No matter what you think about the state of the NBA these days, you have to agree that the attendance numbers are, at the very least, slightly troubling.
With that in mind, it begs the question: Just how bad is attendance these day? If you go by reported statistical figures, it seems to be off by 5 to 10%, perhaps more, but just how accurate are those numbers?
I ask because I was a witness to the final days of the Vancouver Grizzlies. For three years, I "covered" the team for a small local paper, meaning I was courtside at nearly every game. With the woeful product before us less than enthralling, I usually spent as much time looking at the crowd as I did at the court.
After Michael Heisley bought the team it became obvious that something drastic had happened. Attendance in the arena dropped precipitously, and rumors began spreading that the previous ownership group had been giving away hundreds of tickets to boost attendance, and that they were inflating that artificially boosted attendance to boot.
I bring this up because the easiest way to determine if an NBA team is struggling is to look at the upper rafters. If there are massive sections of empty seats, well, things aren't going so well in that town.
And that, dear readers, is where bloggers come in. To many, the one asset bloggers lack is access. But that's only true if you look at it from the perspective of a traditional media member, who can speak with the coach, GM, players, trainers, and anyone else he/she desires.
Bloggers, however, do have a type of access the local media does not - freedom. Because we're not obligated to report on anything in particular, we can look at bigger pictures. And no picture right now is more important than the one taking place at arenas across the country.
What I'd like to have happen is to see bloggers - and their readers - start taking pictures of the stands during games. With the proclivity of camera phones these days, everyone is a walking photographer, so there's no excuse for us not to start documenting what's happening.
If you're in Philly, take a photo of the empty seats. If you're in Memphis, start snapping shots of empty seats. If you're able to get something good, email it to me at supersonicsoul AT hotmail.com, and I'll start posting them on our website.
Ideally, we could create a flickr-type presentation, but I'll let those more savvy than me get into that sort of thing.
For the time being, though, I'll try to post the best of shot of the day on our website every day, with the corresponding "attendance" figures for that game given to us by the NBA.
If nothing else, it beats me writing yet another story about Aubrey McClendon.