Tuesday, October 30, 2007
A little stroll down memory lane for this version of the TerryLyons.com blog.
The last time an NBA regular season opened without yours truly in his PR role, PR chair at 645 Fifth Avenue or working some exotic outpost for the NBA season opener in Yokohama or Tokyo, Japan was October 11, 1980 when the "expansion" Dallas Mavericks were opening up the brand new $27 million Reunion Arena in Dallas.
The Mavericks upset the San Antonio Spurs with George "Iceman" Gervin, 103-92 in the new arena - which has already been replaced by the fabulous American Airlines Arena. Abdul Jelani scored the first Mavericks points and Tom LaGarde led the team with 19 points and 12 rebounds that night.
The NBA season opened a couple of weeks earlier in those days and would later be moved to a late October or November start to avoid conflict with MLB's World Series while also forcing the NBA Finals to avoid the all-important May sweeps period on TV, thus allowing the league to avoid Sunday-to-Thursday gaps in the Finals schedule.
The Mavericks, by the way, were awarded an expansion franchise for a whopping $12 million expansion fee. Team owner Donald Carter and GM Norm Sonju were the team architects while Dick Motta was the expansion team's first head coach.
Things have changed a bit since then? NBA teams now go for some $400 million and a new arena, then $27 mil would now go for some $380 million in itself, as evidenced by the new "Prudential Center" in Newark, NJ.
The Mavericks were the NBA's 23rd team, and the league would further expand to 25 (Charlotte-now New Orleans & Miami), 27 (Minnesota & Orlando), then Toronto and Vancouver-now Memphis and finally, back to Charlotte (the Bobcats, not the Hornets) to total 30 teams. Also airing the time, the league went from broadcasting its games to two international outposts to some 215 via 112 broadcasters.
Other interesting changes since then? Circa 1980 Mavericks assistant PR man, Kevin Sullivan, has worked his way from doing game notes and team PR chores to a West Wing office as Director of Communications, reporting to the POTUS.
Oh, how the times have changed?
More to come on this post as the day moves on and other thoughts come to mind...