November 13, 2018

New Cap One Signage, Ranked

Over the summer, Capital One Arena underwent a significant transformation. New seats were installed, the entire lower level concourse was renovated and there are a significant amount of new dining options in the building. I posted a quick rundown on this blog of what I saw at the September Wizards open house a couple of months ago.

The coolest of all the renovations, in my opinion, is the installation of new signage at the entrances to the lower level seating sections. Now it's true that the purple and yellow signs were one of the more objectionable design decisions made when MCI Center was built, but it's not just the removal of these monstrosities (i.e. addition by subtraction) that makes this upgrade the coolest part of the renovation. The new signs celebrate the history of the building and the history of the Wizards, Capitals and Mystics that call the building home. All told, there are 22 of these things. Let's rank them shall we? Why not? We rank everything else in life it seems.

Inevitably in any sort of comprehensive ranking like this, there will be some excellent entries and some real stinkers. That's totally true of this list. Some of these signs are awesome while others are not unique in any way to 601 F Street NW, which really sort of sucks. In some cases, the event depicted on the sign didn't even happen in the building at all and I've taken that into account sometimes as I'm counting them down from 22 to 1. I'm including the section where each sign is located in parentheses in case you want to check out your own favorites.

22. Capital Investment (101/102)
I get that Capital One paid for all these new signs but this is ridiculous. This is not an accomplishment in any way. It's just paying money. If I could have ranked this sign lower, I would have.

21. WWE (112/113)
Come on. Really? WWE? You only have 22 of these signs and decide to devote a whole sign to WWE? I guess they pay money to rent the building when they come to town. Money talks at 21 as well as 22.

20. Tim McGraw & Faith Hill (108/109)
There have been many, many, many concerts held at 601 F Street NW over the last 20 or so years. Was Tim McGraw and Faith Hill really one of the best? I have a hard time believing this. I've seen Bob Dylan twice in this building. And while one of those shows was not Bob's best, I'd go with Dylan over McGraw and Hill.

19. Inaugural AFL Game (115/116)
Nobody really cares about the AFL, do they? This four team league (half of which Monumental Sports owns) is barely on life support. At least they didn't make a sign out of the electronic sports league. I'm thankful for that at least.

18. (NCAA) Tournament Host (105/106)
I was truly tempted to put the building hosting NCAA basketball games below Tim McGraw and Faith Hill but ultimately basketball won out over country music here, even though basketball is exactly what the building was designed to host. Neither is really worth making remarkable enough to put on a permanent sign in the building in my opinion but they didn't ask me.

17. Wizards Draft Bradley Beal (113/114)
16. MVP Comes To DC (119/120)
Only time will tell if these two events are really as important as they seem right now. Sure, both players are elite in their own leagues but their time in Washington has been either (a) really short or (b) just not that significant from a team perspective. Yes, Elena Delle Donne has taken the Mystics to the WNBA Finals after forcing a trade to Washington two years ago but what if that's it? Does she really deserve a sign in the building? I'd go out on a limb here and suggest that the Mystics in the Finals is more deserving of a sign, but perhaps that happened too late in the construction process.

Bradley Beal has made an All-Star Game. Once. What if Beal gets traded? What happens to his sign? It has to get replaced, right? And why Beal not Wall? Isn't Wall getting drafted more significant right now than Beal getting drafted? I'd say it is. I'd also say that Monumental Sports was looking for a way to get Beal into the mix somehow and this was their only chance. 

Neither of these things happened in the building, by the way. That in addition to the uncertain significance of these two events puts these two 16th and 17th. In a few years, they could be a lot higher. And I have no idea what's up with the color on these two pictures. It's completely operator error.

15. Beyoncé (118/119)
I struggled with putting Beyoncé higher than Delle Donne and Beal but at least she performed in the building. Not much else to say on this one.

14. Gonchar Hat Trick (110/111)
There have been 140 hat tricks in Washington Capitals history through the beginning of the 2018-2019 season. Sergei Gonchar has one of those, on January 4, 2000. I'm not sure why this particular hat trick was picked for this sign. It wasn't the first hat trick at MCI Center (Peter Bondra had the first four of those). The caption on the sign says it was just the second in franchise history by a defender. Is that really worth it? I'm not sure. Seems like a stretch to me.

13. Snow-vechkin (117/118)
12. Playoff Goals (114/115)
Caps fans are hating me right about now, I'm sure. Actually who's kidding whom? The likelihood of any of the 12 or so people who read this blog being enough of a die-hard Capitals fan to actually hate me is slim at best.  I put these two at 12 and 13 because honestly, there's enough love for Alex Ovechkin later on in this countdown and these are just two of his 20 career hat tricks. Both of these happened to come against the Pittsburgh Penguins, which I am sure is no accident. The 2009 game is ranked higher because it's a playoff game.

11. 2001 NBA All-Star Game (103/104)
I may have short-changed the All-Star game on this list but looking at everything below it (meaning higher ranked), I can't honestly justify moving it higher. I never really valued the All-Star Game until I attended for myself in New York in 2015 and even then I didn't really value it as a contest, just as an all-weekend event. Shown in the photo above? Allen Iverson, David Robinson and Dikembe Mutombo. No Wizards participated in this game even though the starting forwards for the Eastern Conference were Anthony Mason and Antonio Davis. The Wizards were not good in 2001.

10. Prince (104/105)
Non-basketball, non-hockey stuff hasn't done very well on this list but let's face it, the WWE, Beyoncé and Tim McGraw/Faith Hill are NOT Prince. According to my (not very exhaustive) research, it appears Prince only played the building once, on August 14, 2004. If that's really the case, I would have made sure the date was on Prince's sign. Prince playing is every bit as important (actually, way more) as Sergei Gonchar scoring a hat trick.

9. 1978 NBA Champions (120/121)
I struggled with this one more than any other. The Bullets won the NBA Championship in 1978, 19 years before MCI Center opened. It's a distant memory and not associated with this building in any way. It's also the single-most memorable thing the Packers/Zephyrs/Bullets/Wizards franchise has ever done and that's not likely to change any time soon. If this list were just about significant events in Wizards etc. and Capitals history, this would have to be number one or number two. But it's not. It's about celebrating events in MCI Center / Verizon Center / Capital One Arena. At least that's how I see it. Sorry to all the Bullets fans out there who are still pining for the old name.

8. WNBA Comes To Washington (106/107)
I'm sure there are folks out there who think this is way too high on this list, especially since it's higher than the Bullets winning the NBA Championship in 1978. I don't care. The WNBA is the longest running significant women's team sports league in the United States. The Mystics have been around in D.C. for 20 years and just capped off their most recent campaign with an appearance in the WNBA Finals. The success of the WNBA is important. It deserves this spot on this list. 

7. Earl "The Pearl" Monroe Number Retired (111/112)
I never saw Earl Monroe play but I've run into him in New York a couple of times during 2015 All-Star Weekend and I get his place in basketball (and Baltimore Bullets) history. Maybe a little biased pick prioritizing a Bullets / Wizards historical event over some sporting events actually held in the building but hey, it's my list. I was there on December 1, 2017 when the Pearl's number was retired. I still have the mini-banner giveaway they handed out that night.

6. 1000th For Hunter (107/108)
Dale Hunter is one of four Washington Capitals (right now) with his number retired. Hunter spent 19 seasons in the NHL and 12 years in Washington. As of the beginning of the 2018-2019 NHL season, only 87 players had recorded 1,000 points in the NHL. Hunter is the only one of those who also has 3,000 penalty minutes (Hunter is second all time with 3,565). He's likely never to be passed in penalty minutes by a 1,000 point scorer. Hunter's 1,000th point came at MCI Center on January 9, 1998 when he actually recorded his 998th, 999th and 1,000th point in the same game.

5. Game Winner (100/101)
The Wizards have made it to game seven of the second round of the NBA playoffs just once and John Wall's game winner in game six at home in May of 2017 did it. Wall doesn't hit many game winners. This one was the biggest I've ever seen him hit. He was absolutely on top of his game at this point and it's deservedly memorialized in one of these signs. After hitting the shot, Wall jumped up on the scorers' table and declared himself pretty much king of Washington. I missed that. I was too busy hugging my friend Mike and jumping up and down.

4. Southeast Division Champions (109/110)
I feel bad having this event so far up this countdown. As I've already pointed out in my September blog post, the Wizards didn't actually clinch the Southeast Division at home. But since it's the only thing this team has won in the 18 plus seasons I've had season tickets, I'm throwing myself a bone here.

3. Ovechkin's Debut (102/103)
It is quite frankly difficult to put anything that has happened at MCI Center / Verizon Center / Capital One Arena ahead of all that Alex Ovechkin has accomplished in his time in Washington. Certainly for the purposes of this post, I find it difficult to put anything Wizards-related ahead of the Great Eight (although I did). And yes, Ovi did make his debut at MCI Center (not on the road) on October 5, 2005 and yes, he scored in his first game. Twice, actually.

2. "I Called Game" (116/117)
It seems odd to me that I'm placing one shot in one playoff game by a guy who ended up being a rent-a-star for a single year above all other Wizards moments but I am. I know Ted is deliberately exiling Gilbert Arenas by not including anything Agent Zero did in Washington but for all the great game winners Gil hit, this one was better and more important. Too bad the one in game six didn't count.

1. Champions (100/121)
I mean is there really any competition for this? The only championship won by a non-AFL resident of the building and it was clinched in the building. No contest. This is number one.

There you have it. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. At least until Elena Delle Donne makes the Mystics into champions or Bradley Beal wins the NBA Most Valuable Player award. Go ahead and tell me I'm wrong. This is clearly a list heavily sponsored by Ted Leonsis. The complete absence of Wizards prior to John Wall's arrival is testament to that. I still think Gilbert Arenas at his best was better than any other Wizard at his best.

And yes, I'm still having doubts about that nine spot.

November 11, 2018

The Patch

Let's face it. So far this season, the Wizards stink. It's either poor coaching, poor roster assembly, lack of effort, lack of caring or all of the above which has gotten the team off to a 3-9 start through last night's victory agains the Miami Heat in southern Florida. Tied with the Atlanta Hawks was not where I thought we'd be 12 games in. 

By the way, it's definitely at least poor roster assembly.

From the opening tip against Miami in the season opener at Capital One Arena on October 18 to the final buzzer last night at American Airlines Arena, the mood of Wizards fans and Wizards Twitter has been like a pendulum the last month. Calls of "Fire Ernie!" (they should, and I mean now) and "Fire Scotty!" (they should soon unless...) and critiques like "John Wall looks out of shape" (he does) and "the Wizards don't like each other and that's why they look like they don't care" have turned to guarded optimism after just one road win against a maybe playoff hopeful. I actually saw one tweet this morning proclaiming the Wizards as a title contender. Not sure how beating the 2018 version of the Miami Heat gets you to championship hopeful but that's where some Wizards fans are right now. I feel their pain. Truly.

And don't worry, that situation will likely correct itself this week.

About a week and a half ago, the Wizards released some news about their jerseys for the young season and it was about as good and bad as the team has been so far this year. Just hours apart the team revealed this year's fourth jersey (dubbed by Nike as the City Edition just like last year) and then announced they would be joining 27 of the other 29 teams (Indiana and Oklahoma City are the lone holdouts) in the NBA in slapping advertisements on their threads for this season and presumably forever.

A close up look at this year's Wizards City Edition jersey.
Let's cover the good really quickly then move on to the point of this post. This year's City Edition uniforms are exactly the same as last year's but instead of being mostly white, they are mostly black. I think Wizards Twitter about exploded when these things were revealed. In the midst of pretty much the maximum level of angst experienced by Wizards fans (the team was 1-6 at the time) this year's fourth uni got almost universal praise. I'm not as psyched about black uniforms as just about everyone else in the D.C. area I guess. I think they are OK. If nothing else, the Washington Monument shows up way better on the sides of the jerseys than it did on the whites last year. It's also going to be really difficult for me to not buy the truly excellent City Edition black with red D.C. flag t-shirt that Nike brought out to accompany these things though.

Now that's out of the way, let's talk about jersey sponsorships. I knew this day would one day come when the Wizards would cave and let some company pay some money to slap their advertisement on the Wizards jerseys but it doesn't mean I have to like it. This stinks. It's purely a money grab because the league can. The press release announced this news as "more than a patch" and they are absolutely correct. It's a violation, it's unnecessary, it's ugly and it just plain sucks. I thought when the Wizards finally did this that I would roll over, having been desensitized to this stuff by 27 prior franchises. I didn't. It's truly terrible. I hate it. The only thing worse about the jersey patch is I know there's no going back.

And yes, this is all about the principle of the thing. It's not at all about GEICO, the company who the Wizards are allowing to befoul their jerseys. I actually love GEICO. When I was first trying to get car insurance for myself they were the only insurance company willing to let me buy insurance despite a flawless driving record and I've been with them ever since. But their name does not belong on my basketball team's jersey any more than GE belongs on the Boston Celtics jerseys or Zatarain's belongs on the New Orleans Pelicans jerseys or Bumble belongs on the Los Angeles Clippers jerseys. 

OK, the Bumble thing is pretty appropriate.

The Wizards aren't the only team afflicted with the GEICO ad on their jersey. The brand new Capital City Go-Go also get an extra large sponsorship from my favorite insurance company on their kit every game this season. I'm not so upset about this branding. There's no way the G-League makes money for the NBA owners and ads have been rampant in the NBA's development system for years. I actually find the GEICO wording less objectionable than the "Capital City" wording on the team's blue jerseys. Could they have found a worse font for these things? I'm not sure they could.

But the team that really got screwed by this partnership ('s more than a patch) are the Washington Mystics. Sure, advertisements looks awful on NBA jerseys but if we had to have them, they couldn't really have made them any smaller and the GEICO fits in pretty well into the space on the left shoulder. Ditto for the Go-Go branding but at least they put the GEICO at the bottom of the jersey which allowed the name of the city (sort of...I still don't like the Capital City name) and the team nickname to be where it belongs on the shirt. But the Mystics jerseys look like they are playing on the GEICO company basketball team.

Look, I get the WNBA takes a back seat to the NBA and apparently also the G-League. But unless you have some kind of great seats or some kind of great eyes, it's going to be difficult to tell that you are rooting for the Mystics or the city of Washington when you are at a game. Sure the name (in logo form) is still on the jersey, but it's about as big as the GEICO logo on the NBA version although the font size is way smaller. 

I know the Mystics are not the only WNBA team to have this happen to them. In fact most of the teams are using this same strategy of having the sponsorship across the top of the uniform and the team logo on the shoulder. Notable exceptions include the Chicago Sky who have sold advertising space both across the top of the jersey AND on the shoulder (and so have no team identification at all) and the Las Vegas Aces who are using the NBA model with the team name where it belongs and a small advertisement on the shoulder.

The reason the Mystics can't use the Go-Go style of design is that the bottom of all the WNBA jerseys features the Verizon logo. But I don't see why the Mystics can't force the GEICO logo into the same spot that the NBA places it just like the Aces have done. How much is GEICO really paying for the WNBA sponsorship anyway?

Call me old-fashioned. Call me resistant to change. Call me just plain old and stuck in the past. But I don't like these things one bit. I've been watching teams playing European soccer with very large advertisements across their chests for as long as I can remember and I guess I accept that. But there's no good reason for the NBA to do this except to generate slightly more (and I do mean slightly more) revenue. I hate this. Thank God they are still selling jerseys without the ads. Although considering the Wizards performance the last couple of years, I'm sticking with my old Adidas John Wall jersey for as long as I can I'm thinking.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming. Fire Ernie!

October 19, 2018

Magnet / Bobblehead / Poster

This is my annual Washington Wizards promotional schedule blog post. For the past six years, it's been called Free Stuff! This year's isn't. When I first wrote this post, it was a joyous celebration of the long tradition of kicking back a little love to the fans for showing up to games in the form of trinkets handed out to those folks crossing the threshold of some special regular season games. This year's isn't.

Last year the Washington Wizards gave away stuff to fans at just four games. Yes, they released a schedule with many more games on it like Polish Heritage Night and Student Rush night but there wasn't actually anything given away those nights other than the XL t-shirts cannon-shotted into the crowd during the fourth quarter to get folks to make a little noise. The four items handed out last year? A schedule magnet, a bobblehead, a poster and a pair of sunglasses.

The prior year, the promotional schedule included three games featuring a schedule magnet, a bobblehead and a poster. Year before that? Schedule magnet, bobblehead, poster and snowglobe. Seeing a pattern?

The Wizards finally updated their 2018-2019 promotional schedule either Thursday night or early Friday morning. All 40 (remember there's one home game in London) home games this year are on it although the promotion listed for a full 12 games is just which of the five jerseys the team will use this year will be worn that night. The rest of the schedule is littered with Kids Day or NBA Fit or G-Wiz Birthday, none of which are promotional nights in any real sense of the word. Remove all that sort of nonsense and you'll find the Wizards are giving away gifts to fans on three nights. Want to take a guess at what the three items are? Yep, that's right: schedule magnet, bobblehead and poster.

So I get the Wizards don't have to give away anything to fans at the door. I'm sure some teams don't ever hand out anything. But if you are going to have a promotional schedule, make it a real promotional schedule. This one is about as lazy as you can get. Does the team actually pay someone to come up with this? If they do, I can save them a lot of money and give you next year's slate: how about handing out a magnetic schedule, a bobblehead and a poster? Who exactly the bobblehead is this year is not yet announced by the way. It's just a bobblehead. My money is on Dwight Howard.

What's the problem here exactly? The Capitals (owned by the exact same group) have seven giveaways this year. And yes, there's a schedule magnet, bobblehead and poster on their list too. Other NBA teams have way more giveaways. Earlier this month, I posted my annual bobblehead roundup which has many, many teams handing out multiple bobbles. Why can't we get that too?

The entire season this year is sponsored by Capital One and all three freebees are sponsored by that same company. Have we just turned over the promotional schedule to this company and let them hand out whatever they feel like (which apparently is not much)? We all know how good banks (along with insurance and pharmaceutical companies) are at making money so if that's what's going on the next nine years or so (assuming their presentation of the schedule matches the duration of their naming rights deal) of Cap One sponsorships are going to be bleak.

April 5, 2019 is the annual Wizards bobblehead day. It's also Fan Appreciation Day. I guess that's appropriate because free bobbleheads make me feel appreciated as a fan, as does a competitive team and ticket price increases of less than 20% in a year when the team clinches the eight seed and loses in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately, Fan Appreciation Day comes just once a year so one bobblehead, increases in ticket prices, below expectations on court performance and loss of ancillary benefits like VIP access come the other 364 days of the year.

To fans too? Not convinced.

October 17, 2018

Fluid Tickets v. 3

Two years ago, the Washington Wizards rolled out a program called the Fluid Ticket Program, a way for season ticket holders to trade in their seats which they couldn't or didn't want to use for whatever reason and get store credit, so to speak. Today, the Wizards announced the continuation of that program for the third year but just like last year, they tweaked it a little bit.

During the first year of its existence, the program was awesome because it allowed season ticket holders to trade in below market value games (like say...Phoenix on a Tuesday) and recover the full value of your purchase price for later use. The bad news here was that you no longer had tickets to that game; the good news is you could easily trade in a few games or throw in few extra bucks and get an upgraded seat to a different game. 

Now this all wouldn't work very well if there wasn't a pretty good inventory of available seats. Fortunately during the first year, there was, including a boatload of all-inclusive VIP seats. It allowed folks like me who wanted the occasional VIP experience to get it fairly affordably, especially since the Wiz had been finding any way and every way to limit common riffraff 100 level season ticket holders like me from getting any sort of access to all-inclusive lounges.

Last year, the team tweaked the program a little, including placing a cutoff date for returns at the end of February. That meant pretty much no available inventory during the last six weeks of the season which meant no opportunity to upgrade. Last year's inventory in my opinion was less attractive than the first season, primarily because the people in the VIP sections weren't trading in their tickets as much. My suspicion here was that some people got caught with a balance on their accounts at the end of the year which quite clearly according to the program rules got returned to the team. The other realization I'm sure some of the VIP ticket holders had was that there was nothing to upgrade to. They already had the best seats in the building; what were they trading in their tickets for? Credit? For what? Worse seats than they already had?

Now the program is back and it's worth covering the new rules and what it likely means, good and bad, for season ticket holders. I'm writing this assuming VIP experiences are essentially not available. Over the summer the Wizards cut back the number of VIP seats dramatically which effectively raised the price point on these seats significantly. Unless the team is offering VIP upgrades that don't come with seats (i.e. just buying wristbands but sitting in your regular seats), I'm thinking the Fluid Tickets Program is unfortunately all-inclusive free this year. Time will tell on that one.

Can't imagine I'm getting an upgrade like this out of the Fluid Ticket Program this year; too bad.
Before we get to this year's rules, you access the program the same way you did the last two years: by using the Wizards app on your smartphone. Open the app, click on "Arena" at the bottom of the screen and then hit the Fluid Ticket Program tile shown in the picture at the top of this post.

If you used the program the last two years, you'll know the Wizards gave each season ticket holders some seed money to start them off with some discounted upgrades. That was a nice touch. It appears that perk is gone this year. It appears this year you gotta buy in with your own cash. That, quite frankly, sucks if its true. I checked the app earlier today and saw no obvious balance in my account. It appears it's true.

Some parts of the program are the same as last season, including the cutoff date of February 28 and the fact that any balance you have at the end of the season gets returned to the team. My prediction here is that there will be limited inventory at the end of the season but at least there's some time for you to use your leftover balance by that point in the season.

The timing of returning your tickets has changed for the better and for the worse. First, there are no returns allowed within 48 hours of tipoff. That means no more last minute returning for credit when your tickets don't sell on the secondary market. Planning on doing that for tomorrow's game? Better drop the price now, because it's already too late to get team credit. However, if you plan ahead and return your tickets to the team more than seven days before tip time, you will get a 15% bump. Assuming there's a decent inventory, that might allow you upgrade easier than in past seasons.

The last advertised change is that there's a limit of 10 games per season to trade in. I can't imagine this is a big deal. There are only 28 games before the February 28 cutoff date anyway and if you are using the program that much, you should probably consider getting your tickets some other way because it's likely cheaper. I also assume that this rule means there's a limit of 10 transactions. I have two sets of tickets on my account, I assume if I can't make it to a game, I would need to trade in two sets of two and that might count as two transactions even though it's just one game. I can't imagine my situation is anywhere near typical.

If, other than the rules above, the Program works just like it did last year then I can see only two ways season ticket holders could possibly use this in a smart way: (1) to use money you already spent to buy extra tickets to games when you need more tickets than are on your account and (2) to trade in a few games you can't attend for the change to get an upgraded seat to a future home game. This last one only works if there are better seats than yours available, meaning folks in the 400 level (and maybe the 200 leave) are likely the only ones who can realistically take advantage of the program in this way.

There is one unknown here and that is it appears you can use this program to upgrade your tickets the day of the game but won't see available inventory for an hour before tipoff. It might be worth keeping an eye on this feature which I believe is new to the program this year.

My expectations for this program are pretty low this year. I got a lot of value the past two years by smartly trading in some worthless tickets for some pretty cool upgrades but I'm assuming the change in the all-inclusive profile across the arena is going to significantly affect this program. We'll see what happens over the course of the season but if it's going to work the way I think it's going to work, it's just one more case of declining benefits for those of us who show up year after year. Oh well...

October 14, 2018

Bobblehead Nation 2018

I just got one question to ask NBA fans getting ready for the 2018-2019 season. That question of course is...who's ready for some bobbleheads? I mean the season starts Tuesday. It's about time I got this annual post out of the way.

If you are in Salt Lake City or Houston or Chicago or Oakland or Phoenix or Delaware or Los Angeles or Cleveland or Detroit or Milwaukee or Fort Wayne or Charlotte or Santa Cruz or Brooklyn (maybe) or Atlanta (also maybe), you know you are going to be rewarded for answering that question in the affirmative if you then take the time to show up at your local NBA arena on the right gameday. Heck, if you are a Warriors fan in the Bay Area (or even if you are not a Warriors fan but just happened to go to the right preseason game) it's already well into bobblehead season because the Dubs routinely hand out bobbles to paying customers and die-hard fans before the regular season even tips off. Lucky bastards!

Now, if you are in Memphis or San Antonio...sorry, folks. Promotional schedule is out and there ain't no bobbleheads on it. Although maybe I'm breaking the news too soon. Last year the Milwaukee Bucks released their bobblehead-less giveaway schedule and then added a bunch of bobbles later on as part of their Legends of the Rafters celebration last year. Oh...and the Los Angeles thing is Clippers, not Lakers. Sorry, Lakers fans. 

Don't know if your team has or has not released their freebee schedule yet? Check the bottom of this post. There's a list of those teams I haven't found dates for yet. In the meantime, let's get to the list of those who are on board with the cause.

29 Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
Last year the Golden State Warriors celebrated the preseason by giving away two bobbleheads during their two home games. The two years before that? Three per season. How are the Dubs simultaneously the best team in the NBA on the floor and in the bobblehead giveaway department? I'm jealous as hell here. This year the team starts handing out bobbles in September (yes, most of you already missed this one) with Draymond Green and his three Larry O'Brien trophies.

8 Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Every year in Golden State is Steph Curry bobblehead year. I sometimes complain about the repeat player bobbleheads the Wizards hand out because there's only one precious bobblehead per year in most years. I wouldn't complain about having five or six Steph bobbles considering the Dubs hand out six or seven of these things per season. This preseason in Oakland it's throwback Steph. He's got his old school Warriors jersey on (the design that matches the awful old Wizards jerseys so closely that I'm convinced Golden State and Washington got a two-fer here) and his RUN TMC hat celebrating the fast paced Warriors featuring Tim Hardaway (the T), Mitch Richmond (the M) and Chris Mullin (the C) back in the 1990s. This bobble (along the September Dray bobble) look amazing. Is it just the pics or are these things really of superior quality?

12 Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
The past few years have seen various Warriors players in San Jose Sharks sweaters for their annual preseason gig in San Jose just down the 101. This year, fans are treated to Kevin Durant in a goalie's uniform while also somehow holding a basketball in his glove. Impossible? Who cares? It's a free preseason bobblehead. I'm still jealous but at least the preseason portion of this post is over. And don't get upset if you are a Warriors fan and want a KD bobble in hoops gear. That will happen soon enough...

17 James Harden MVP (Houston Rockets)
Win an award, get a bobblehead, at least that's what some teams are doing. I guess that's justified. Last year the Rockets gave Eric Gordon his very own bobble for winning the 2016-17 NBA Sixth Man Award. This year, James Harden gets his very own bobble with an MVP trophy in his hands. This thing is seriously impressive; check out the detail on the statue the Beard is holding. But what exactly is Harden wearing? Is that matching pajamas and overcoat? Not sure I'm understanding things right here. Get there early for this one, Rockets fans. They are only handing out 3,000 of these babies. This is, by the way, at least the fourth Harden bobblehead handed out by the Rockets in the last five years.

20 Joel Embiid (Delaware Blue Coats)
OK, so I've never ever featured a G-League team giving away a bobblehead in this post before but this Embiid bobble is so spectacular that I had to break tradition (spoiler alert: he's not the only G-League freebie in this post). Embiid is ultimately going to be one of those opposing players that I love to hate because (a) he's really good and (b) he's got a big mouth. For now, the 76ers haven't been successful enough that it's getting to me. For now. The Delaware Blue Coats used to be the 87ers but they are recently renamed and moved to Wilmington (or will be later this year). November 20 they are playing a game at the Sixers' home Wells Fargo Center. Go there (not Delaware) to pick this one up.

28 Lou Williams Sixth Man of the Year (Los Angeles Clippers)
Last year the Wizards blew an incredible number of games they shouldn't have through lack of effort and sheer stupidity including an early December game in Los Angeles against the Clippers. Down two with 8.0 seconds remaining, the Clips put Lou Williams in the game who proceeded to drain a three with just 1.0 second left and kill the Wizards. It's stuff like this that got Williams the Sixth Man Award last year. He's available for pickup at Staples on October 28 complete with his award.

31 Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
Told you there would be a KD bobblehead in hoops gear soon. Can't even get out of the first month of the regular season without another Dubs bobble to go with your three from the preseason. Of course, it's the Warriors so this bobblehead like all the rest comes with a pile of hardware. Jealous. Again.

12 Dominque Wilkins (Atlanta Hawks)
Atlanta's back in the bobblehead game after nothing but crickets for years. Makes sense that they would start with the human highlight reel because honestly if you asked most people to name anyone past or present who played for the Hawks, Dominique would be the ONLY person they could name. And yes, there is some disrespect intended to the current roster. A couple of notes about this night and the Hawks' schedule in general. First, this bobblehead is available to the first 300 (that's not a lot) orders of tickets for this night, so by the time you read this, they may all be gone. And second, there's an image of a Harry the Hawk bobblehead on their website alongside their promo calendar link but the Harry bobblehead isn't on the schedule. Mystery!

26 Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers) / Splash Brothers (Golden State Warriors)
No more Kyrie Irving. No more LeBron James. Might as well start cozying up to Kevin Love in the bobblehead department because he's the closest thing to a superstar the Cavs have left now. And with Love signing a contract extension in the offseason after apparently being told Cleveland wasn't tanking, he's either there for the next few years or a good trade chip at the deadline later this season. Either way, odds are pretty good that Love's on the roster when Cavs fans (or the ones that are left anyway) show up at the Q on November 26.

Speaking of teams that made the Finals last year (were we?), it's been about a month since the Warriors have handed out a bobblehead to their fans so it must be about time for one right? Or more accurately, two. This paired bobblehead features both Steph Curry and Klay Thompson for diehard Warriors fans to add their shelf of bobbleheads. Actually, check that. What am I thinking? I meant shelves of bobbleheads. The Dubs aren't the first team to roll out the double bobble (heck, even the Wizards have already done that) but you know I'd be standing in line for this one if I was a Warriors fan (or just a frontrunner I guess).

11 Carmelo Anthony (Houston Rockets)
Seriously? Was this in 'Melo's contract when he signed with Houston, do you think? Carmelo is on his third team in three years (assuming you don't count the day he was with the Hawks between the Thunder and Rockets). He's a bench player now and he's apparently OK with it which he wasn't in Oklahoma City. What changed? It had to be the Rockets promising him a bobblehead, right? 'Melo's not really deserving here but when it comes to bobbleheads and basketball players, deserve's got nothing to do with it.

12 DeMarcus Cousins (Golden State Warriors)
When the Warriors signed DeMarcus Cousins this offseason the rest of the NBA shook its collective head at the rich getting richer. The reality is that Boogie may not even play for the Dubs this season and if he does he might not be anything close to the player he was before tearing his achilles tendon last season in New Orleans. There are two things Cousins might get out of this season: (1) a championship ring, even while doing about as much as me to win one and (2) a bobblehead likeness of himself to add to his mantel next to the Kings version of him from three years ago.

14 Muggsy Bogues (Charlotte Hornets)
If there's a team I'd want to be a fan of this year just for their bobbleheads, it's the Charlotte Hornets. They are celebrating the team's 30th anniversary down in Buzz City this year and they are handing out a series of throwback giveaways featuring icons of the team's history, including three in bobblehead form. It all starts on December 14 with Muggsy Bogues who at 5'-3" in height is the shortest player ever to play in the NBA. Bogues was originally drafted in 1987 by the Washington Bullets but in true Bullets/Wizards fashion, left unprotected during the 1988 expansion draft and he was snatched up by the Hornets. He is still the Hornets franchise leader in minutes played, assists and steals.

I can't let the Hornets 30th anniversary celebration go without pointing out some math. This season is 30 years from the team's first season but it's not the 30th season the team (or maybe I should say a team) is playing in the Queen City. It's the 29th season of hoops in Charlotte because there was no basketball team in the city for two seasons in the early aughts between the time they moved to New Orleans (where they ultimately ended up as the Pelicans) and the NBA gave the city the Bobcats (who are now the Hornets again). Still, there are some killer Hornets bobbleheads this year.

28 Steve Martin (Charlotte Hornets)
No, not THAT Steve Martin. This Steve Martin was the Hornets original play by play TV guy who followed the team down to New Orleans when the team moved further down south before returning back to Charlotte when the Bobcats started playing. Martin retired following the end of the 2017-2018 season. Appropriately, Martin's bobblehead is a talking bobblehead. Happy retirement. I'm assuming the team will reserve one of these for Martin.

2 Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns)
Number one pick overall. Dismal franchise the last few years. You get a bobblehead no questions asked. Your first ever free Deandre Ayton bobblehead in Phoenix is a draft night bobblehead with Ayton showing off the Bahamian, Jamaican and Nigerian flags sewn into the lining of his jacket. The detail on this one will give any other bobblehead being handed out this year a run for the best bobblehead of the year trophy (there is no such trophy to my knowledge but there should be).  The flags? Ayton's from the Bahamas, his mom is of Bahamian and Jamaican descent and his dad is from Nigeria. There you go.

8 Andre Igoudala (Golden State Warriors)
Another month, another Golden State bobblehead. That's eight (counting the double Splash Brothers bobblehead as two) in case you are counting. Even if you are not, it's still eight. Iggy comes with a couple or maybe more championship trophies as most Warriors bobbleheads do. Showing off is not cool, although I guess they earned it.

19 Glen Rice (Charlotte Hornets)
Glen Rice was drafted by the Miami Heat with the fourth overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft but he made all three of his All-Star Game appearances as a member of the Charlotte Hornets after being traded there in exchange for Alonzo Mourning, who apparently disliked fellow Hornet Larry Johnson so much that he demanded to be traded. In the second of his three All-Star appearances, Rice ended up as the MVP. He's in boxes waiting for Hornets fans on January 19 complete with his All-Star MVP award. No word if Sarah Palin's showing up to get her hands on Glen's trophy.

25 Lauri Markkanen (Chicago Bulls)
How many Finnish NBA players have had a bobblehead night? I'm guessing before January 25, 2019 there are none. Markkanen bucks that trend and will probably be the only dude to do so for a long time. Markkanen made a splash in Chicago last year. This year, he gets one of the highest honors bestowed on an NBA player: his own bobblehead.

29 Colin Sexton (Cleveland Cavaliers)
What's up with the almost total lack of rookies on this year's bobblehead slate? Sure we got Deandre Ayton earlier in January but other than that to this point in the season, that's it! Sexton was taken at the number eight overall spot by the Cavs in this year's draft out of Alabama. I guess the Cavs are a little strapped for choices this year, right? If you are a Wizards fan traveling for a roadie in Cleveland, might want to pick this game if you want to pick up an opponent's bobblehead.

4 Josh Jackson (Phoenix Suns)
The Phoenix Suns selected Jackson number four overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, their second consecutive number four overall pick. So far (admittedly after a small sample size of a singe season), he's looking better than the guy they picked up the previous year (Dragan Bender). Jackson made the All-Rookie Second Team last year. Phoenix is going all in on Jackson, Ayton and Devin Booker. I mean what else are they going to do?

6 Shaun Livingston (Golden State Warriors)
By this point in the season, I'm tired of writing about the Golden State Warriors and their trove of bobbleheads. Let's move on shall we? Besides, there are other bobbles by this team to get to that don't have hardware.  Livingston, by the way, is my favorite Warrior. I'd show up for this one over all others. Just don't feel like writing a lot about him right now.

12 Baron Davis (Golden State Warriors)
Before the current team started winning titles, Baron Davis had sort of cemented larger than life status for himself in Warrior-land, leading the Dubs to a first round upset as the eight seed over the number one and defending NBA Champions Dallas Mavericks in 2007. It was the first time an eight seed had upset a one seed in the NBA playoffs in a seven game series. The atmosphere at Oracle was crazy and Baron Davis was the leader of everything that season. It's fitting that he gets a throwback bobblehead. Throwback bobbles can be awesome. This one is.

24 Surfin' Klay Thompson (Santa Cruz Warriors)
I don't know what's up with me and G League bobbleheads this year but here we are again. If you are a SC Warriors fan, I suppose you already know that there are parent team bobbles available for pickup at the G League level. This year, the Dubs are giving away Draymond Green, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Splash Brothers bobbleheads that are identical to those you can pick up at Oracle Arena at the major league level but this one is unique to a Santa Cruz game, even if the actual game is in Oakland. I love this. It gets team bobblehead collectors to circle a game on the G League calendar. I'd love the Wizards to do this with the Capital City Go-Go but let's face it, no way is that happening.

25 Larry Nance, Jr. (Cleveland Cavaliers) / Jerry West (Los Angeles Clippers)
If you know much about the non-LeBron Cleveland Cavaliers history, you'll know that one of the great teams in Cavs history was the late 1980s to early 1990s team with Brad Dougherty, Larry Nance, John "Hot Rod" Williams and Mark Price. Cavs fans actually thought they had a shot at it all those years while completely ignoring the ascendancy of Michael Jordan. Of course, they were totally wrong. Last year, the Cavs while chasing another title the couldn't and didn't win traded for Larry Nance's kid, Larry, Jr. who was drafted by the Lakers in the 2015 NBA Draft. The Cavs actually un-retired Nance's jersey so his son could wear it which is honestly pretty cool. This year, you can pick up a Larry Nance, Jr. bobblehead wearing a Larry Nance jersey. Although updated to the current awful Cavs jersey.

Speaking of legends in NBA cities, Jerry West is an icon in Los Angeles where he played professionally for 14 years and his likeness in bronze is prominently displayed right outside the front entrance of Staples Center. So it seems only natural that a trip to Staples on February 25 would get you a bobblehead of the logo himself, right? But at a Clippers game? Yep, West is now on the board of the Clips. Seems like this is taking advantage of the situation and/or sticking it to the Lakers.

8 Larry Johnson (Charlotte Hornets)
The last Hornets bobblehead of the season is Larry Johnson, complete with gold tooth (that he later ditched in his resurgence as a playoff star with the New York Knicks) and center part. Johnson was one of the first truly national Hornets stars when he made several commercials for Converse under his alter ego grandmama, a superstar dunking...well...grandma. I loved Larry Johnson when I was a Knicks fan before I moved to Washington in 1999. If there's one road team bobble I'd love to have this year, it's this one. Coincidentally, the Hornets are playing the Wizards this night. Unfortunately, I'm out of the country. Otherwise, I'd be mighty tempted to sneak down to Charlotte mid-week and pick this one up.

17 Reggie Jackson (Detroit Pistons)
Stan Van Gundy is gone from Detroit but the Pistons somehow are still all in on Reggie Jackson. Jackson is the first of three Motor City bobbles this year for the revamped (via questionable trade) Pistons. While Detroit clearly has more star power this year, they may not have much more success, even with reigning coach of the year and recently fired from Toronto Dwayne Casey at the helm. Get a new point guard, Detroit. But pick up this bobblehead. A boblehead's a bobblehead.

20 Hall of Fame Benny the Bull (Chicago Bulls)
I have no idea (1) what the heck a Hall of Fame Benny bobblehead looks like and (2) why the Bulls feel like they need to give out Benny the Bull bobbles in two consecutive years (the pic above is last year's not this year's HOF model). I guess this is celebrating Benny's 2017 induction into the Mascot Hall of Fame. The Mascot Hall located in downtown Whiting, Indiana promises it's going to be opening the doors sometime this year; we'll see I guess. For what it's worth, I have Benny ranked as the fourth best mascot in the NBA. Neither Hugo the Hornet, Stuff the Magic Dragon nor our beloved  G Wiz, all of whom I have ranked ahead of Benny, are in, although it's worth noting Stuff was in Benny's voting class but didn't get the votes I guess.

22 Larry Nance, Sr. (Cleveland Cavaliers)
One Larry Nance bobblehead not enough for you this year, Cavs fans? On March 22, you can pick up a Nance Sr. bobblehead to go with your Nance Jr. bobble you picked up about four weeks prior. Please issue this thing without the orange and powder blue unis. If there's any Cavs jersey worse than the current one, it's those things.

23 TBD (Fort Wayne Mad Ants)
Yep, more G League. Other than that, I got nothing else here. I only know that there a to be determined bobblehead on the Fort Wayne Mad Ants schedule. Maybe it's a Pacer; maybe it's not. Only time will tell.

30 Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
I should point out here that March 30 is superhero night at Talking Stick Resort Arena so I'm assuming the Booker bobblehead is sporting a cape or an "S" on his chest or a mask or something along with his Suns jersey and shorts. Booker's about as close as the Suns have to a superhero down there right now so I guess he deserves it.

7 Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)
Please please please tell me this is an Andre Drummond shooting free throw bobblehead. I might have to check my schedule for 4/7 just to see if I had plans if the Pistons decided to issue the 'Dre bobble in that variety.

9 Blake Griffin (Detroit Pistons)
Why do people like Blake Griffin so much? He robbed John Wall of Rookie of the Year by being injured during his actual rookie year. He also robbed JaVale McGee of the 2011 Slam Dunk Contest by jumping over a tiny corner of a Kia and making it seem like a big deal. And then there's the whole Kendall Jenner thing with her dumping Blake as soon as he was no longer convenient to Los Angeles after the Clips shipped him to the Pistons. OK, so the last one was a low blow that was completely uncalled for. I'm sticking by the other two.

10 Ralph Lawler (Los Angeles Clippers) / Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
If the Clippers giving away a Jerry West bobblehead seems out of place, them handing out one featuring Ralph Lawler does not in any way. Among NBA broadcasters, they don't come much better than Lawler, whose career with the Clips spans 40 years from the time they moved to San Diego from Buffalo in 1978 (they were the Braves in Buffalo and became the Clippers in SD). April 10 is Ralph Lawler's last day broadcasting with the Clippers. Congrats, Ralph. Enjoy retirement.

On the same day the Clips give away Ralph Lawler in every sense of the word, the Bucks hand out their one lonely bobblehead for the season. Surprise! Surprise! It's a Giannis Antetokounmpo bobble. Again. I swear I'm never going to be able to spell Giannis' last name without looking at it written somewhere else. I learned how to spell Oleksiy Pecherov just fine but I can't get this one down quite yet.

Missing from this list? Any bobbles that may be in the works or ready in boxes to be handed out to fans in Boston, Toronto, Philly, New York, Brooklyn (except as noted below), Indianapolis, D.C., Orlando, Miami, Dallas (also with the below exception), OKC, Denver, Portland, Minny, Sacto and New Orleans. They may just have not released their promo schedules yet or some may just be not giving their fans the love they deserve by handing out some free bobbleheads.

Also missing? There are definitely other bobbleheads available this year around the NBA that will require a little more effort or money than just showing up to a single game.

The Brooklyn Nets are selling an 11 games for the price of 10 package in celebration of Jason Kidd's enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball hall of fame. The package features a HOF Kidd bobble available for pickup starting December 23. Just in time for Christmas, I guess. No word on whether the bobblehead will bail on you when there's a whiff of getting a better offer elsewhere. Want to pick this one up? Try this link.

Out west in Utah, the Jazz have rolled out five (FIVE!!) bobbleheads available to fans for picking up a three pack of tickets. Are you kidding me? Five bobbles for buying tickets to just three games? And these bobbles are no slouches. Rookie of the Year Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Darrell Griffith/Dr. Dunkenstein, Joe Ingles and Jae Crowder. This is five years of Wizards bobbleheads just for showing up for three games. I'm tempted to call up the Jazz and get my three pack just so I can have these bobbles. And, yes, I know Ben Simmons was ROY last year. I'm still bitter about the whole Blake Griffin / John Wall thing so I'm naturally in Mitchell's camp here. Simmons is scary good, though.

Finally, there's Dallas. The Mavs ran a contest online called the Dirk Nowitzki "Golden Dirk" Bobblehunt for fans to be able to win one of ten unique gold colored Nowitzki bobbles, in case the ten (yes, ten) Nowitzki bobbleheads they gave out last year to fans wasn't enough. Want to participate in this contest? Too bad. It's over. Congrats to whoever got these.

If there's any other news posted by end of December-ish, maybe I'll do another post with an update. For now, that's all I got. Happy bobble hunting, NBA fans.