Sacramento's other pro basketball team seeks limelight during NBA lockout
By Ed Fletcher
By Ed Fletcher The Sacramento Bee
With the Sacramento Kings sidelined by the National Basketball Association lockout until who knows when, the owner and coach of the capital city's other professional hoops team hopes to capitalize.
Who knew Sactown had a second professional basketball team?
These guys make chump change compared with the out-of-work NBA stars, and they play in a high school gym. But it's basketball good basketball, said Reggie Davis, owner of the Sacramento Heatwave.
"The NBA lockout has been good in many ways," said Davis. "It's opened a window for us."
The team held tryouts Sunday at Sierra College. It plays its first game Nov. 12.
General admission tickets for games at Natomas High School are $10; courtside tickets can be had for $25.
Davis said Heatwave games are a great value whether the NBA is playing or not.
Hopes that an NBA labor agreement was imminent faded last week after players and owners emerged from back-to-back marathon negotiating sessions with a federal mediator without a deal. The league had already canceled the first two weeks of the season.
The Heatwave team has been in Sacramento since December 2006, and plays in the 80-team American Basketball Association. The new ABA is a rebranding of the league that rivaled the NBA before it was absorbed into the NBA in 1976.
While the ABA plucked college stars during its heyday, it now offers a basketball home for college also-rans from small schools or otherwise needing to hone their game.
"Those kids now have a place to go," said Dick Packer, chief operating officer of the league.
While Davis noted that NBA players who play for the ABA will be released from their contract, if or when there is a labor agreement, Packer made it clear his teams aren't paying NBA wages.
He called the NBA business model "materially broken" and "priced out of the marketplace." While people are willing to pay top dollar to see NBA stars, bench players should not be making millions, he said.
He said he's fielded calls from NBA agents, but league teams should be willing to pay out-of-work NBA players a share of the additional revenue they bring in, but not the millions they are seeking.
While short on details, Packer said the league was months from a "shock the world" announcement that would reposition the league taking advantage of the NBA work stoppage.
"I just hope they continue to be dumb for a couple more months," said Packer, brother of famed college announcer Billy Packer.
Packer and Davis both said the league is ready to capitalize on the iconic red, white and blue basketball still associated with the original ABA stars like Julius "Dr. J" Erving and George "Iceman" Gervin. The league bought the rights to the name from the NBA in 2000.
Internal optimism aside, it remains to be seen whether the Heatwave locally or the ABA nationally will have the marketing muscle to grow the league from its current obscurity.
"It (the Heatwave) could be like the River Cats," said Sacramento High men's basketball coach Derek Swafford. "I think they have to market it."
He said they have a good product and a good place for local talent to work on their game in hopes of one day moving on to the NBA.
As for marketing, once told about the team, local political consultant Rob Stutzman had some ideas. Short of bringing in the Kings 2011 first round pick Jimmer Fredette for a tryout, he suggested bringing in some of the Kings of old. Bobby Jackson can still dunk. Pervis Ellison can't be too busy. How about a reunion of the four first-round draft picks from 1990?
"If Anaheim tries to steal them, that might increase fan interest," said Stutzman, who led an Anaheim petition drive aimed at keeping the Kings in Sacramento. "I'm putting Anaheim on notice now, 'hands off.' "
Three of the funnier parts of this article:
"Who knew Sactown had a second professional basketball team?"
"The Heatwave team has been in Sacramento since December 2006"
And then they talk about the team's marketing during the lockout? They've been there for 5 YEARS and the second paragraph tells you how well they market
""I just hope they continue to be dumb for a couple more months," said Packer, brother of famed college announcer Billy Packer. "
We have been saying the same about the ABA for roughly a decade, and they have NEVER disappointed us
"While short on details, Packer said the league was months from a "shock the world" announcement that would reposition the league taking advantage of the NBA work stoppage."
Gee, short on details? That announcement IS their plan. It is always their plan. Throw out random stuff and fail to actually follow-up on it.
Hey, Dick - wanna REALLY shock the world? Try playing all your freakin' games for the first time ever.