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.


September
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.


October
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.


November
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).


December
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.


January
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.


February
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.


March
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.


April
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.

October 13, 2018

Preseason


The Washington Wizards wrapped up their five game preseason slate last night by pounding the Guangzhou Long-Lions 140-111. Devin Robinson led the Wizards onslaught with 23 points and a number of spectacular dunks. Austin Rivers was the high man with five assists and Troy Brown picked up more boards than any other Wizard with eight. There will never be a box score like this in the regular season. Ignoring the fact that I don't know exactly what a Long-Lion is, nobody really cared about this game. 

Other than promoting general international basketball goodwill, last night's game was pointless. Most Wizards season ticket holders didn't care about the contest and didn't go and the Wizards coaching staff didn't care because John Wall and Bradley Beal didn't play at all. Yet I was charged by the Washington Wizards $136 for last night's game. I was also charged the same amount for the other two preseason home games against the Miami Heat and New York Knicks. This has to stop.

Eight preseason games used to be standard for every NBA team. This year the Wizards played five, three at home and two away, just like they did last year. Since I became a Wizards season ticket holder in 2000, I think three is the maximum number of preseason home games the team has ever had. We used to get two or maybe some years even one as the team tried to fill other local arenas in lieu of their home building downtown. It spread the excitement of the NBA to other cities while sparing season ticket holders the burden of paying half price for some meaningless games. Now for some reason, we are made to pay for three.

Apparently NBA teams are free to set their own preseason schedules, unless they are selected for an international tour like the 76ers and Mavericks just finished in China or like the 2008 Wizards did in Berlin and Barcelona 10 years ago. If teams are truly free to schedule as many preseason games as they want at home, why are the Wizards scheduling three? It just unnecessarily drives up the cost of season ticket plans. I get that $136 per game is not a lot, but some ticket holders paid five figures per seat for these meaningless games. Also if $136 is not a lot to me, it's certainly not a lot to the Wizards, who have way more money than I do.

Packed house for the Wizards-Knicks preseason game last week.
I attended one of our three preseason games this year, the first one against the Knicks. I cared so much that I left at halftime. All things considered, I got kind of lucky. All five starters (except for Dwight Howard with his mysterious butt injury) played significant minutes and the Budweiser Brewhouse was open for discounted beer although none of the regular bartenders showed up (hey, it's preseason, right?).

I actually got lucky in other ways this preseason. I actually sold all my other tickets that I didn't use, albeit all of them at a loss. Yes, someone actually paid me for my lower level tickets to see the Wizards and the Long-Lions last night. I can imagine they might have wanted to see John Wall and Bradley Beal up close and playing. They didn't get that privilege. I'm not arguing with the decision to sit Wall and Beal but I am objecting to the Wizards charging me for a game I didn't attend and someone who bought my ticket for a game that the team really didn't take seriously by resting players.

But I imagine the excitement felt by the two folks who bought my lower level seats for just twenty bucks (to me) plus fees (which go to Monumental Sports since they also own Ticketmaster locally) was nothing compared to the folks who shelled out some money last preseason to see the Wizards take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. I actually got more money than I paid out of that sale. What the people who bought my seats got was tickets to a game with no LeBron, no Dwayne Wade, no Derrick Rose, no Tristan Thompson, no Iman Shumpert, no J.R. Smith and no Jae Crowder playing for the Cavs because they all sat out. Healthy but not playing (because there was no point to the game). There is no way I would have sold those tickets if the "injury report" was made available ahead of time. No way.

In recent years, the NBA had tried its best to make sure that fans don't get cheated out of their money by watching games where teams rest players. This is a star-driven league and most fans pay to watch players not teams. When healthy players sit, fans get cheated when they pay for games. The league has extended the schedule to allow more rest and has also fined teams in the regular season for taking games off. They need to start doing that with the preseason or just not charging people for tickets. They can start with the season ticket holders and they can make the tickets non-transferable electronic tickets so they can't be re-sold. Somehow, this has to stop.

October 10, 2018

Wes, The Big E, John & Nobody Else


Last year I wrote a blog post about how our current Wizards stand on the franchise leaders list. A few years ago, this wouldn't have even been possible (or it would have been a very short post). The franchise culture in Washington was just a revolving door ever since the Wiz shipped out Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and some others towards the end of the 2009-2010 season. Heck, even the three other players besides John Wall brought to Washington out of the 2010 NBA Draft (Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker and Jordan Crawford) are way way way long gone. There was a period there of incredible instability, which brought with it much losing and absolutely zero resale value for season ticket holders.

Eight years into the John Wall era, we are in a totally different spot. Maybe it's time to do this sort of a check before every season from now on. Or at least until John Wall leaves town, which seems like it's a good way off and which I want in absolutely no scenario whatsoever. I'll go with the same seven categories I discussed in last year's post. Here goes.

Games Played
Franchise Leader: Wes Unseld (984)
Current Wizards in Top 10: John Wall (10th; 541)
It's going to take a long time for John Wall to pass Wes Unseld for the number one spot on the franchise list here, if he ever even gets there. Right now, he's 443 games behind, which is more than five full seasons which is when John's current contract (OK, so technically the extension to his current contract) expires. But he should be able to make some noise this year. If John plays a full 82 this year, he'll end up on third place, 28 games ahead of Charles Jones. Barring injury, John should get there easily. He'll also pass Brendan Haywood this year for most games played as a Washington Wizard (not Bullet). Pretty fitting I think. Wondering about Beal? Give it two more years. He's down at 406 right now.


Minutes Played
Franchise Leader: Wes Unseld (35,832)
Current Wizards in the Top 10: John Wall (4th; 19,441)
Yes, John Wall is 10th on the all time franchise games played list but already 4th on the minutes played list. That means he's playing a lot more than the guys in the four through nine spots on the games played list. Two seasons ago, John logged about 2,800 minutes over 78 games. He'll need four more of those kind of seasons to get past Elvin Hayes into second place. But he will surely pass Gus Johnson for third place this year since he needs fewer than 300 minutes to pass the Honeycomb. Beal fan? Brad might crack the top 10 this year. If he spends as much time on the court as he did last year, he'll bump Antawn Jamison down to the 11 spot.

Points
Franchise Leader: Elvin Hayes (15,551)
Current Wizards in the Top 10: John Wall (4th; 10,216)
Two years ago, John Wall passed Wes Unseld on the Wizards/Bullets/Zephyrs/Packers all-time steals list. This year, he's going to pass Wes on the points list. John needs just 868 to move past Jeff Malone into the number two position on this list. Along the way, he'll move past Wes too. John's high for a season in total points is 1,805. Elvin Hayes is going to be safe for a while but maybe not more than three years. Brad is likely to join John on the top 10 list this year; a good season will see him sitting right behind Phil Chenier in eighth after passing both Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison.

Rebounds
Franchise Leader: Wes Unseld (13,769)
Current Wizards in the Top 10: Nobody
And nobody's making it this year. Nobody.

Assists
Franchise Leader: John Wall (5,003)
Current Wizards in the Top 10: Just John
John Wall has just a tad more than 5,000 assists. That's almost 1,200 more than anyone else in the history of the franchise. And for a while at least, that gap's only getting bigger. It's going to be a while before anyone catches John Wall on this list. If I write a similar post next year, we might see Bradley Beal on this list. If he matches last year's total he'll end up eighth at the end of this season.


Blocks
Franchise Leader: Elvin Hayes (1,558)
Current Wizards in Top 10: Nobody
This mark is going to stay in the Big E's name for a while. John Wall has the highest current total of any active player and he's got 367. He needs 40 to crack the top 10 over Etan Thomas. Last year he tallied 45 in just 41 games. I'm pencilling John into the 10 position sometime soon. He might even catch Gheorghe Muresan (443) and Marcin Gortat (449). Unlikely he's catching JaVale McGee at 470.

Steals
Franchise Leader: John Wall (927)
Current Wizards in the Top 10: Just John
There's a pretty good chance John Wall is going to end up first or second in pretty much every category on the all-time franchise leaders board. He's likely to widen this lead this year. Last year, Brad caught him a bit since John missed a bunch of games. If Beal matches his 2017-2018 output, he'll sit at eighth between Rod Strickland and Caron Butler.

That's how things stack up in the major categories. Two years ago, John Wall moved into the franchise leader spot for both assists and steals. It's going to be a while before we see that sort of thing again. For this season, the leaders in these categories all seem competition-free. Six days to tip off. Can't wait.

September 27, 2018

Cap One Arena Facelift


Last night the Washington Wizards hosted an open house for season and non-season ticket holders to get a look at what they've done with the Capital One Arena over the summer. Before the end of last season, Monumental Sports and Entertainment was making a good amount of noise about this renovation that's been about 20 years in the making. Seriously, some design decisions about the then-MCI Center should have been corrected immediately.

It's always interesting to come back down to Penn Quarter after a summer off to see what's changed (the answer seems to be not much this year) so I wasn't going to miss this chance to dip my toe back in the Wizards pool after a few months off. And for me, it really was a few months off. So even though the first preseason game is just next Monday, I couldn't miss this opportunity to get down to 601 F Street NW and check the (new) place out. Plus they said they'd have free food and I'm never one to turn down free stadium food.


They don't look it in this pic but trust me these seats are black.
New Seats
The purple seats are gone!!!! I have no idea why they put purple seats in MCI Center to begin with (maybe because it was an MCI color?) but it never should have happened. The color isn't (and never was) in the Bullets, Wizards or Capitals color scheme so unless it was corporately driven from MCI, I just don't get it.

The new seats are black (which is fine I guess) and each one in the lower bowl features the Capital One logo. Guess who paid for the arena makeover, by the way? After sitting down in one I have to say they are no more comfortable than the old seats; in fact they might be less comfortable at this point because they haven't been broken in (if you long for the old seats Monumental was selling them off at the beginning of the summer; of course, you can't bring them to the game with you). We'll reserve full judgment once I (and other folks) have had a chance to rough them up a little.

I do have a small question about the logos, though. This is an awfully big gamble by Monumental, isn't it? I get that it's never easy to turn money down but Cap One's naming rights deal as I understand it is only for 10 years and we are already a year in. If we consider the first batch of seats took more than 20 years to replace, what happens if Capital One doesn't extend their naming rights deal? Do we have Etihad Arena with Capital One seats? Or do we get new seats?

Or maybe the deal has already been extended. Monumental has a habit of secretly extending deals (cough! Ernie Grunfeld! cough!).



New Signage
The purple signs are gone!!!! When I wrote above the certain design decisions that should have been reversed a long time ago, those God awful purple seat-matching signs with the garish colored (and fonted) numbers were what I meant. Thank goodness those things are gone.

But they aren't just gone, their replacements are actually pretty cool. The color scheme is simple black and white (I guess we are going all in on no colors, although I guess black and white are actually colors) which is fine but the cool part is each sign features a muted photograph of some event that occurred in the history of the building. Or something like that.

Some of these are cool, like Dale Hunter's 1,000th goal. Others are kind of lame, like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw in concert (I mean who cares, really? Washington was just a stop on their tour). In a very me-centric moment here I'm proud to say that the sign outside Sections 109/110 where my seats are features a picture of John Wall with the caption Southeast Division Champions. Two thoughts here: (1) you can make fun of celebrating a measly division title if you want but this is the only thing the Wiz have won in the 18 years I've been a season ticket holder and (2) the Wiz won the division in 2017 by beating the Lakers in Los Angeles. I'll never forget that because
I was there. I'm still proud of this sign anyway.


New Concourse
This one's a work in progress. Like literally. They are clearly not done with part of this renovation. One of the account representatives last night assured me everything would be buttoned up for the season opener. I work in the design and construction industry; excuse me for being a little skeptical about construction schedules being maintained. I'm sure the original plan wasn't "let's not finish for the Caps' season opener but make sure we are good to go for the Wiz."

We visited the first and second levels and skipped the 400 level. We did this strictly based on where the food was and with no offense intended to the upper deck. There just wasn't any grub up there. The Club level showed little change, although there's clearly been a bit of work up there. The major changes are downstairs.

So what does this mean for the 100 level? It's tough to say. The floors are clearly new, they have added new tile outside every toilet room and there are some new baffled ceilings but the rest is so incomplete that's it's difficult to say whether there will be more or less room on that level. There's no doubt based on my having visited about half of the league's buildings that Capital One Arena is one of the smallest venues in the NBA. More concourse space would be good. I guess we'll find out when they are done but it looks on first blush that at least the bar area in the southeast corner of the building (what I believe used to be called the Bud Light Corner or something like that) is reduced in size, returning more space to circulation.



New Food
Two years ago way back when it was Verizon Center, a José Andrés food stand showed up in the building. I'd been begging for something more than Papa John's or Dunkin' Donuts for years. José in the building was a welcome addition. Having it change throughout the year from one Andrés restaurant to another was interesting but I think it worked.

Last year, they move José out and got Alex McCoy to move a version of his Lucky Buns joint into the building. This year, they are moving Alex along and getting more celeb chefs into the building (I guess you can debate whether McCoy was a celeb chef but let's say he is for this post).

Andrés and McCoy both put their food stands into the building under a Launch Test Kitchen brand banner. This year, their spot on the east side of Capital One Arena is occupied by Maria's Greek Kitchen serving up dishes created by Maria Menudos, who I see as the woman who talks to me in the preview section of the movies when I'm over in Courthouse AMC in my recliner waiting for the feature to start. We sampled a lamb and beef gyro last night that I thought was tasty but the texture of the bread and meat was off (the bread broke while folded and the meat was plastic-y). I'd maybe go back in a pinch hoping they have these kinks worked out later in the year.

It's also apparent that both David Chang and Cat Cora (who I definitely would call celebrity chefs) are going to have some presence in the building although I'm not sure where. Chang's chicken tenders (branded under his Fuku restaurant) and Cora's chicken and salmon (from her OLILO stand) were available for consumption last night. We passed on Cora's stuff because honestly Chang's chicken was freaking awesome. I'm not sure where these two are going to be (last night they were both in the PwC Club on the Club level) but I'd eat David Chang's food any day, even at a Wizards game. Chang is just good.

There's also a new taco stand where the brat / sausage place used to be on the east lower level. I found their steak taco salty and fatty. Not impressed on the first take but tacos are definitely good arena food.



Fewer VIP Seats
When season ticket renewal information was sent out to season ticket holders, a whole lot of folks behind the baskets at both ends of Capital One Arena found out they'd be denied access to VIP treatment during the coming season. It's kind of surreal looking at an empty Cap One and thinking about people in the first row behind the walkway having access to the Etihad Lounge and the people right behind them having nothing. I still feel bad for those folks. We did check out some of the available seats for purchase at the west end of the arena. Got $24K to blow on a single seat? Yikes! When did this stuff get so expensive?

There are some additional all-inclusive seats that have been added in the PwC Club at the west end of the arena. That whole area is now all you can eat and drink. Those seats are nice padded chairs with individual tables attached to the arm of each chair to hold your chicken tenders, InBev brew of choice or whatever else you happen to be consuming on an all-inclusive basis. Of course, they are also pretty darned expensive for an endzone seat on the second level. I'll be interested in seeing if there's any availability of this space on an individual game basis.


Brand new seats in the brand new PwC Club.
If this renovation is supposed to be finished for opening night, they got three weeks to get this done. Seems possible from my walk through last night but then again I'm not scheduling crews to get into the building before October 18. I'll start breaking my seat in Section 109 that night. In the meantime, there's always preseason to check out the renovations in an almost empty building.

Looks way better without the purple.