So, the brilliant marketing minds of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings recently decided to welcome the Detroit Pistons by picking on the Motor City itself. Apparently, just before their game a few days ago, the Kings decided to flash scoreboard pictures of Detroit that included abandoned buildings, burned out cars, piles of rubble and other negative images. Was their intent to whip up the home town fans’ hatred of the visitors? Or did they want to "get inside" the heads of the Pistons’ players and get them so enraged that they’d forget the basics of roundball?
Regardless of the rationale behind the decision, one has to wonder why the Kings’ marketing people would pick on a team that’s already notorious for its all-out brawl with the Pacers last season is a mystery.
To make up for the egregious miscalculation, the Kings have run a series of print ads apologizing to the Pistons and the city of Detroit. Kings spokesperson Sonja Brown said, "We all feel terrible that we made just a big mistake, and we want to communicate that."
I’m sure David Stern and his NBA front office cohorts appreciate Brown’s apology. They need "big mistakes" like this like they need the proverbial hole in the head.
The whole league has a huge image problem. I was just in Portland, for example, where local fans call their team the "Jailblazers."
Teams "dissing" one another’s home towns is just another incendiary step on the road towards another massive conflagration a la the Pistons-Pacers brawl. What’s next? Kidnapping opposing team’s mascots? Burning enemy players in effigy? Perhaps Congress needs to step in as they have with the baseball steroids scandal. One thing is for sure: this stuff can’t keep happening without severe repercussions.