Sunday, April 20, 2008

Situation in Seattle reopens old wounds

Find out more about: Buffalo, Home of the Braves

Seattle is about to lose its basketball team the Super-Sonics to Oklahoma City of all places. Seattle fans fear the worst and even though the team still has two years remaining on their lease, the odds of the Sonics remaining in Seattle are low. Another owner makes a business decision, another franchise leaves town, fans feel betrayed, and there is likely nothing they can do about it.

The more things change the more they remain the same. The NBA owners voted this week 28-2 to allow the Sonics to move for the start of the 2008-09 season with NBA Commissioner David Stern very much in the fray. 30 years ago Stern negotiated the bizarre deal that swapped the Buffalo Braves franchise with the Boston Celtics and sent what remained to San Diego to become the Clippers.

As much as our nostalgic minds believe that sports weren't dictated by money back in the 70's; they were. The Braves swap/sale/exit from Western New York was all about an out of town owner who sought greener pastures and higher long term revenue.

The Sonics present a situation strangely similar to the Braves prior to their move. An owner from the south purchases the team (Clay Bennett) with the hidden desire to move the team elsewhere (in Bennett's case to his home state of Oklahoma). The out of town owner makes veiled threats and demands of the city to keep the team, when the plan was to move the team from the very beginning.

The unfortunate part for Buffalo is that the fans did fill seats when the product on the court was good and finally threw up their hands with frustration witnessing the revolving door of players that paraded in and out of town that final season.

Who could blame the Buffalo faithful for not investing in season tickets when the John Y. Brown circus was wheeling and dealing away the talents of Moses Malone, Adrian Dantley, Marvin Barnes, and John Shumate? Meanwhile the Buffalo Sabres were building a competitive team with players who would spend most of their careers in Buffalo with a stable local ownership.

The irony of all this is if the Sonics end up in Oklahoma City, a metropolitan region with a population base slightly ahead of Buffalo's. We feel Seattle's pain in an all too familiar way.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Most miserble, it's all relative, right?

Forbes Magazine of all publications today announced its list of the "Top Ten Most Miserable Sports Cities". I first heard of the rankings this morning while watching the Mike and Mike Show on ESPN2. I was waiting to see where Buffalo would land, knowing that a maligned reputation based on lost Super Bowls, rust belt economics, and snow would likely garner Buffalo a top position.

Buffalo was third behind Atlanta and Seattle with the rhetorical criteria centering around heartbreak, blown titles, and franchises that left town (i.e the Braves). After a fanfare buildup Mike and Mike's Mike Greenberg went through the rankings and simply stated, "That's not a very good list."

Instead of making apples and oranges comparison between cities and discrediting the sports reporting credentials of Forbes, it may be best to pinpoint why Buffalo and its sports community are an acquired (usually by birth) taste that outsiders don't generally understand. And oh yeah, for the record, the Buffalo Braves left town because of an inept ownership and not because of fan support.

30 days and two days ago the Braves played their last game in Buffalo. The Buffalo News barely took the time to honor the anniversary with a token article that was read like it was written by someone who wasn't even alive on April 8, 1978.

Yesterday Bob McAdoo and Randy Smith did make the final selections in the USA Today "All-time Braves/Clippers Starting Five". McAdoo outdistanced Elton Brand by 20 votes thanks to the last day effort from the Buffalo faithful.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Adrian gets his due

There was some justice in the Braves world today as Adrian Dantley was announced as an inductee to the Basketball Hall of Fame after seven previous attempts. Dantley started his career in Buffalo as the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1976 and twice led the league in scoring.

Justice is simply not prevailing for two other Braves. Hall of famer Bob McAdoo clings to a slight lead over upstart Elton Brand in the ongoing USA Today all-time Braves/Clippers poll. The lack of voting for Randy Smith is borderline pathetic who remains fifth in the voting behind McAdoo, Brand, Ron Harper and Danny Manning. It's worth noting that Smith has almost as many career points with the franchise as Harper and Manning combined.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

USA Today, All-Time Clippers Team

The polls are now open to vote for the Los Angeles Clippers' all-time five. At first glance it seems a bit crazy but USA Today has the online poll going until April 10th.

Predictably Bob McAdoo and Randy Smith are the only Buffalo Braves included. Their Clipper competition for the starting five includes Ron Harper, Danny Manning, Elton Brand, World B. Free, Benoit Benjamin, Terry Cummings, Norm Nixon, and Loy Vaught.

At the time of this entry McAdoo is leading the field and rightfully so. Since the franchise moved out of western New York after its ten year run, the Braves abbreviated accomplishments surpass the Clippers' 30 years of mediocrity.

Smith (shown in a 1974 photo) is only fifth in the poll voting although he is the all-time franchise leader in six statistical categories. At this point he trails Clipper players Manning, Harper, and Brand.

I'm amazed how many tried and true NBA hoop fans still don't realize that Smith's record of 906 consecutive games, a streak which concluded on March 13, 1983 is second only to the all-time NBA "ironman" A.C. Green.

Maybe it's his generic sounding name or the era and town he played in but it's time to show the love and vote Randy to the top along side his friend and teammate McAdoo.