star players as much as ours."
Why aren’t they ashamed of that? They should be. Isn’t it a problem when the best you can do for a counterpart for a LeBron jersey is Jarvis Hayes? Is anyone going to wear the Hayes side of that? I mean, is there anyone in America who currently owns a Hayes jersey, period? I think if a kid shows up at school with a Hayes jersey, he’s asking for a pounding from his peers. How about Courtney Lee, who Nets fans haven’t even seen in their uniform, matched up with Bryant in a rematch of their one-sided NBA Finals? He’s No. 6 – maybe they should have marketed it as a throwback Kenyon Martin jersey. Even their two most marketable stars, Harris and Brook Lopez, are overshadowed by brighter stars Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard, respectively. Look, the idea here is to build up your own team’s identity. I still think it’s unconscionable to completely abandon any pretense that your games are anything but an outpost for LeBron and Kobe to pillage the Meadowlands.
Wouldn’t it have been enough to simply give out jerseys of the Nets? Are five jerseys of your own team not enough of a draw, rather than exterminating brand loyalty and replacing it with an investment in other teams’ players? The idea is to get the younger generation hooked on Nets players, rather than say, Wade, so that they’ll come more than twice a year. Because I’m a generous guy, how about I offer up some free marketing advice? How about: “The Start of Something Big” – and stick Devin and Brook on the posters and billboards? Then call attention to the fact that the Nets are building toward being under the cap for 2010 and signing some big-time talent, but that a couple of key pieces are already on the roster. Then in 2010, you’re all set up for “The Future is Now.” But the Nets need to figure out that putting themselves on a level below their opponents demeans the franchise and kills its value, and that it’s tough to break that cycle once you’ve started that trend. As such, I’ll look forward to next year’s marketing campaign, with jerseys of the loaded 2010 Free Agents – on their respective other teams.
With the NBA departure of Gerald Henderson and the unexpected transfer of Elliot Williams to Memphis, Duke was staring into a backcourt abyss with only two recruited guards, Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith, remaining on the roster for the upcoming season. While both players are undoubtedly talented, having only two legitimate options to play two positions is certainly an undesirable position for any program — surely one of the players will need a rest of at some point in the season!
Enter Andre Dawkins.
Dawkins is an acclaimed 5-star recruit that had already committed to Duke, expecting to matriculate for the 2010-2011 season. However, with a plethora of minutes available at the guard position, Andre Dawkins finds himself in position to capitalize on having already fulfilled his high school graduation recruitments.
This is an amazing turn of events for the Devils in the upcoming season. While Duke is by no means deep in the backcourt now, the addition of a first-rate player at the guard position will go a long ways towards solidifying the backcourt rotation and helping Scheyer’s prognostications come true.
Ignoring the social impact of the recent move, what is the best case scenario here for Vick joining the Eagles on the gridiron? What is Vick going to do in Philadelphia to make it worth taking on the scrutiny of actually having him?
I can understand why Vick would think this is the best situation. You know the drill: strong management team, solid coach in Andy Reid, established quarterback – all of which takes pressure off Vick. In addition, he has one of the most stable men in the history of the NFL in Tony Dungy as a mentor to keep him on the straight and narrow.
I know what Vick gets out of this. But what do the Eagles get?
First off, they get an angry quarterback. Sure, Donovan McNabb said the right things about encouraging the Eagles to sign Vick. What is he supposed to say? Privately, he hates it. McNabb has an enormous ego and a ton of pride. He wants to be The Man.
Remember when the Eagles drafted Kevin Kolb and McNabb called it “shocking” that they’d take a young quarterback to groom? Remember when McNabb was benched this past November and he acted as if Andy Reid had stolen his Chunky Soup? Meanwhile, it only saved their season.
No matter what he says, McNabb does not want Vick there. He dealt with one circus atmosphere with Terrell Owens that turned into a humongous personal embarrassment. Now he has someone even more notorious on his team that plays his position and threatens his alpha male status.
Football-wise, does this even make sense? Vick is going to play quarterback since it’s all he knows. If the Eagles have him on the field in some sort of Wildcat-like formation, that takes McNabb – arguably their best player – off the field. That strikes me as counterproductive.
And who even knows what Vick has left? Sure, he was a dynamic and incredibly talented – albeit very flawed – player during his first go-around, but does that guarantee he’s going to be that good after two years on the shelf? Of course not. In fact, I’d be stunned if he was anything close to what he was before. A month off makes a quarterback rusty. How about two years? In prison? He might be a totally different athlete now, and not in a good way.
You know who else doesn’t know what kind of player Vick is? The Eagles. Oddly, Reid didn’t even work him out. So why go out on this limb without knowing for sure this guy can still play? It’s sort of stupefying.
Also, don’t forget that the West Coast offense requires precision that Vick simply didn’t have during his stay in Atlanta, or that the Eagles were among the favorites to win the NFC even before this disruption.
And then there are the fans, who have completely been overlooked by the Eagles. They’re passionate but very judicious, and they love their stars. As such, they will be very wary of embracing Vick. I’d say virtually all fans would be, to a degree, afraid of what people would think or sticking to their own personal beliefs.
So we know what Vick gets out of this – the perfect environment to try to get his mojo back.
But what do the Eagles get? A whole lot of questions, that’s what.
Admittedly, I was somewhat apprehensive to hear the news that Coach K elected to double down on his past Olympic success and will be returning to lead Team USA in the upcoming 2012 Games. It’s no secret that Duke has underperformed (in relation to Duke standards only as nearly every other NCAA team would trade Duke’s perceived lack of success for their own results) over the last couple of seasons, and many people attribute the slump to K’s alleged lack of focus on Duke basketball as he guides Team USA to Olympic glory. Personally, I was not ready to accept that K’s Olympics duties were the culprit for Duke’s decline, but I wasn’t willing to rule it out either. Clearly, this situation required further research to reach a definitive conclusion, and I was chomping at the bit to review the historical data and write this article in order to finally put this issue to rest – one way or the other!
And then Al Featherston trumped me! And frankly, I’m ecstatic that he did. I couldn’t have produced a finer, more-researched article. If you have any questions regarding the impact of the Olympics on Coach K and Duke basketball, this is the definitive article that you MUST READ: Featherston on Coach K, Team USA and Recruiting