November 16, 2014

Bobblehead Nation

It's November 16 and by now, most all of the NBA teams have announced some sort of promotional or giveaway schedule for the 2014-2015 NBA season. I found out about the Wizards' promotional schedule at our second home preseason game against Maccabi Haifa on October 15 and previewed it in my annual Free Stuff! column on this blog. In case you didn't read that post or just want the quick synopsis, I have two words for you: No Bobbleheads! 

So now it's about a month later and I'm still steamed. I know, there's a G Wiz bobblehead available from the team as part of the G Wiz Kids Club package this year, but it's not the same as an in game giveaway and it sort of costs money, although I am sure it will retain the "free" quality level that all promotional bobbleheads seem to have. From my perspective, the Wizards lack of bobbleheads this year is all about money. We have plenty of folks to choose from for potential bobblehead giveaways (my top three in order would be Marcin Gortat, Randy Wittman and Drew Gooden III) so it must be strictly a dollar saving cut. That's my take anyway. 

So I started the Wizards lack of regard for the serious bobblehead fanatic a league wide epidemic? Turns out it's not. Not really anywhere close. There are plenty of teams without bobblehead giveaways this year, but there are plenty with them. And those teams that are giving away bobbles are not the worst in the league just looking to lure fans in to watch a pitiful squad lose. So based on my scouring of the internet over the last month or so, here's my "comprehensive" list (see qualification below) of bobblehead giveaways in the NBA this year. 

21 Andre Iguodala (Golden State Warriors) 
24 Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) 
I know what you are thinking…there are no regular season games this early in October, right? Right! The Golden State Warriors this year gave away bobbleheads DURING THE PRESEASON! Are you kidding me? What a way to get folks in the door for some meaningless exhibition games! And they are not giving away Justin Holiday and Ognjen Kuzmic bobbleheads. You get two of their best players in Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala. Awesome. This is not the last we will hear from Golden State in this post. 

1 Hugo the Hornet (Charlotte Hornets)
It feels so right to have Hugo the Hornet back in Charlotte where he belongs. I think it's totally fitting that he is the first bobblehead giveaway of the regular season! Hugo finished second in my mascot rank this summer. There's only one better. Great move by the newly renamed Hornets to start the season with this killer giveaway.

7 Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns)
Markieff Morris is the first player in the 2014-2015 regular season to get his own bobblehead. Really? Phoenix has something up their sleeve here. It can't be this simple. I'm not sure I could even recognize Markieff Morris if he were standing in front of me. More on this later.

29 Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
I don't think I'm too far off base by writing that the Milwaukee Bucks view Giannis Antetekounmpo as the savior of their franchise these days. If he pans out to be the player the Bucks' management thinks he will be, they may be right. Plus, I've never seen a player more thrilled with his own bobblehead. More Giannis for everyone!!!

3 Dynamic Duo (Houston Rockets)
I'm assuming the dynamic duo that the Rockets are referring to is Dwight Howard and James Harden. A two for one bobblehead is always a treat. My Phil Chenier / Steve Buckhantz broadcaster bobblehead is one of the prizes in my collection. I would feel remiss though if I didn't mention that this particular dynamic duo has a grand total of zero playoff series victories. I know, it's only one year but the word dynamic was used by the Rockets, not me.

4 Sarunas Marciulionis (Golden State Warriors)
Marciulionis was one of the first European basketball players to make it in the NBA, starring at Golden State for four years as mostly a bench player. But his influence on the game both worldwide and here in the United States was much much bigger. He played internationally for the Soviet Union and later (after independence was achieved) his home country of Lithuania. His story and the rest of the excellent early 1990s Lithuanian men's national team are wonderfully told in Marius Markevicius' film The Other Dream Team. This past summer, Saraunas was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Awesome choice. The first of three retired player bobbleheads issued by the Warriors this year.

5 Al Jefferson (Charlotte Hornets)
The Charlotte Hornets went 3-1 against my beloved Wizards last season and Al Jefferson was a big reason why. Despite not making it onto the All-Star team last winter, Al ended up as an All NBA Third Team selection. Not too shabby. It seems this bobblehead is well deserved. Charlotte wouldn't be half as good without big Al.

10 Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks) 
The love fest between the Mavericks and Tyson Chandler seemed destined to produce a reunion. Chandler was under appreciated in New York and the Mavs were roundly criticized for letting him go after winning their first and only NBA title in 2011. Not only does Chandler now feel the love that he was missing in the big apple, he also gets a bobblehead. This is the first of six (SIX!) bobbleheads on the Mavs schedule this year, and that doesn't count the exclusive for season ticket holders Dirk Nowitski bobblehead or the most awesome surprise for fans in March. Keep reading. 

12 Marcus Morris (Phoenix Suns) 
I knew Phoenix had something up their sleeve. This past offseason, the Phoenix Suns extended the contracts of Markieff and Marcus Morris. I'm not fully familiar with the ability of either Morris twin (identical by the way) but I would think one was enough. But since you have two on your team, why not save a little cash and make two identical bobbleheads and distribute them on two different gamedays so you can take credit for two giveaways. Brilliant! Having mocked the idea, the interlocking bases making one coherent bobblehead ensemble is pretty darned cool. 

18 Clyde Drexler (Houston Rockets) 
Clyde Drexler spent 11-1/2 seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers and appeared in two NBA Finals series with that franchise in addition to being the team's leading scorer of all time. But he is probably just as much identified with the city of Houston as Portland. He grew up in Houston, made three NCAA final four appearances at the University of Houston and won an NBA Championship with the Rockets in 1995. Drexler is the second of eight retired players to be given away in bobblehead form this year, and the only one not handed out by the Golden State Warriors or Toronto Raptors. 

22 Devin Harris (Dallas Mavericks) 
Is this a guilt bobblehead or is something else happening here? Last year the Mavericks agreed in principle with Harris on a three year, $9 million contract before it was discovered he had a toe injury. The result? A one year, $3 million contract for Harris. Maybe a bobblehead makes up for that? Or maybe there's something else going on down in Dallas which is pretty exciting. 

27 Jabari Parker (Milwaukee Bucks) 
Jabari Parker was selected second overall in this past summer's draft and along with Giannis Antetokounmpo represents what Milwaukee fans hope is the dawn of a new era for the Bucks. We'll see. I could be wrong on this one but it appears Parker is the only rookie this year to have a bobblehead giveaway. Kudos to the Bucks here! 

No, this is not Jabari Parker. It's Giannis and mini-Giannis.
7 Brandan Wright (Dallas Mavericks) / Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
I know this news comes as a blow to some readers of this post because up until now, it was possible to pick up every bobblehead in person with a carefully coordinated travel schedule. This date kills that plan. There's no way you can pick up a bobblehead in Dallas and be at the gate for the start of the Golden State game the same night. I'm on board with the Draymond Green bobblehead but Brandan Wright? He's a journeyman backup who's never averaged more than 9.3 points per game and that is in this season. If I were a Mavs fan, I'd be thrilled. There's hope for me getting a Wizards issued Kevin Seraphin bobblehead if Mark Cuban somehow swapped franchises with Ted Leonsis.

17 Lance Stephenson (Charlotte Hornets)
Sure, why not give Lance Stephenson a bobblehead. If he's as good as he thinks he is, he deserves one. We'll see if he's as good as he thinks he is.

27 Manute Bol (Golden State Warriors)
When I hear Manute Bol, I think Washington Bullets, not Golden State Warriors. Bol played more games and more seasons or partial seasons for the Bullets than any other team. Joe Lacob pulled one over on Ted Leonsis here. Rest in peace, Manute. The lucky Golden State fans who get to this game early get a true collectible.

2 Jae Crowder (Dallas Mavericks)
Are the Mavericks just filling in the gaps in fans' bobblehead teams this season by making all their role players into bobbleheads? If they are, I think that's awesome. A year and a half ago I questioned the wisdom of the Mavericks selling Jae Crowder jerseys in their team store at the American Airlines Center (see above). Now he has his own bobblehead. Is America a great country or what? I can't wait to see the hair on this bobblehead by the way. And yes, I'm still using my Blackberry 18 months later. Me and Mark Cuban, baby!

6 Jerome Williams or Charles Oakley or Damon Stoudamire or Morris Peterson (Toronto Raptors)
This year is the Toronto Raptors' 20th anniversary season. They are planning on four alumni bobblehead nights but have yet to determine the order of the four. I guess in the history of the raptors, these four represent the ultimate blue collar worker in the the Junkyard Dog (Williams); their first legitimate truly been there done that player (Oakley); the first Raptor to win an individual NBA award (Stoudamire - Rookie of the Year); and a dude who put up a lot of points (Peterson). Let me just say I will always think Michael Ruffin when I see the name Morris Peterson.

7 Brandon Knight (Milwaukee Bucks)
Somehow Brandon Knight always seems to get the best of John Wall in his one on one matchups. I don't have anything else to say on this one.

8 Patrick Beverley (Houston Rockets) 
If you asked me to name anything notable about Beverley's playing career, I would say he knocked Russell Westbrook out of the season in 2013. That's it. I can't think of anything else. Admittedly, I don't follow the Rockets that closely. It seems like Houston is following Dallas' lead of getting some role players their own bobblehead only on a smaller scale. Daryl Morey should be thrilled with that statement, not that he'll ever read this. 

11 Monta Ellis (Dallas Mavericks) 
Who knew that the Mavericks signing Ellis before last year would make such a difference. It seems to have transformed him from a self-centered me-first player into a guy willing to play for a team. I think it would be awesome if the Mavs made this bobblehead with a removable shirt so we could see Ellis' tree of life tattoo on his chest. Even if they don't, the workers in China making this one are going to have to work pretty hard on his arm and neck tattoos. Can't wait to see this one. 

22 Chandler Parsons (Dallas Mavericks) 
Bobblehead number six from the Mavs this year and third this month! That's three more this month than the Wizards have all year. Starting to get really jealous of Mavericks fans at this point. 

23 Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls) 
I think if I weren't a Wizards fan, Joakim Noah would be my favorite NBA player. I love how complete a player this guy is and how hard he plays. And since the Wizards managed to beat the Bulls in last year's playoffs, my opinion of Noah continues to be one of unbiased respect. 

26 Isaiah Thomas (Phoenix Suns) 
Thomas was Phoenix's big off season free agent acquisition so it makes total sense he gets a bobblehead right away. The Wizards should have a Marcin Gortat bobblehead for exactly the same reason. Yes, I know we get an action figure. They really should have both. 

27 Jerome Williams or Charles Oakley or Damon Stoudamire or Morris Peterson (Toronto Raptors) 
See February 6 above.

2 Mark Cuban Gnome (Dallas Mavericks)
Yes, I know a gnome is not a bobblehead but come on, how awesome a surprise is this for Mavs fans. I'd consider flying down to Texas just for this game to grab one of these things. After all, there's no Wizards game that night. We need (I mean really NEED) a Ted Gnome in D.C., don't we? I think we do.

3 Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) / Taj Gibson (Chicago Bulls)
Overrated prima donna point guard who plays for my least favorite opponent and a hard nosed defense first all hustle bench player on the same day? If I were trying to collect as many bobbleheads as possible this season, I'd head for Chicago for this day and skip the Kyrie bobblehead. At least 95% of NBA fans probably disagree with me on this one. And I really don't care.

13 Jerome Williams or Charles Oakley or Damon Stoudamire or Morris Peterson (Toronto Raptors)
See February 6 above.

18 Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) / Jason Kidd (Milwaukee Bucks) 
It looks like Jason Kidd is the only coach bobblehead giveaway this year in the NBA. I'll withhold my real feelings about Kidd's defection and Bucks' management's poaching him from the Nets (oops!) and just add more fuel to the Randy Wittman bobblehead campaign. Come on, Wizards! PLEEEEEASE!!! Also, Derrick Rose the same day? Good choice. Hopefully he's still playing by then. 

23 Rick Barry (Golden State Warriors) 
By all accounts, most every teammate that ever played with Barry eventually hated playing with him, but he did help bring Golden State their only NBA title in 1975. They beat the Washington Bullets to get there and amazingly finished first in their conference with only 48 wins. I guess in the non-tanking era there were no really bad teams to take advantage of. Anyway, I guess Barry deserves this for getting the Warriors a banner. 

27 Pierre the Pelican (New Orleans Pelicans) / Jerome Williams or Charles Oakley or Damon Stoudamire or Morris Peterson (Toronto Raptors) 
There are two mascots on this year's free bobblehead slate in the NBA this year. Pierre's a pretty good second mascot to be memorialized this year after Hugo on opening night in the Queen City. He's only been around two years but I had him in my top 10 this past September. The only Pelicans bobblehead this year. See February 6 above for the Raptors description. 

29 Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers) 
Is this Kevin Love's lone season in Cleveland before he bolts for the Lakers? If it is, this will be his only bobblehead as a Cavalier. I'm hoping this blog post is a foreshadowing. I'd love to get Love out of the East. 

No bobbleheads in April? That's correct. Not unless I missed some. For one month, the Wizards bobblehead output matches the rest of the league, meaning zero. April is the only bobblehead-less month on the schedule. There's always next year.

I am confident this is probably not the comprehensive list of bobblehead giveaways in the NBA this year because I just couldn't find schedules for some teams, namely the Celtics, Knicks, Pacers, Hawks, Magic, Spurs, Nuggets, Thunder, Timberwolves, Lakers and Kings. If anyone or those teams can send me their schedules, I'll update this post, add some analysis and give credit where credit is due. In the meantime, start booking your flights and getting your game tickets so you can grab the ones you see most value in. I'll be staying in Washington, although it's not for the bobbleheads because, well you know…

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