November 29, 2016

What Is A Fluid Ticket Anyway?

Every so often the Washington Wizards see fit to change up the benefits they offer their season ticket holders. Generally speaking, the benefits offered to us crazies that shell out money every year to watch this team play varies inversely with the team's on court performance (and ticket sales). Like the free group seats offered when JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche were walking the halls of Verizon Center? How about the special reception with Wizards players based on your level of tenure as a ticket holder during John Wall's first few years? And VIP access via the Monumental Rewards program just two years ago? All gone as the team got better or sold more tickets or got complaints from the biggest spenders.

So imagine my level of skepticism when the Wizards rolled out their latest enhancement for Wizards season ticket holders: the Fluid Ticket Program. I know what you are thinking: what the heck is a fluid ticket? And how can it possibly benefit me as a season ticket holder? Exactly my reaction when I first got the email announcing the feature. But after a few weeks exploring, I'm loving this benefit. Let me explain.

So the Fluid Ticket Program is essentially a ticket exchange feature on the team's official app that allows you to return your unused tickets to the team (as long as you do it before the game time listed on the ticket) for the full price you paid. You don't get the cash back; your return comes in the form of credit to buy additional or future tickets. And I know what some of you are thinking: I already have enough tickets to see this team play, why on Earth would I want more. Read on.

Foreshadowing. Cuban night by the way.
Why is this program awesome? Well, prior to this feature being available, missing a Wizards game left me two options: eat the cost of the ticket or try to sell it, which was a wild gamble based on who the opponent was and how indifferent the city of Washington is to the Wizards' performance. Can't make the Golden State or a Cleveland game? No problem; you'll make a tidy profit. Tied up at the office when the Wiz are hosting the Bucks or Jazz on a Tuesday? Better drop that resale price to the bare minimum and hope someone bites. And I mean really hope for that $5.

That message rings especially true this season because honestly the secondary market has been abysmal. I looked at tickets on StubHub the week before the Wizards-Celtics game earlier this month and I could have picked up lower level tickets in the center five sections for $30. Remember here that's the resale price; the season ticket holder selling admission to the game is getting less than that. Honestly for most games this season, season ticket holders had two choices: get 25 to 30 cents on the dollar on the resale market or turn your tickets back over to the team and receive full price credit. Given that choice, I'm taking some credit and trying my luck at some improved tickets later on in the year.

Now I realize this perk doesn't help those who want to attend every game much or at all. And I should explain at this point that I am in a unique position to use this benefit because I have two pairs of season tickets: one in the upper deck and one downstairs. The idea that my friend Mike and I came up with here was that we could bring extra people to a game now and then and not force the other person to miss out. But that also leaves us with a lot of extra tickets which we need to sell at a loss. This year, I've been trading them in for full credit.

More foreshadowing...
So what? Again, most people already have too many Wizards tickets. The last thing they want is more. Well the hidden benefit for me in this program is that VIP seats are available (which gets you access to the all you care to eat and drink Etihad Lounge under the stands) and the team gives you $100 free dollars to incentivize you to use the program. This is important. Let's do some math. 

Let's say you see some VIP tickets available on the Fluid Tickets Program for the Sacramento Kings game; the price is $195 per ticket, so you'd need $390 to buy a pair. The Wizards are giving you $100 for free. Trading in your Kings upper and lower level tickets (assuming you are like me and have both) gets you an additional $80 per lower level ticket and $30 per upper level ticket (just what you paid even though you know the uppers are overpriced). That gives you $320. Trade in two more upper level games which are utterly unsellable gets you an additional $120. 

You can now afford VIP tickets, which in my opinion are really valuable because I like to (a) eat, (b) drink and (c) watch Wizards hoops. Instead of watching the Kings game from the lower level while getting $5 for my upper deck tickets and spending at least $20 on beer, I'm eating and drinking for free at the game on the floor just for sacrificing what would likely be another couple of $5 sales on the resale market. Make sense? Too much math? Well, re-read these last two paragraphs as much as you need to so you understand. Or ask a friend for help.

Last night, I attended my first Wizards game with VIP access in about two seasons and it's because of this new benefit. I love this stuff so much that I'm doing it again next week when the Nuggets are in town and all that one cost me was a few tickets that would have been somewhat to totally unsellable on the secondary market. It's a total win for me. For a moment in time, I'm making out well with the Wizards.

The Etihad Airways lounge. LOVE this place. 
So there's a glass half empty side to this, right? Totally. There always is, even though I'm generally a glass half full guy. My top six takes (because there are six beers in a six pack) on the dark side to all this are below.

1. This program is only awesome because the Wizards secondary market sucks right now. If the team was actually drawing fans, I wouldn't need to trade my unused tickets in for team credit; I could just get some cash from ticket sales. Or I could just not spend my money on tickets to begin with.

2. If you have credit on your account at the end of the year, it disappears. Yep, that's right, if you have a few hundred bucks in credit when the last game ends, your money goes poof. Trade in tickets wisely, kids. Don't want to be stuck burning a bunch of money. $30 in way below cost sales is better than $150 in unused credit.

3. Not all games have VIP or even good tickets available in advance. Check this carefully. When I searched the games (and I did search every game) for VIP availability, I found four and all were before mid-December. That's not to say others won't be available later. Just don't bank on it. Weekend games (including Friday) had especially poor availability for additional tickets in all parts of the arena no matter the opponent.

4. The best time to maximize return from this program is before the Super Bowl. Trust me on this one: the Wizards resale market is always awful before football season is over and it's especially bad if Washington's NFL team still has a chance. Trading in tickets is wiser for tickets before Christmas than after February 1. I have the data to prove it. Wizards tickets sell better once football is done.

5. If you buy extra tickets to a game, the app prohibits returning unused tickets for that same game. I have no idea why it does this but you might want to think about this when you are considering upgrading your tickets through the app by buying first and returning later. I learned this one the hard way. I actually lied in my example story. I bought VIP tickets for the Kings game and tried to return my seats in 109 after the fact. Couldn't do it so I ended up sitting in my regular seats for that game because they are better than sitting behind the basket.

6. Extra tickets you buy are at the gate price, not the season ticket holder price. Want some extra upper deck tickets vs. the Cavs (if they were even available)? You'll be paying $79, not the season ticket price of $30. Just something to keep in mind.

If you are a Wizards season ticket holder like me who is tired of getting pennies on the dollar for tickets you can't use, I'd encourage you to check out this feature, even if you just end up spending the $100 the team gives you. I know this is going to prove extremely valuable for me this year. We'll see if it sticks next year. If it doesn't, I got two VIP games out of it without spending an extra dime, which I consider awesome.

One final note here: while the Wizards app is thinking about the absurdity of you buying extra tickets, it displays some "did you know" facts about the team's history. Unfortunately, the folks programming those messages can't spell Earl Monroe's last name right. I told someone at the team about it. I hope it's fixed by the time I press the "Publish" button on this post.

November 23, 2016

DC12 Club Loyalty Milestones

Before we get to the meat of this post, let me say I'm just confused by this Wizards team so far. We are inconsistent (nothing new there); don't seem to try very hard at times (nothing new there either); lose to teams we should beat (again...nothing new) and yet have shown flashes. This is clearly at times not your Randy Wittman coached Wizards team. And yet here we are at 4-9 and fighting for 11th place in the conference. Or maybe we will stay tied for 12th. I'm trying to be patient. We just aren't supposed to be rebuilding that's all. Enough said on that. Let's get to the post.

About a dozen or so years ago, the Washington Wizards introduced an anniversary milestones rewards program for season ticket holders as a way to recognize continued support of the team at the season ticket holder level. It started modestly, rewarding members for every five years of commitment up to (if I'm remembering correctly and it doesn't necessarily matter if I'm wrong here) 25 years. Since that time, the program has expanded to start at five years and end at 50 (!!!) years of membership.

So while it's worth acknowledging that this benefit is better than the nothing that existed before it, I think it's probably also worth looking at the relative value of the rewards against each other. To that end I've done some quick math on the cost of each of the ten milestones. To me, it appears there are some rewards for years and years of paying for Wizards basketball that are less valuable than some of the predecessor awards. As I approach 20 years as a season ticket holder, I'd love to see the team adjust some of these rewards so they make more sense.

My list is below. The descriptions are directly from the Wizards DC12 Club Membership Benefits Webpage and I've clipped the rewards listing from that page and pasted it at the top of this post. Let's start with the least valuable and end up at the most valuable.

1. 10 Years
Member's Name Displayed on the Wizards Wall of Fame (Primary Account Holder's Name Only)

You could argue that some of the rewards on this list have value without having a monetary equivalent. You certainly could make that case here with the 10 Year award. After all, there's no way to (legally) get your name on the wall of Verizon Center without actually buying Wizards season tickets for 10 years. I can agree one can make that argument, but I'm not buying it here. I like that my name is on a list of 10+ year season ticket holders at VC but it's not really worth anything to me.

Value: $0.

2. 25 Years
Participate in the Pre-Game Captain's Meeting at a Pre-Selected Home Game (One Person Per Account)

I'm shocked that the reward for 25 years of sitting in Verizon Center watching Wizards games comes out as the second least valuable on this list but I can't see it any other way. Now I haven't been through this reward yet so there could be some ancillary stuff beyond the description of the reward like access to VIP areas or something else. But going on the surface of things and having seen these folks out at center court before most every game, it appears to me this is about a five minute photo opportunity and that's it. Let's say you get a nicely framed photograph of the occasion to hang on your wall. That's what I've assumed in calculating this experience's value.

Now, you could argue again that this is not something you can just opt to do on your own (like some of the later rewards) and so therefore this is a special event afforded only to 25 year season ticket holders. I mean it's not like you can just stride out to center court and hang out with Marcin Gortat, Tomas Satoransky and whomever the opponent sends out there, right? All that is true and I'd be on board if this same experience weren't available at auction on the Monumental Rewards website. Save your points and bid wisely and you can get the exact same thing as someones who's poured 25 years of cost into the team. The Wizards have to change this, don't they? They make it worse by only allowing one person per account to participate. Ouch!

Value: $50.

3. 5 Years
Private Reception with Wizards Management and Special Guests

The first rewards milestone season ticket holders will receive is at five years. I think if I'm remembering things right the team rolled this out right when I reached the five year mark. My reward? A reception in the (then) Acela Club with free food and beer with Ernie Grunfeld. Gilbert Arenas was supposed to be there but allegedly had a flat tire and couldn't attend. So our "special guests" ended up being nobody. I'm not assigning any value to the special guests part of this event, even though some of these things can offer unique insights into the NBA. I still remember an awesome conversation we had with Josh Howard about diet and fitness a number of years ago at a similar event.

The five year reward is worth it. We got some free food and booze for two people plus a basketball signed by Gilbert Arenas (which I still have). I've calculated the theoretical value here assuming you chow down and you get two spots. Also, I've figured Verizon Center beer prices which might actually make the number low depending on how much you can drink. It doesn't take much to get to a $50 alcohol bill at VC.

Value: $100.

4. 30 Years
Two Tickets to the Owner's Suite for a Pre-Selected Wizards Game

The 30 Year reward is two tickets to a game that you have tickets for anyway. The Owner's Suite (I'm assuming) is the one right around Section 101 with the elevator to allow former owner Abe Pollin to get to his suite without crossing paths with fans. Considering the success of the team, maybe a smart move. I guess the real value of this experience depends on if the owner shows up. Ted usually sits courtside and honestly those seats are probably way more desirable.

I'm assuming a suite ticket on the 100 level costs about $150? Just a guess. Maybe there's some food an a can of beer or two thrown in there which might add $50-75 per person. Sounds good to me.

Value: $450.

5. 20 Years
Trip to an Eastern Conference Away Game (Two Guests Per Account)

The 20 Year reward is the first of three regular season road trips Wizards season ticket holders can cash in on. I'm assuming this particular reward is a trip to Philadelphia because (a) there's no mention of any overnight accommodations so that sort of limits the distance and (b) I know that's where the team has taken folks before. And yes, just like the Pre-Game Captains' Meeting reward, they've had made this item available on the Monumental Rewards site before.

I might actually have this and the 30 Year reward switched. The value is awfully similar. I know the Wizards have in the past bought suites at Wells Fargo Center so let's say tickets are $100 per person. Let's assume they also spring for some food and booze just like we assumed at VC at 30 Years which adds $50-75 per person. Throw in bus fare worth about $30 each way and I get a little more than the 30 Year reward.

Value: $470.

6. 40 Years
Overnight Trip to a Pre-Selected Wizards Away Game, Including Airfare, Hotel, and Game Tickets (Two Guests Per Account)

OK so now we are talking: a real road trip! After 40 years (I mean can you even imagine?) of paying for Wizards games on a season ticket basis, you are off on a real trip with the team. I've done this several times so far as a fan on my own. I'd love for the team to take me away for an overnight trip to watch the Wiz play.

So this one includes airfare (let's ballpark that at $400 figuring it's not a California trip) for two; a hotel room for a night (say $250?) and tickets to the game ($150 each?). Assume there are some incidentals or other sorts of perks in there at maybe $100 per person and you are talking some serious money laid out by the team.

Value: $1,550.

7. 45 Years
On-Court Recognition and Your Choice of Either an Overnight Trip to an Away Game or a Trip to an Eastern Conference Away Game (Two Guests Per Account)

So 45 years in you get either the exact same thing you got at 40 years or the exact same thing you got at 20 years. Let's go glass half full here and say it's another overnight roadie where you get to fly somewhere. I'm going to use the same budget for this reward but since there's an on court acknowledgement which may be similar the much maligned (at least in this post) pre-game captains' meeting, I'll throw in the cost of that also.

Value: $1,600.

8. 15 Years
Complimentary Lexus Level Suite for a Game with Stadium Food for a Group of 18 (One Per Account)

Of all the things I've done as a Wizards fan interacting with this team, being handed an entire Lexus Level suite for a game a couple of years ago was the best. This is a seriously valuable perk. I loved this experience. I wish I could do it again. I especially wish I could od it again for free. And I got to bring 18 of my closest friends. Seriously generous on the part of the franchise.

And this is not a cheap item. I haven't verified the cost this year but I think when I checked last year these started at about $1,200 per game. And that's for the cheapest game on the slowest night. We got a Friday night game against the (then almost good) Brooklyn Nets. And it came with free food, a swag bag for every guest and a couple of six packs of beer (which alone are worth about $35 each and yes that's actually cheaper at $6 or so a beer than elsewhere in Verizon Center). Let's spitball the cost of a suite at about $1,400 and throw in about $200 worth of food and beer and swag. Yes, it's technically tied with the 45 Year reward when you add all that up but since you get it a quarter of a century earlier, I'm ranking it higher.

Value: $1,600.

9. 35 Years
Limo Transportation for You and a Guest to and from a Pre-Selected Wizards Home Game, Plus a Fully Catered Lexus Level Suite for up to 18 Guests

I really want another suite to myself but I have to tell you I can't imagine I'm (a) waiting another 20 years before I do that again or (b) going to be a Wizards season ticket holder when I'm 71. Let's say the limo adds $150 to the cost of this experience and the "Fully Catered" suite costs about $400 more than the "Stadium Food." Good reward. Not sure if I would be more or less fun after 70 than before 50.

Value: $2,150.

10. 50 Years
Trip to Las Vegas to Watch the Wizards Summer League Team in Action (Two Guests Per Account)

I love Summer League. Like genuinely absolutely LOVE it. Gambling, great food, open carry laws (for alcohol that is) and hoops. How can a trip to Vegas get much better than that?

Before this past summer, I'd been to seven consecutive Summer Leagues. My typical stay was just three nights (as much as I love Vegas it seems three nights at a time is about all I can handle) although I took in all five Wizards games in 2010 right after we drafted John Wall. The value of this reward is going to be dependent on the length of the stay of course. Let's give the Wizards some huge credit and assume it's a three night trip. I could be and likely am way off on this one.

I think you can get to Vegas and back for $500 per person. Let's say they put you up somewhere nice (not at Excalibur where I usually stay) that costs $250 per night. Finally let's say they spring for courtside tickets at $100 per seat per person for three days of action. Again, I may be reaching with the perks on this one but you've been a season ticket holder for 50 years. There has to be some big spending going on here. In fact, you know what? Let's just round the whole thing up to the nearest $500.

Value: $2,500. And yes, that may be way off.

Go ahead and nitpick the value of each reward if you want. This is just my semi-informed opinion. And no, I didn't do a whole lot of detailed research. The point of this post is not to get the value of the rewards right to the dollar or penny but to point out that in my opinion the value does not increase with tenure. If I've got the dollar value wrong on any of these (and I'm sure I've actually got it wrong depending on your point of view on ALL of them) so be it; I don't believe I'm far enough off to have one reward swap places with another on the list with the possible exception of 4/5 and 7/8. And I'm OK swapping those. Of all the rewards, I'd be most concerned about the relative lack of value you get after 25 years. It's certainly way less than the 15 and 20 year rewards and you can get it with Monumental Rewards points.

My next reward is 20 years but honestly, I'd rather have the 15 year reward all over again. I think the Wizards should take a look at this list and consider a re-shuffle. It might keep me as a season ticket holder longer. I'm in for 20 because I do want the trip to Philly, even though I've already been there. But I'm not motivated to stay for 25 because of the pre-game captains' meeting. And unless the team's performance improves, the competitiveness ain't going to keep me either.

November 13, 2016

Bobblehead Nation 2016

It's time for my third annual NBA bobblehead roundup which I'm starting to think might be better off called the Wizards Bobblehead Collector's Lament (but we can come back to that bitterness...). This project is a labor of love each year (and I DO love bobbleheads) involving a whole lot of searching on each team's home page to find the latest and greatest promotional or giveaway schedules. Over half of the teams in the NBA have now published their list of free loot available to fans at the door, so it's time to push this thing out there.

Yes, I get that it's the second week of November and at this point some of the bobbleheads listed in this post have already been handed out. Blame the teams who are slow to post their schedules, not me. There's always eBay after all. Hopefully this can serve as a resource to NBA bobblehead collectors nationwide (or worldwide for that matter). After all, there's nothing better than holding a brand new questionable quality bobblehead handed to you for free upon entrance to an NBA arena.

There's some awfully good stuff this year, especially if you live in or around Dallas or Indianapolis. Just like the last couple of years, I'm sure there are more out there which are not yet available for amateur internet searchers like me. If I missed anything let me know and I'll correct or add a second post. For those of you in Washington, you have to wait until March for our one bobblehead giveaway. In the meantime bobblehead collectors nation-wide, let's get to the 2016-2017 list.

4 Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
6 San Jose Sharks Edition Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
21 Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
As far as I am aware (and, look I'm not necessarily that aware here), the Golden State Warriors are the only NBA team recently to give away bobbleheads in the preseason. Two years ago, it was two; last year they upped it to three; and this year they match last year's output with their current big three of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

First let me say what an incredible idea this is to get folks in the door before the real NBA action starts. I attended two of the Wizards three preseason games (which should totally be free for season ticket holders by the way) and there was barely anyone there. Schedule a Tomas Satoransky or John Wall in a Capitals jersey bobblehead and people would be lining up at the door.

Steph Curry's preseason bobblehead comes with him holding two MVP trophies from the past two seasons. You can add Klay Thompson in a San Jose Sharks jersey to match the one of Steph handed out last year. Draymond Green's is flexing, not trying to kick LeBron James or sitting in civvies in a suite at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum during game five of the Finals (which his team lost without him).

26 Bobby "Slick" Leonard (Indiana Pacers)
The Indiana Pacers are celebrating their 50th season this year with seven (!!!!) bobbleheads which I think is absolutely fantastic. The franchise has existed for parts of six decades from the 1960s to the 2010s and they are devoting one night this season to each decade or partial decade that they have been playing basketball. But before they get to giving out player bobblehead for the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, aughts and 10s, they kicked things off opening night with a Bobby "Slick" Leonard bobblehead. Slick is the Pacers' most legendary coach, leading the team to three ABA titles in 1970, 1972 and 1973 before guiding the franchise into the NBA after the 1976 merger. I love that he comes with a red, white and blue ABA basketball. I still long for a Randy Wittman Wizards bobblehead. Just saying...I'll let it go eventually, I promise. 

2 Calavera (Phoenix Suns)
Never heard of this NBA player with a single name? Me either. That's because he's not an NBA player but a word for one of those cool Mexican skulls used in the Day of the Dead or Dia de Muertos celebration. The Suns got lucky with this game being scheduled on November 2 which is the actual Day of the Dead. This is the first of two team issued bobbleheads across the NBA that are not players, coaches or broadcasters affiliated with the teams that are handing them out. The other is on January 29 and I can't wait to see that one.

9 Jamal Crawford (Los Angeles Clippers)

Jamal Crawford's like the fine wine of the NBA. He was selected in the 2000 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers who shipped him off to the Chicago Bulls before ever playing a minute. From there he bounced around a bit from New York to Golden State to Atlanta as a sometimes starter but mostly bench player with no All-Star appearances. Then in 2010 with the Hawks he won the NBA's Sixth Man award for the top bench player in the league. Since then, he's won it twice more in 2014 and 2016 both with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Sixers tried to steal Crawford away in the offseason. Clips fans will be glad on November 9 that they didn't.

12 Roger Brown (Indiana Pacers)

The Pacers' player bobblehead madness starts in earnest on November 12 with Roger Brown, who played with the team from 1967-1974, including all three ABA championship teams. Brown represents the 1960s for the Pacers during their anniversary season. I don't have a whole lot else to say about Brown other than he had his jersey retired by the Pacers and he's in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Maybe I need another trip to Springfield.

28 Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)

Still shaking my head about this one. Kevin Durant was the Dubs marquee signing in the offseason and he gets the team's first regular season bobblehead, signifying either he's the Warriors' fourth banana or something else or nothing at all. You don't get Durant in the preseason but you can pick him up at Oracle Arena on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

5 Harrison Barnes (Dallas Mavericks) / Elvin Hayes (Houston Rockets)
Raise your hand if you think Mark Cuban is the best owner in the NBA. My hand is up. If your's isn't just wait a paragraph.

After missing out on a few top tier free agents this offseason, the Mavericks settled for offering the Warriors' Harrison Barnes a dumptruck full of cash. It worked and Barnes became a Maverick. About a month and a half later with his new team, he gets a bobblehead. And he's not the last one. Barnes is the first of 12 (not a typo - 12!!!!) bobbleheads to be handed out by the Mavs this year. That's like one every three and a half home games. Basically if you were in the NBA last year and are playing for Dallas this year, you get a bobblehead. The only three guys on the roster who don't are their three rookies. Hands up if you think Mark Cuban is the best owner in the NBA now. Just ignore their current record when you think about that.

Elsewhere in Texas, the Houston Rockets have four bobbleheads on their slate of giveaways this season and they are all retired players from the team's past. They start with Elvin Hayes who won an NBA Championship and had his number retired right here in Washington. So why is he getting a bobblehead in Houston? Well, Hayes was selected by the Rockets (albeit when they were in San Diego and played for the team for about four years before being traded to the Bullets. After Abe Pollin had the big E lead the team to a title in '78, he sent him back to the Rockets to close out his career. But as much as Elvin may have contributed to Houston's pro team, he was perhaps more important as a college ball legend at the University of Houston, averaging 31 points and more than 17 rebounds per game while also breaking the color barrier on that school's basketball team (along with Don Chaney). Important stuff there, folks.

7 Brook Lopez (Brooklyn Nets)

For the second straight year, the Nets are giving away a Brook Lopez Star Wars bobblehead. What's up with that? Is Lopez a big Star Wars fan or did not enough people show up to any Nets game last year so they can afford to give the extras away this year? I guess we'll find out December 7. The picture above is Lopez with last year's bobble.

10 Mel Daniels and George McGinnis (Indiana Pacers)
The best thing about the Pacers' seven bobblehead giveaways? One is a double, which I assume means there are actually eight bobbleheads to be handed out in Indy this season. Both players are Pacers legends. Daniels won three titles with the team and McGinnis was around for the last two. In a decade when the Pacers were dominant (the 1970s), I wondered how they would accommodate both Daniels and McGinnis. Now I know.

18 Devin Harris (Dallas Mavericks)

Mavericks bobblehead night number two. Harris has to be the only bench player to get two bobbleheads of himself handed out over a three year period right? If you miss this one, Mavs fans, don't worry. There's another one in a couple of weeks.

20 Nate Thurmond (Golden State Warriors)

The Warriors become the third team this NBA season to roll out a retired player bobblehead. Nate was drafted by the Warriors (then the San Francisco Warriors) in 1963 and played for the team until 1974, the year before the franchise's first title. Thurmond's number 42 is retired by both the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers (who he played less than two seasons for) and he entered the Hall of Fame in 2006. This one should be a little poignant for Warriors fans. Nate passed away in July of this year at the age of 74.

21 Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)

The Phoenix Suns are handing out three bobbleheads this year. Two are not players; this one is. After a promising rookie season, I've seen second year man Devin Booker's name on a lot of preseason Most Improved Player lists so it seems right that the Suns would hand out bobbleheads of Booker. 

2 DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers)
DeAndre Jordan was one of 12 NBAers to head to Rio this past summer and grab himself an easy gold medal. The Clippers are celebrating that feat by making a bobblehead with Jordan presumably wearing his medal in his number 6 USA jersey.

5 Deron Wiliams (Dallas Mavericks)

Mavericks bobblehead night number three. After years of rumors and speculation, the Mavs finally got Deron Williams into a Dallas jersey in the 2015 offseason, a move that represented a homecoming of sorts for the three time NBA All-Star. The problem for the Mavs? Williams is not really that good anymore. Still, he's on the roster so this year he gets a bobblehead.

7 Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls) / Chuck Person (Indiana Pacers)

Did you miss out on Jimmy Butler bobblehead night last season in Chicago? If you did, don't worry because they are handing out a Butler bobble again this year. Butler's sort of the last man standing for the Bulls. Over the last two years, Chicago's handed out Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah (twice) bobbleheads. Those guys are all gone now and Jimmy's left in Chi-town. Don't worry, Bulls fans, there's a couple of other All-Stars that the team has added to the roster who are getting celebrated in bobblehead form.

The Pacers are celebrating the 1980s with a Chuck Person bobblehead and here I'm going to have to go both off script and into spoiler alert mode. I'm not sure I agree with this selection. When I look at the Pacers' all time leaders, I see Rik Smits second in games played, minutes and points and third in rebounds. Yet no Smits bobblehead. Smits played from 1988 to 2000 so the Pacers really had two credible options: make him the 1980s or 1990s bobblehead. The chose neither. I'm sure Chuck Person's a good guy and if I were a Pacers season ticket holder I'd take it. But I'd want Smits more.

9 Rajon Rondo (Chicago Bulls)

If you are a Bulls fan, I told you so. The Bulls made two marquee free agent signings this offseason: former Celtic / Maverick / King Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade, who after being shorted on salary so his friends could play with him for years finally got sick of that treatment in Miami and took his talents to the Windy City. They both get the bobblehead treatment this year in Chicago. If I were a Bulls fan, I'd be longing for a Taj Gibson bobble. No such luck this year. You are stuck with Butler (for the second year in a row), Rondo and Wade. At least you get three.

10 Andre Iguodala (Golden State Warriors) / Calvin Murphy (Houston Rockets)

Last year Warriors fans got an Iggy NBA Finals MVP bobblehead in the preseason. This year he's back in bobblehead form just after the new year in a virtual reality golf pose. Maybe I don't understand technology but I just don't get this one. However, there's a lot of things I don't get in this world, like how the Wizards ever made a Jarvis Hayes bobblehead. Sure enough, Jarvis is on my shelf at home. If I were a Dubs fan, I'd be at the game early on January 10 for a golfing Andre bobblehead.

In addition to Iggy in Oakland on January 10, Rockets fans in Houston get handed a Calvin Murphy bobblehead complete with San Diego Rockets apparel. Murphy spent his 13 year entire career with the Rockets, earning one All-Star appearance over that span of time and having his number retired after he hung up his sneakers. He still works for the Rockets organization today as a television broadcaster. At just 5'-9" tall, Murphy is the shortest player ever inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

13 Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)

I'm not sure I'll ever get the spelling of Giannis' last name down. I have to look at the right way to spell it every time I write it. Fortunately, I don't have many occasions to write his name. For the second straight year, the Bucks hand out a Giannis bobblehead. Not arguing with the selection but can't teams dig a little deeper into their rosters more often? In Brooklyn, there's Brook Lopez two years in a row, in Chicago it's Jimmy Butler, now Giannis. I'm still showing up for this one if I'm a Bucks fan. After all, I have four different John Wall bobbleheads on my shelves at home here near DC.

15 Jeremy Lin (Brooklyn Nets)

The Nets tried and failed on a couple of restricted free agents this offseason after signing both Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson to offer sheets only to see the Trail Blazers and Heat respectively match their offers. As a result they ended up with Jeremy Lin as their top free agent signing, which I guess should probably clue you in on the Nets' prospects for success this year after finishing towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference last year. Nothing against Lin; I think he had a terrific year in Charlotte last year and wish the Wiz could have taken a look at him. But if you are a bad team and Lin's your best free agent signing, maybe your expectations are pretty low this year too. If I'm a Nets fan, I'm probably more excited about three bobblehead giveaways on the schedule more than I am about the team's hopes for the playoffs.

22 Salah Mejri (Dallas Mavericks)

Dallas Mavericks bobblehead night number four. I have to tell you, I couldn't pick Mejri out of a crowd 7'-1" Tunisian guys if you asked me to. However, he's in the right place at the right time for a bobblehead of himself. What the Mavs are doing this year is awesome. This would be like us Wizards fans getting handed a Jason Smith bobblehead. And yes, Wizards fans, I'd see that as a good thing.

25 J.J. Barea (Dallas Mavericks) / Matthew Dellavedova (Milwaukee Bucks)

Dallas Mavericks bobblehead night number five. Wait a second, didn't they just have one of these? Yep. Like three days ago. Two bobbles in four nights?!?!?! Are you kidding me? Barea is probably a more celebrated pickup for fans than Mejri because of his role in the team's 2011 championship.

The same night the Mavs hand out J.J., the Milwaukee Bucks hand out their big offseason acquisition Matthew Dellavedova in bobblehead form. Dellavedova definitely hit free agency at the right time. He's set for life with that Bucks contract. As scrappy as he is and as much as I hated Delly with the Cavs, I wish the Wiz had have picked him up this past offseason. I'd be out front early for this one in Milwaukee.

29 King Cake Baby (New Orleans Pelicans)

Of all the bobbleheads being handed out in the NBA this year, I have to say I'm looking forward to seeing this one more than any other (yes, even more than Kelly Oubre, Jr.). I can't imagine what this thing is going to look like. A King Cake is a part of New Orleans' Mardi Gras tradition and inside each cake is a little plastic baby which symbolizes Jesus. Whoever gets the baby in their slice is supposed to have good luck. I see this thing as a creepy pink naked baby with an oversized head (actually aren't all babies' heads oversized?) or a pink baby emerging Alien-like from a multicolored slice of cake. Can't wait for January 29.

1 Andrew Bogut (Dallas Mavericks)
Dallas Mavericks bobblehead night number six. Think January was a big month for Mavs fans on the bobblehead front with three? Think again because the Mavericks are handing out five in the shortest month of the year. They start with Andrew Bogut on the first of the month, whom they acquired in a salary dump from the Warriors in the offseason. If you are an Australia basketball bobblehead fan, you have to be thrilled at the possibility of Delly and Bogut in one season.

5 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Brooklyn Nets)

The Nets third new bobblehead this year (assuming the Brook Lopez Star Wars bobblehead isn't a liquidation of last year's leftover bobbleheads) gets handed out on February 5 and it's second year man Hollis-Jefferson after averaging 5.8 points per game as a rook.

9 Justin Anderson (Dallas Mavericks)

Dallas Mavericks bobblehead night number seven. At this point, I'm getting tired of writing about Mavericks bobbleheads. Anderson was  the Mavs' first round draft pick in 2015. He averaged 3.8 points per game in the regular season last year as a rookie. This year, he gets a bobblehead.

11 Quincy Acy (Dallas Mavericks) / Mario Elie (Houston Rockets) / Reggie Miller (Indiana Pacers)

Dallas Mavericks bobblehead night number eight. February 11 is one of two three bobblehead nights across the NBA and of course both those nights feature a Mavs bobble. The only thing I have to say about Acy is that he got ejected on Christmas Day 2014 for throwing a punch at John Wall. Acy's not a favorite of mine. Let's move on.

February 11 is Houston Rockets throwback bobblehead night number three, this one celebrating Mario Elie and his Kiss of Death shot against the Phoenix Suns en route to the Rockets' second NBA title in 1995. The shot came with 7.1 seconds remaining in the 1995 Western Conference Semifinals to put the Rockets up three. Right after the shot, Elie blew the Suns bench a kiss. Then he took the Rockets into the NBA Finals for a second straight title while Michael Jordan tried to play baseball down in Alabama.

The Pacers celebrate the 1990s with Reggie Miller. As a former Knicks fan, I am officially obliged to type I hate Reggie Miller. But there's no other choice here. Reggie's the greatest Pacer ever. I'm standing in line early for this one if I'm a Pacers fan.

13 Seth Curry (Dallas Mavericks)

Dallas Mavericks bobblehead night number nine. Two years ago, we saw two brothers in Markieff and Marcus Morris get bobbleheads in Phoenix. This year, the Curry brothers get one each in Golden State and Dallas. Congrats, Seth!

26 Miles Plumlee Bobblehead Toothbrush Holder (Milwaukee Bucks)

Every so often there's an NBA giveaway item that is so amazingly profound as an idea that it deserves some special attention. If there's one this year, it's the Miles Plumlee toothbrush holder which features Plumlee in bobblehead form standing next to your favorite toothbrush. And it's no surprise that it's a product of the awesome NBA marketing geniuses in Milwaukee. How could this not get you off to a good start every day to brush with a bobblehead? I'd consider flying to Milwaukee for game day just to get one of these things. Although if I wanted it that badly, I'm sure it's cheaper to find one on eBay. As for the meaning behind Plumlee being on this one? Well, who cares? It's a freaking bobblehead and toothbrush holder for crying out loud. I expect households all over Wisconsin will have these in place by the morning of February 27.

27 Wesley Matthews (Dallas Mavericks)

Dallas Mavericks bobblehead night number ten. Matthews and DeAndre Jordan were supposed to be the two players to take the Mavericks back into the NBA elite last year before Jordan reneged on his verbal commitment and bolted back to the Clippers. This year, Matthews joins Jordan on the bobblehead list for their respective teams.

3 Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks) / Al McCoy (Phoenix Suns) / Kelly Oubre, Jr. (Washington Wizards)
Dallas Mavericks bobblehead night number 11 (!!). Powell was filler in the Rajon Rondo to Dallas trade a couple of years ago. I honestly had to look up something to write about Powell and that's all I got. Just one more Mavs bobble to go and you might be able to guess who that is.

When the Suns first released their promo schedule this year, they had a WeArePHX Mystery Bobblehead on this date. I see now that they have changed this date to Al McCoy, who will be inducted into the Suns' Ring of Honor on March 3. Who's Al McCoy you ask (as did I)? Well, he's the radio broadcaster for the Suns and has been since 1972, having missed only a single game in the last 44 years. Well done and well deserved, I'm sure. That kind of dedication and loyalty is impressive.

Finally on March 3, Wizards fans get their annual lone bobblehead of the season when second year man Kelly Oubre, Jr. gets handed out in poorly painted resin form. This one should be cool: Kelly's hair is going to be more difficult to model and paint than the typical generic bobbleheads we sometimes see at the doors of Verizon Center and I'm dying to know if they are going to put him in short shorts. Guess we'll find out for sure on March 3.

8 Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)

While not so interesting as the King Cake Baby bobblehead the Pels are handing out January 29, I'd be stoked for an Anthony Davis bobblehead if I were a Pelicans fan especially if the team's 1-9 start is any indication of how the season is going to go down in the Big Easy. By the time we get to March 8, this 'Brow bobblehead may be the best reason to show up to the Smoothie King Center.

10 Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
Dallas Mavericks bobblehead night number 12 (of 12!!). The Mavs saved the best for last. As a Mavs fan, I'd be ecstatic on this night as I added Dirk to the 11 other bobbles from the 2016-2017 season on my bobblehead shelf. This truly is an embarrassment of riches. I'm jealous.

11 Jabari Parker (Milwaukee Bucks)

The fourth and final bobblehead in Milwaukee this year is a letdown in terms of genius level because it's not also a toothbrush holder but an upgrade in terms of players because Parker's just better than Plumlee. And it's sort of been a long time coming for Parker even though it's only been three years. If Milwaukee's going to get good any time soon, Parker's likely a key piece of that puzzle. 

12 Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers)
I saw the Pacers going one of two ways on their aughts bobblehead: Jermaine O'Neal or Danny Granger. Ultimately the Malice at the Palace was probably too much for the Pacers to bear to roll out a Jermaine O'Neal bobblehead for their golden anniversary. If the Wizards ever celebrate their past in bobblehead form, I assume Gilbert Arenas will lose out to Antawn Jamison for similar reasons.

24 Dwyane Wade (Chicago Bulls)

Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo, the other two Bulls bobble handouts this year, get distributed in back to back games in January. Bulls fans have to wait until late March to get their hands on returning hometown guy (and Marquette product) Wade. There's a ton of enthusiasm for Wade returning to Chicago for these next two years. No doubt he's a first ballot Hall of Famer. As a Bulls fan, I'd wonder how much he has left in the tank over a full NBA season while happily getting my paws on this gem.

4 Channing Frye (Cleveland Cavaliers) / Paul George (Indiana Pacers)
Frye is one of those guys who was just in the right place at the right time. After nine and a half seasons with New York (zero playoff appearances); Portland (one playoff appearance); Phoenix (one playoff appearance); and Orlando (zero playoff appearances), Frye got traded to the Cavaliers for Jared Cunningham (who?) and a second round pick. Cunningham never suited up for the Magic and is now in China; Frye is an NBA champion and has a bobblehead of himself.

Paul George is the eighth and final Pacers bobblehead this season. What a rush. Wish I was a Pacers fan for this reason and this reason alone. Although honestly if we are talking bobbleheads, I'd rather just be a Mavericks fan this year. There was no other choice here for the Pacers to celebrate the current decade. 

5 Tracy McGrady (Houston Rockets)
The last currently announced bobblehead in the NBA this year is on April 4 with the fourth of four retired player bobbleheads in Houston. T-Mac spent five and a bit seasons in Houston before stints with the Knicks, Pistons and Hawks. It's amazing to me how I lose track of former All-Stars' teams after they fell from grace. I still struggle to remember Patrick Ewing played for the Seattle SuperSonics and that Gilbert Arenas and Allen Iverson played in Memphis. I couldn't have told you McGrady played in New York, Detroit or Atlanta. McGrady's best years were in Orlando, but he managed three All-Star appearances in Houston which ain't bad I guess. 

This wraps the list for this year. Or at least my initial crack at it. There are 48 bobbleheads out there this season (49 if you count Mel Daniels and George McGinnis as two) which ain't too bad at all. This list is based on 17 of the 30 NBA teams publishing promotional giveaway lists for this year. The 17 are the teams who have bobbleheads listed above plus the 76ers, Hornets, Grizzlies, Jazz, Trail Blazers and Lakers, all of whom have decided to forego bobblehead handouts this year. Although it should be noted that Utah has three TBD dates on their schedule and the Charlotte Hornets are giving away Starting Line Up figurines. Not bobbleheads so not on this list.

There are also other bobbleheads out there to be had. The Denver Nuggets (as shown at the top of this post) are making a Dikembe Mutombo bobblehead available to fans purchasing a certain ticket package and the Washington Wizards have a really strange Bradley Beal bobblehead as part of their Kids' Club package. More on that when I get my hands on one of those. In the meantime, have at it NBA bobblehead collectors. Happy collecting.

I'm missing lists from the Celtics, Knicks, Raptors, Pistons, Magic, Heat, Hawks, Spurs, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Thunder and Kings. If any of those teams make their lists available anytime soon, I'll add theirs to this list.

November 12, 2016

You Are Making Too Much Noise

My team is 2-6 to start the new season. And as it turns out, it's time for a small rant on this blog. But it's not about the team's on court performance. And this is not intended to get anyone in trouble. It's a rant; that's it.

I believe the Washington Wizards have a fan problem. I've written about that issue twice in this calendar year, once to point out the issue and offer a potential solution and once just last month to encourage Wizards fans to boo a specific player on the opponent's team during big games. Based on the amount of people (I guess with the exception of last night's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers) and the amount of noise (including last night's game) in Verizon Center during our first five home games this year, I continue to believe I am correct.

For my part, I continue to show up game after game wearing Wizards apparel and making noise to encourage the home team and boo the visitors just like I've been doing for almost 20 years since I moved to the Washington area. I continued to do this last night during the Cavaliers game when I was asked to do something surprising by our section's usher: please make less noise. Apparently someone had complained about me and my friend Mike and all the noise we were making. In 16 prior seasons as a season ticket holder mostly attending 35-41 regular season home games (I split the first two seasons with someone else)  and the five games this year, this has never happened to me. And it's honestly concerning.

Now, I don't believe fans at NBA games have the right to say whatever they want. I believe swearing; obvious intoxication; making comments related to race, gender, sexual orientation or disability; and directly engaging with other fans in hostile behavior is in appropriate and should be cautioned before removal from the arena. I believe that the NBA's fans are generally speaking the most diverse, most sophisticated and most respectful of any fans in the four major sports. I've seen fights in the stands at the few hockey games and football games (I don't really go to that many baseball games) I've attended. In all the NBA games I've sat through in DC or elsewhere,  I've never seen a fight and I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen someone removed from Verizon Center.

There are a couple of things that concern me about last night's admonishment from our usher. First, we were not swearing, directly or indirectly engaging with other fans or displaying any of the behaviors I listed in the paragraph above. We weren't even standing up. I have engaged with other teams' fans before at Verizon Center in both friendly and sometimes less friendly conversations. In most all cases, the engagement here has started with the other party. 

Second, when I told our usher that we were just cheering, weren't swearing and generally weren't doing anything wrong, we were told "I know." Well, if you know that we aren't doing anything wrong, why don't you tell those people that are complaining that we are well within our rights to cheer on the home team and boo the opposition.

Who knows what pushed these folks that complained about us over the edge. It might have been the "WAAAAAHHHH!!!!" noises I made after LeBron James grabbed his lower back after a foul call right about the time we were told to be quiet(er) and the time I took the picture above. If it was that, I think I should be able to make those kinds of noises, no matter how loud I am. Or maybe it was my clapping which is sometimes very loud and which I have been asked twice by fans (I'm not kidding) to tone down over the last decade or so (once at VC and once in Chicago's United Center). Whatever it was, I don't believe I should have been cautioned for it and I'm going to continue to root, root, root for the home team. That's probably enough on this subject for now. The team's in Chicago tonight. Go Wizards!