When the NBA released the scheduled on Wednesday evening for the NBA regular season, some of the first things that people looked at of course were key match-ups, back to backs, long road trips, and nationally televised games. Another major event on the schedule to fans here, that support the Grizzlies as well as the city of Memphis is the Annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration which started here in as a recognized event by the NBA in 2002. Even though the NBA has had a long history of playing games on MLK, making it a league wide event was the brain child of Andy Dolich, former Grizzlies President Of Business Operations. The annual event as we know has consisted of high school games, a parade, the Sports Legacy Symposium and of course the Grizzlies matched up against an opponent as a part of their regular season schedule. The Grizz, over the years unfortunately, have been moved from the prime time game on national TV to a mid-day game on NBA TV. A tradition that started here in Memphis and that is truly a great day-long experience has had the spotlight pulled away from Memphis, a city that was not only pivotal to the civil rights movement, but is also the home of the National Civil Rights Museum. The league has chosen to spotlight big market cities on this day that is an off day for many to connect those media markets to the television. In this edition of Noise From The Sain Asylum I will take a quick look at ways that the NBA should make the MLK Day festivities not only a bigger and more relevant event but bring the spotlight back on the city of Memphis.
All Teams That Play on MLK Day Should Be From Cities That Played A Part In The Civil Rights Movement
In my opinion the MLK Day games would feel more authentic if cities like Memphis, Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Chicago were the only teams that played on MLK Day. These cities were vital to the civil rights movement coming to fruition and the spirit of the day shouldn’t be cheapened by having teams play just for market value and television ratings. The NBA is actually doing a much better job of this which is evident in these years schedule that includes Grizzlies vs Mavs, Pistons vs. Hawks, Bulls vs Cavs and Lakers vs Suns, but there should also be more historical content shown to focus more on how those cities were effected by the civil rights movement.
League Wide Incentive Program For Fans That Volunteer To Serve On MLK Day
It is a national tradition for people who are off on MLK Day to volunteer their services to organizations or causes that are in need. What better way for the teams across the NBA to be more of a part of this than to give away free tickets to a future game for people that volunteer in league affiliated sites or organizations. Something like this could be a great success as companies like Disney have done this in the past in exchange for a free day at Disney World.
NBA Can Make The Games Much More Marketable For All Teams Involved
Imagine if for every game on MLK day that the home team wore a special edition black jersey while the road team wore there road colors with additional black highlights. Shoe companies make special color way shoes for the All-Star game, Christmas Day and Black History Month, so MLK day could just be another opportunity to make a profit as well. The black home jerseys, which could be made to sell for all teams that play on that day would sell like hotcakes and some of the proceeds could go towards charity or programs that promote equality and education. I’ve seen home teams, including the Grizz wear black accessories on MLK day but a lot more can be done in my opinion to make this day stand out.
The Sports Legacy Symposium Should Be On Major Network National Television
I attended my first live Sports Legacy Symposium this past seasoned and I was absolutely floored by how amazing it was. I brought a group of students with me from inner city schools and they all were highly impressed by it as well. To hear advocates for change who could relate to their struggles was a great experience for them. The symposium was broadcast nationally on FoxSports last year but I am a firm believer that the oppurtunity to hear legends of sports talk about what it was like as a student, an athlete and as professional both during the civil rights movement as well as today in a still racially effected society should be shown on a bigger station like ESPN or TNT.
The City Of Memphis Should Host TWO MLK Day Games
Not only do I think that Memphis should have it’s game on one of the big boy national tv stations, I also feel like two of the cities should have to play a neutral court game as one of their 41 road games in Memphis on MLK Day as well. I personally like Memphis playing the mid-day game at 2 or 3 but it would be even more amazing and beneficial financially to the city and to the Grizz to have another game tip off at 8 PM from two more NBA teams that may be either close or have transplant citizens here in Memphis like Chicago, New Orleans or Atlanta or a team with a national fanbase like Los Angeles. As a fan of both the Grizzlies as well as the NBA that could be huge.
Well that’s my two cents on how the NBA can improve on what is definitely one of my own personal highlights of NBA Season. The MLK Day experience is one that involves history, service, awareness and tradition and I feel like the things that I noted above can add to this experience.
Follow Anthony Sain on twitter @SainAsylum