October 20, 2017

Bobblehead Nation 2017

Hey, NBA fans, are you ready for some bobbleheads? Yeah...me too. One of the most exciting parts for me about a new NBA season is finding out what bobbleheads are available from my local team at the arena. They continue to be THE premiere giveaway at the stadium doors. I'd travel around the country picking each one of these up if (a) I could afford it, (b) it was physically possible to be in two places at one time some nights and (c) I didn't have a job that I kinda need to do everything else I need do in life like attending Wizards games and blogging about bobblehead giveaways.
So here it is folks, my fourth annual summary of all bobbleheads available around the NBA (that I'm aware of) if you just show up at the right time in the right place. And yes, just like the last three years some of these have already passed and there will be some that I've missed. Blame it on your favorite team either not posting their promotional schedules on line or not posting them early enough. There's a full list of teams that are missing schedules at the bottom of this post.
Once again, there's some awfully good stuff out there and there are some teams with multiple bobbles available to their fans. Let's get right to it, starting with the kings of the bobblehead giveaways, the Golden State Warriors.

30 Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
For the fourth year in a row (and possibly further back than that), the Golden State Warriors are the first team to issue a bobblehead during the NBA season. Check that. For the fourth year in a row the Warriors are the first (and only) team to issue a bobblehead during the NBA PRE-season. This year's haul starts with the Draymond Green Defensive Player of the Year bobblehead in the Dubs' first preseason game. Dray is appropriately sculpted with his mouth wide open but somewhat puzzlingly without the DPOY trophy that this bobblehead is supposed to celebrate (he's got two championship trophies instead).

13 Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
Know why the Warriors are limiting their bobblehead giveaways to two preseason games? I'm guessing it's because that's all they got this year. Draymond Green in September is followed by Finals MVP Kevin Durant two weeks later. And yes, KD comes with both a championship trophy and the Finals MVP trophy as well as a yeah-I-jumped-ship-to-the-best-team-in-the-NBA-but-got-what-I-wanted-in-the-end cheesy smile on his face. Congrats I guess.
23 Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets)
When  he entered the league after being drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers, Eric Gordon was an untouchable piece in what was planned as a Clippers rise to glory (yes, we are still waiting for that to truly happen). But when Chris Paul became available, the Clips happily shipped Gordon off to the Hornets, who re-signed him after his rookie deal was done. He promptly left down and signed with Houston where he (a) won the Sixth Man of the Year last season and (2) was rewarded with his own bobblehead this year. Oh, he's also playing with Paul this year too. But more on that later.
27 Alvin Attles (Golden State Warriors)
One of the things I love about writing this post every year is researching some of the great players who I'm not that familiar with and extolling their virtues for a paragraph or two. Of course, the NBA teams have to cooperate and hand me a bobblehead of a past legend. The Warriors have done that this year by giving away a bobblehead Al Attles in late October.

Attles spent 23 years with the Warriors organization. He spent 11 seasons as a player with the Philadelphia Warriors and San Francisco Warriors, including the last season and a half as player-coach (back when they did that sort of thing; can you imagine that today??). When he was done playing, he spent an additional 12 seasons as head coach, leading the Warriors to their first NBA Championship in 1975. His number 16 was retired by the Warriors. According to his Wikipedia page, he still attends every Warriors game.

10 Connie Hawkins (Phoenix Suns)
The Suns began play in Phoenix in 1968, which means the 2017-2018 NBA season is their 50th in the league. So the Suns are having a party, bobblehead style. They are rolling out five separate bobbleheads throughout the season representing their five decades of existence. Connie Hawkins is first, representing the two sixties seasons and the 1970s. The Hawk had one of the more storied journeys as a player. He was (falsely) implicated in a point shaving scandal when in college at Iowa, after which he was subsequently banned from any further collegiate participation and the NBA followed suit.

From college, he played one year in the American Basketball League (MVP by the way) before spending three years with the Harlem Globetrotters and then landing a gig in the American Basketball Association with the Pittsburgh Pipers, whom he led to the 1968 ABA title (MVP and playoff MVP by the way). He finally got his shot at the NBA in 1969 with the Suns but was way past his prime at that point. Nonetheless, his 42 hangs from the rafters in Phoenix and his name's in the books at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.

The Suns' choice of bobbleheads for each decade seems to be open to fan vote. I guess Hawkins won the popularity contest the Suns ran this summer for the 1960s and 70s. I'd be way more proud to have his bobblehead on my shelf at home than Jerry Colangelo. Just saying.

It would have been great to have had Connie Hawkins around for this giveaway. Unfortunately, he passed away earlier this month. RIP, Hawk.

13 Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
How many freaking Steph Curry bobbleheads do the Dubs think they need to give away? In the prior three years they've given away four (yes, they gave away two in one season). And now they need to give away another one? I guess he is pretty good and if I were a Warriors fan, I wouldn't sneeze at a fifth Curry bobble in four years. Heck, that's more bobbles than the Wizards give away in a four year period for all our players combined!!!

25 Dwight Howard (Charlotte Hornets)
The Hornets are going all in on bobbleheads this year and rolling out four of these things, starting with Dwight Howard (still can't get my head wrapped around Howard in Charlotte) the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The photo of Dwight's head on the Hornets' website has a huge smile on his face. And why not? By the time Thanksgiving has rolled around he probably hasn't had enough time to get into some truly passive aggressive behavior with his teammates by that point.
27 Chris Paul (Houston Rockets) / David West (Golden State Warriors)
Chris Paul didn't want to play in New Orleans anymore so he forced his way to a trade to the Clippers, where he spent six pretty good but ultimately Conference Finals-less years. So now he's forced his way to a trade to the Rockets, where he'll be immortalized in bobblehead form, at least for this year, until he's an unrestricted free agent again. Of course, Paul could ultimately choose to re-sign with Houston since he's obviously ring chasing and the Rockets appear to have about as good a chance as anyone of knocking off the Warriors, which means they really have a pretty slim chance.

Speaking of guys who didn't want to play in New Orleans ring chasing...November 27 is also David West bobblehead day in Oakland. West left the Hornets (now re-named the Pelicans of course) the exact same year that Paul did but as a free agent headed for the Indiana Pacers, where he worked his way to a number one seed with the Pacers before crashing in the playoffs when they ran into the Miami Heat. Convinced it wasn't going to happen in the heartland, West took a huge pay cut to spend a title-less year in San Antonio before landing in Golden State where he finally got a ring. Now he has a bobblehead too. Congrats! I'm sure Chris Paul is jealous.

4 Dirk Nowitzki #1 (Dallas Mavericks)
Last year the Dallas Mavericks handed out 12 bobbleheads at the doors of the American Airlines Center. Pretty much if you made the team, you got a bobblehead of yourself. I've never seen such a commitment to a team's fans. Bobblehead-wise, that is. This year, the Mavs are handing out an additional 10!!! And they are all of Dirk Nowitzki. That's right, Dallas hoops fans can pick up 10 different Nowitzki bobbles to celebrate Dirk's 20th season with the team.

I assume five of the bobbles are going to resemble the five in the top banner of this post: MVP Dirk, home whites young Dirk, roadie current Dirk, green alternate jersey Dirk and NBA Champion Dirk. I think it's amazing the Mavs have shown this much commitment to Dirk and vice versa over the years while also acknowledging that the team is likely to go nowhere really until he hangs up his sneakers and moves on, likely with the very same organization. For me personally, I'm just jealous of Mavs fans here. 22 bobbleheads in the last two seasons. That's like 10 or 12 Wizards seasons and that's with the G Wiz Kids Club bobbleheads that we effectively have to pay for.

8 DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans Pelicans)
Two years ago the Sacramento Kings handed out a DeMarcus Cousins bobblehead, the only then-current player in a six pack of bobbleheads handed out by the team to celebrate the accomplishments of their past heroes and I guess anoint the future. Until last year, when they traded him away to the Pels. Now New Orleans is giving out a DMC bobble. He'll be around in December for sure but we'll see about the end of the year.

9 Tom Chambers (Phoenix Suns) / Frank Kaminsky (Charlotte Hornets)
Quick: name the player with the highest point total who will likely never be in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. If you said Tom Chambers, you'd be correct. Chambers ranks 40th all time on the NBA's all time scoring list. Of the 39 ahead of him, 29 are in the Hall already. The other 10? Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Vince Carter, Ray Allen, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade.

Chambers played just five of his 16 NBA seasons in Phoenix but three of his four All-Star appearances and both of his All-NBA team nods were made wearing a Suns jersey. Chambers' number 24 was also retired by the Suns. Now he gets a bobblehead, winning the fan vote for the 1980s.

And then there's Charlotte's Frank Kaminsky, apparently dressed in a Star Wars stormtrooper costume. All I have to say here is:

Princess Leia: "Aren't you a little TALL for a stormtrooper?"
Kaminsky: "Huh? Oh the uniform. I'm Frank Kaminsky. I'm here to rescue you."
Princess Leia: "You're who? Frank Kaminsky? Nobody named Frank Kaminsky is rescuing me!"

Sorry, Frank.

11 James Harden Jedi (Houston Rockets) / Milos Teosodic  Jedi Knight (Los Angeles Clippers)
So take a wild guess when the next Star Wars movie is being released? If you guessed December 11 you'd be almost right. It's December 17. I guess that's why bobblehead Frank Kaminsky is being dressed up a bit early as a stormtrooper this month and James Harden and Milos Teosodic (yes, I know he's a rookie but he appears to be the guy the Clips are pinning their post-Chris Paul era on at point guard) are dressed up as jedi for their December 11 bobblehead giveaways. If you can manage to be in Charlotte on December 9 and then Houston and L.A. two days later, you can add these three bobbles to your Brook Lopez Nets jedi and Chewbacca giveaways from the previous two years. Can't make it to all three spots plus Brooklyn the last two years? Well, there's always eBay. Or a time machine.
20 Dirk Nowitzki #2 (Dallas Mavericks) / Zaza Pachulia (Golden State Warriors)
The second of ten. Which Dirk Nowitzki bobblehead is this? No idea and hey, who cares? It's a bobblehead and it's free!!

Yes, there's also a Zaza Pachulia bobblehead this year. This is freaking awesome. I'd love it if I were a Warriors fan. I just don't have a whole lot more to say on this one. Lock in, Dub Nation!

27 Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets)
Can you believe Kemba Walker made it to the All-Star Game last year? Me either, despite the good year. I think the coaches were swayed by the unexpectedly strong start for the Hornets. I guess Kemba's hard work and performance paid off. This season he becomes the third Charlotte Hornet to be honored in bobblehead form.

5 Dirk Nowitzki #3 (Dallas Mavericks)
First bobblehead of the new year is...Dirk Nowitzki. And why not, I mean he has the best odds of anyone this year, right?

8 DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers) / Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
The Clippers this year are handing out four bobbleheads. Apparently three of the four are pretty standard bobbleheads as evidenced by the silhouettes above, although I find that difficult to believe unless Milos Teosodic's jedi knight bobblehead comes sans light saber (seems unlikely). The one with a different silhouette? DeAndre Jordan's. Apparently he's posterizing some opponent. I'm hoping they don't make the opponent an actual player and if they do, I hope it's not a Wizard.

The same day DJ gets a bobble for the second straight year in L.A., the Warriors hand out bobblehead number six on the year with a miniature version of Klay Thompson, presumably with a couple of Larry O'Brien trophies at his feet like Draymond Green has. Warriors fans can place this bobblehead proudly next to their 2016 and 2015 Klay bobbles.
12 TBD (Phoenix Suns)
January 12 in Phoenix is a celebration of the 1990s and once again, the choice of bobblehead this night was determined by fan vote. I'm thinking it's got to be Charles Barkley here, right? I know, Cedric Ceballos would be an awesome choice but it's gotta be Chuck I'm thinking. Suns fans will find out soon I hope.

13 Dwyane Wade Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls)
When the Bulls first released their promotional schedule in September, it featured two bobbleheads: Benny the Bull (I'd be soooo looking forward to that one if I were a Bulls fan) and Dwyane Wade. By the end of September, Wade was gone, agreeing to part with a reported $8 million of his guaranteed money so he wouldn't have to play for the totally-deconstructed-no-chance-at-winning-much-at-all Bulls. So much for that giveaway.

In Wade's place...Zach LaVine, the Youtube sensation and 2015 Slam Dunk Contest winner who the Bulls got in return (plus others) for Jimmy Butler this past summer. Two years ago, Zach's fans got a LaVine bobblehead in Minnesota. Now they got one in Chicago. Thank Dwyane Wade for that one, folks.  

22 Clint Capela (Houston Rockets) / Danilo Gallinari (Los Angeles Clippers) / Dirk Nowitzki #4 (Dallas Mavericks)
Clint Capela is likely the guy who convinced the Rockets with his play that the team would be OK passing on any further involvement with Dwight Howard and just stick with the then second year player as their big man in the middle. Other players on the Rockets like James Harden likely helped the club with some advice here. Houston fans get a fan favorite here on January 22.

Over in Los Angeles, the Clippers are handing out bobblehead #4 on the year. It's been a bit rough for this team this offseason. They saw Paul Pierce retire, removed Doc Rivers from the General Manager position, let J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford sign with other teams and then had Chris Paul engineer his own trade out of town. So to make up for all that, they went out and got Denver's Danilo Gallinari. Yeah. So of course they had to make a bobblehead for him, right? Makes sense to me.

Yes, it's another Dirk Nowitzki bobblehead, rounding out the busiest bobble day in the NBA this year.

29 Dirk Nowitzki #5 (Dallas Mavericks)
Well, it's been a week since the Mavs have handed out a Dirk Nowitzki bobblehead so why not. Five down, five to go.

25 Bango (Milwaukee Bucks)
I know the February 25 giveaway in Milwaukee is a toothbrush holder but I also believe this is a bobblehead. While it doesn't exactly say that on the Bucks' website (the bobblehead part; they clearly say toothbrush holder), the cartoonish picture of the giveaway looks on their promo schedule an awful lot like a bobblehead (see above). The Bucks also had a Miles Plumlee toothbrush holder/bobblehead handout on their slate last year which they had to abort when they traded Plumlee away. If you are a collector of mascot bobbleheads (there has to be someone who is) you have to be pumped about the variety this year (see March below). The only downside with this one is you have to be a kid 14 and under to get one of these beauties. If you are traveling to the game, make sure you bring a kid then wrestle this one from their weak hands. Kidding. Don't do that. Please.

26 Dirk Nowitzki #6 (Dallas Mavericks)
February is not only the shortest month of the year, it's also the month with the All-Star break so there's really only like three weeks of hoops in the month. This year, of course, there's time for another Dirk Nowitzki bobblehead though. Not sure why the Mavs skipped October and November but I'm sure Mavs fans are glad to have this one in February.
1 TBD (Cleveland Cavaliers)
One man's trash is another man's treasure?

When I first saw the Cavaliers' promotional schedule released and saw two bobbleheads and both were TBDs I thought you gotta be kidding me. I mean these two have to be offseason acquisitions Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, right? Why bother even dragging it out or casting uncertainty on what has to be a certain thing.

And then Dwyane Wade got bought out by Chicago and joined the Cavs. So now it has to be Wade and Thomas in these two spots, right? Right? Maybe?
2 TBD (Phoenix Suns)
The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Phoenix Suns continues on March 2 with a bobblehead celebrating the aughts. Just like I did above I'm going to have to guess here because the Suns haven't announced the winner of the fan vote on this one. I'm spitballing here but I'm thinking Steve Nash. He did, after all, win two MVP trophies in his time in Phoenix. Not that I'm a great predictor of elections but I'm all in on Nash here.

4 Dirk Nowitzki #7 (Dallas Mavericks)
Getting the Dirk bobblehead withdrawal shakes, Mavericks fans? Don't worry, here's number seven. At this point, I'm thinking folks in Dallas are losing interest as the team falls behind the pack. The good news? Three more Nowitzki bobbleheads after this one.

6 Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)
The Clippers wrap up their four pack of bobbleheads with (almost) last man standing Blake Griffin. I'm still waiting for someone to make a Blake Griffin bobblehead with built in flopping feature, although I'm guessing that won't be the Clippers this year. Enjoy, Clips fans. You get three more bobbles than I do as a Wizards fan this year.

10 Dirk Nowitzki #8 (Dallas Mavericks)
Two Dirk Nowizki bobbleheads in a single week? Hey it was bound to happen sometime. I mean there are only 41 home games, after all.
19 TBD (Cleveland Cavaliers)
When I first saw the Cavaliers' promotional schedule released and saw two bobbleheads and both were TBDs I thought you gotta be kidding me. Oh wait...I already wrote this one. See March 1.

21 Benny the Bull (Chicago Bulls)
If December is Stars Wars bobblehead month in the NBA, March is mascot bobblehead month. And the two that are being given away this month are good ones. Benny placed fourth in my most recent mascot rank post. I'd be super psyched if I were a Bulls fan on March 21, so much so that I'd be able to look over the fact that one of the only reasons there's even a Benny bobble is that nobody on the team is good enough to get one. This night should provide a boost for beleaguered Bulls fans. By this point in the season, they'll likely need some encouragement and/or a reason to show up to a home game.

22 Dirk Nowitzki #9 (Dallas Mavericks)
The Mavs should have an over/under bet of how many fans have all nine Dirk Nowitzki bobbleheads by this point in the year. Not sure how they'd quite measure that. You can bet I'd be on the list if I was a Mavs fan. Forgot to mention this earlier but there are only 5,000 per game. Get there early. 10 times.
26 Hugo the Hornet (Charlotte Hornets)
If Bulls fans should be excited about seeing Benny the Bull for free at the doors of United Center, Hornets fans should be equally excited, if not more so, to see a smiling Hornets staffer handing them a Hugo bobblehead five days after Benny gets handed out in Chicago. The only downside here for Charlotte fans (if you really say any day when you get a free bobblehead has downside) is that there was a Hugo bobble handed out just three seasons ago. Is Charlotte really that lacking in players who get bobbleheads? Don't think too hard on that one.

30 Dirk Nowitzki #10 (Dallas Mavericks)
Finally, I can stop writing about Dirk Nowitzki bobbleheads. Congratulations to whomever has all 10. I'm totally jealous. To this point in the season, by the way, the Wizards have handed out zero bobbleheads. It's appropriate then that...

31 Otto Porter (Washington Wizards)
Hey! It's a Wizards bobblehead. Finally!!!

Not wholly surprised by this one (since Otto signed his max deal this past summer). After all the Wizards have never given away (important words there) a bobblehead of the third max deal player on the current roster (joining John Wall and Bradley Beal). As a Wizards fan who already owns an Otto Porter bobblehead (obtained through the G Wiz Kids Club two seasons ago), I was just hoping for someone different. I'll take it and like it for sure. There's only one a year at most in D.C. No complaining any more for this post here.
6 TBD (Phoenix Suns)
The Suns wrap up their bobblehead-fest on April 6 with a player from the current team. I don't believe the voting for this one has even started but I can't imagine it's anyone other than Devin Booker. I'd vote for Brandon Knight if I were a Suns fan. Heck, I might even vote for him even though I'm not a Suns fan. By this time in the season, a plastic likeness of Booker with a massive head is likely the only thing Suns fans will have to look forward to.

11 Rajon Rondo (New Orleans Pelicans)
Six or seven years ago, Rondo looked like a future hall of famer. NBA Champion, four-time All-Star, an All-NBA Third Team nod. The last three years? Traded by the Celtics to the Mavericks. Signed by Sacramento. Signed by Chicago. Now he's in New Orleans. But he's good enough to get a bobblehead, something he probably never got in Boston. Rondo's middle name is Pierre by the way. Coincidence? Fate?
So that's it for now. 16 of the 30 NBA teams have released their promotional schedules to this point. I realize that's only just a bit more than half but I wanted to get this out before any regular season bobbleheads are given away. Made it by 3 days! Who knows, maybe there's room for an update later on this year. If nothing else, there are four TBDs in this post in Cleveland and Phoenix and the Rockets promotional schedule either is only released through January or they are giving no loot away after that point.

For the rest of the teams not represented above, no bobbleheads this year in Philadelphia, Memphis, Portland or Los Angeles. Well, the Lakers portion of Los Angeles anyway. The Grizzlies do have a Marc Gasol Billion Dollar Strut Figure they'll be handing out on January 26. Not sure what that is but if I was a Grizz fan I'd make sure I was one of the first 5,000 in the door that night.

The 14 teams missing so far? Boston, Brooklyn New York, Toronto, Detroit, Indiana, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, San Antonio, Denver, Minnesota, Oklahoma City and Sacramento. If any of those clubs have promotional schedules to release this year, I'll have to pick it up in an update. In the meantime, bobblehead collectors, go forth and collect. I'll get mine on March 31.

October 18, 2017

Banner Night

At first, I didn't think they'd do it. In today's win all or win nothing NBA environment, I thought there was a good chance the Washington Wizards would skip the ceremonial raising of a Division Championship banner. I mean how silly is it to watch a piece of cloth pulled up from the hardwood court to sit among similar banners hanging in the rafters of Capital One Arena when all you have done is finished first in a five team division? Come on, it's five teams. You should be winning once every five years on average.

But the Wizards don't win the division once every five years. In fact, as I've ranted and raved about many many times in this blog, they haven't won one since 1979. That's 38 years ago. And they've never won one as the Wizards or in the District. Last time they hoisted one of these things, it was in the 1970s, a year removed from an NBA Championship and they were called the Bullets and played in Maryland. As if all my fears about the Wizards skipping this thing that I'd waited through 17 years of being a season ticket holder for weren't enough, I attended the Washington Capitals season opener earlier this month. They won a division last season. No banner raising.

Then on Monday we got an email from the team. Get to the arena early on opening night for the "special pregame programming" that was supposed to last all of 15 minutes starting at 6:30. This had to be it, right? Right.

Wrong. My original instinct was right. The promised "special pregame programming" was a ruse. It never happened. I was in my seat at 6:30 on the dot, ready for what I was sure would be a cathartic banner raising after 17 years of being a Wizards season ticket holder. I got bubkus. Nothing. Nada. The banner was already in place when we got to Capital One Arena tonight. And to make matters worse, it was just a tack on to a new compendium of franchise division championships banner. Sure the 2016-2017 Washington Wizards are there at the very bottom but I really wanted one of my own. I'm disappointed and disheartened. I get that it's JUST a division championship but come on...it's been almost four decades. 

It's almost difficult for me to say that I'm so proud of this team for finishing first in the Southeast Division last year. Difficult because it sounds so silly to be celebrating something that a lot of franchises (including the Wizards apparently) don't even bother celebrating any more because just winning a division means nothing compared to what that team's expectations have become every year. But I'm not a fan of those other teams and I don't have that expectation. Yet. I hope one day I will. Until then, I'm going to revel in knowing there's finally a banner hanging in the rafters for a team that I watched, one called the Washington Wizards, even if the team paid it no mind whatsoever. 

Congratulations to all those fans who have suffered years and years for this moment, even if we really didn't get our moment. I'm right there with you. Let's see one of these a lot more often in the next decade please, starting with this season right in front of us.

At least, I guess, I finally get to see the Capital Bullets banner I've been after the team to raise for years. Wizards are 1-0. This was a missed opportunity for me. Huge mis-step by the team.

October 6, 2017

Free Stuff! 2017-2018 Edition

Welcome to my annual preview of the Washington Wizards promotional schedule for the upcoming season. If you've read past posts from me on this subject, you'll know that the Wizards have been decreasing the number of giveaway nights to about the bare minimum you can get it down to while still calling what you've ended up with any kind of schedule.

This year (and you'll get the sarcasm in just a bit), the team has actually upped it's number of freebee nights from three last year to a whole four this year. Yep, that's right folks, there's something free at the door almost every 10 home games. Considering the history, it's about what I expect here. And I'm not going to complain too much because there's actually a bobblehead being handed out this year.

Just one more note before we get to this year's list. The schedule hasn't been released on the Wizards website, nor have I been able to secure one of the little paper foldout schedules I usually use to write this post. I am therefore relying on media posts of the events scheduled for this year (the media quite obviously based on Twitter activity received the full schedule this past Wednesday). If I'm wrong or if the title of some of the promotions requires a little tweaking or updating, I'll do that when the official information is received by yours truly.

With that said, here's the list, once again with my exclusive rating of each giveaway item in parentheses. Enjoy and show up on the dates of your choosing below.

Schedule Magnet (Essential)
October 18 vs. Philadelphia
The first game of the year is always schedule magnet day. Can't wait for this one so I can proudly display this annual and totally essential guide for keeping up to date on the schedule every time I head to the refrigerator to get a yogurt or glass of water (would have been beer but I've given that up at home these days). Last year's schedule came with a series of mini magnetic uniforms. Can't imagine that would happen this year since Nike will want to unveil the fourth uniform for the team (officially called the City Edition) at a later date but a guy can always hope.

Wall With The Shades (Depends on if you wear prescription glasses)
December 15 vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Apparently this giveaway is a pair of John Wall sunglasses, although they could have made that clearer in the description. My enthusiasm for this giveaway is pretty low because I need the prescription version of the John Wall sunglasses and I'm assuming they are not going to available with lenses strong enough to correct my pretty extreme astigmatism. Having said that, I'm hoping these sunglasses are a little better quality than sunglasses handed out by the Wiz in prior years.

I am curious to see what these look like. Are they going to be replicas of some sunglasses worn by John Wall? Unlikely by the way. Are they going to come with a John Wall mask? While cool this is also unlikely. Or are they going to be plastic glasses with John's uni number on them somewhere? I'm guessing the last one is closest to the mark. I'll pick these up on December 15 just so I know but won't use them unless I just don't want to see.

Otto Porter Jr. Bobblehead (Essential)
March 31 vs. Charlotte
So I'm not really complaining about a bobblehead giveaway here but I sort of am. Over the last two years, the Wizards have given away / sold via the G Wiz Kids Club / made available via the now defunct Monumental Rewards program a total of five bobbleheads: Otto Porter, John Wall, Coach Scott Brooks, Bradley Beal (in civvies) and Kelly Oubre, Jr. Who's missing from this bunch who's deserving of a bobblehead giveaway this year? How about starters Marcin Gortat or Markieff Morris? Morris has been with the team a little more than a season now but Gortat's been here four years without a bobble.

Instead, the Wiz opted to go with a second Otto Porter bobblehead, which I guess is solid considering he's the highest paid player on the team this year. I just think this is a missed opportunity. If nothing else, die hard Wizards fans like me were in desperate need of a fifth player bobblehead so we could get a team of five assembled from the current roster. I guess I can always go with a couple of John Walls or Bradley Beals or now Otto Porters. Totally would have loved a Gortat bobblehead. There's always the Kids Club maybe?

Team Poster (PASS!)
April 10 vs. Boston
For the last couple of years, we've been able to count on three things out of the Wizards promotional schedule: (1) a schedule magnet, (2) a single bobblehead and (3) a team poster. Actually the Wizards have used that formula every year I've been writing a post like this except one when they substituted a Marcin Gortat action figure for the single bobblehead (action figures are NOT the same as bobbleheads) three years ago. So of course, this year there's another team poster. And as well as these are printed, it's just not a keepsake for an adult, not even an adult like me who has more than 30 Wizards bobbleheads sitting on display at home. For the kids, I guess it's cool if you can get it home without it being creased or crushed in some way. Bring a poster tube to the game maybe?

Treasure these giveaway dates, folks. They are so rare these days. Season opener up next for me, although I get that preseason isn't quite over yet. October 18. Can't wait!!!

October 4, 2017

Goodbye, Monumental Rewards

So I had this great idea for a post where I was going to talk about some of the suggestions or rants I've offered up on this blog over the years and connect those old posts to new programs, new benefits for season ticket holders or improvements at Verizon Center / Capital One Arena which have been implemented over the years by the Wizards. I figured I've spent enough time complaining, imploring and begging over the last five or so years that it might be time to give credit where credit is due.

Don't believe me? Let's give it a shot. I've asked for more bobbleheads here, here and here. We got more bobbleheads via the G Wiz Kids Club (I know it costs $20...) and last year via the Monumental Rewards program. I've asked for better food options, including a specific suggestion that season ticket holder Jose Andres open a spot. Last year, we got an Andres food stand. I've asked for access to the Etihad Lounge (admittedly, I asked for this because it got taken away) and we got it (back) via the Fluid Tickets Program. I even asked for a different approach on season tickets to increase the number of Wizards fans in the building after which the team rolled out a digital only, low cost, full season plan with non-fixed seat locations which could not be re-sold.

OK, so I get they are not necessarily doing these things based on personal requests from me, but my voice is potentially part of a larger discussion and things are changing. Or have changed.

But enough about how much the team is listening to fan input on new benefits because this post isn't about that. It was going to be until I found out the team has killed the Monumental Rewards program, the rewards site which allowed Wizards, Capitals and Mystics fans to redeem points accumulated through a variety of team-engagement activities for exclusive experiences and swag.

For some fans, the loss of this program will have little impact. Over its four year history, I used the program for cheap access to the VIP lounge area a ton of times then once a month access to the VIP lounge area then access to a suite once per year with some free food then for a couple of Mystics games and an exclusive bobblehead. If those perks in the previous sentence seem to get less exciting as the sentence goes on, that's by design because the program actually did get less exciting over its four year history. Well, with the exception of the exclusive bobblehead availability. I saw that last one as the solution to my bobblehead envy of other teams' fans who get multiple bobbleheads every year for free with a game ticket.

For other fans, and count me with my 97,107 lost reward points among this number, this is a failed initiative that just lacked some imagination behind it to succeed. The program was rolled out four years ago with a good amount of fanfare and for a while it was super valuable and a great perk. Heck, even if there were a little swag, maybe a suite game to bid on and a collectible bobblehead each year I would love this program. I suppose with the team's prospects on the upswing, the need to continue to provide benefits like this to fans goes down. I've said it before and I'll say it again: there are times where teams need to value their season ticket holders a little more than doing the bare minimum will allow them to do.

Looks like Scott Brooks will be the only exclusive Wiz bobblehead released under Monumental Rewards.
I kind of saw this coming. The Monumental Rewards site has been down for a few weeks now, just displaying the message at the top of this post when you sign on to the site, which is still active as of this writing. I also never got my new points as a result of this season's ticket purchase that I made this past February or March which made me a little suspicious. But I did use the program as recently as August to attend a Mystics game in a suite. Those missed opportunities will be felt in the future.

So what replaces this? Anything? Is this just another lost benefit that the team decided to kill because it was too much of a pain to keep going? Is the team now too popular to have it waste efforts like this to make season ticket holders who have suffered through plenty of non-playoff seasons (including two 19 win years and NOT during a lockout shortened season) a little happier?

I should mention that I have not received any notification from the team that this benefit is dead. I'm sort of putting two and two together here. But I believe I'm right. I don't believe we'll see the team auctioning off suite access or creating any season ticket holder exclusive bobbleheads any more. And that sucks. I hate writing blog posts like this. I believe NBA teams should value long term season ticket holders more than cancelling benefits without communications to the people that have stuck by the organization for a long time. Moments like this make me realize that interactions with season ticket holders is a business too. I'll get over it. Regular season starts in less than two weeks. That will take my focus off this sort of stuff for a while.