Outdoor NBA basketball could be coming to a court near you. Inspired by the MLB game “Field of Dreams” and the various NHL outdoor games, NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Strategy and Analysis Evan Wasch has confirmed that the league is exploring the game. idea of NBA outdoor games.
“We have explored it and will continue to talk about it,” Wasch said on The crossed podcast. “Obviously, the game ‘Field of Dreams’ was incredibly successful. So, no surprise that this has sparked some discussion, and it’s worth exploring. But the logistical challenges of an away basketball game are much more than a baseball game, which, of course, is already away. “
While there isn’t a timeline for when, or if, we’d see outdoor basketball, it wouldn’t be the first time the NBA has left the arena for a night. However, they would definitely want any new event to surpass what happened when the league first emerged from the modern era.
The Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets played an outdoor exhibition game in 2008
In February 2008, just a month after the NHL’s first “Winter Classic”, the NBA announced that the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets would be playing an outdoor exhibition game. The game would be played on October 11 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indians Wells, California.
“What happens here will be historic,” Suns President and COO Rick Welts said at the time of the announcement. “Most importantly, I think it will be a lot of fun. Most of us have learned to play basketball outside. It had the perfect circumstances to do it in the NBA.
Welts gave two main reasons why the event would work; the location and the weather. The 16,000-seat stadium, built for tennis, offered a more intimate view of the court. Meanwhile, the hot weather in Indian Wells in October was one reason the league accepted this game.
It wasn’t the first away game in NBA history. The Suns faced the Milwaukee Bucks at a baseball stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 24, 1972. However, weather issues prevented the league from revisiting outdoor basketball, which it turned out to be. be a problem 36 years later.
A cold windy night ruined the game
Performing in front of more than 16,000 fans as well as a nationwide television audience, the Suns and Nuggets kicked off at 7:00 p.m. local time. From there it was a shivering mess.
When the game started, the temperature was around 70 degrees. While the rain never became a factor – the game was in the wilderness, after all – the wind was. A constant breeze lingered throughout, bringing the temperature down over time. By the time the game reached the fourth quarter, it was 64 degrees with wind gusts of 15 mph, conditions no NBA player would be used to.
“I don’t think anyone expected it to be this cold in here,” Suns goalie Steve Nash said. “It was like Edmonton, Alta., Not Palm Springs.”
“If it was a hot wind, it probably wouldn’t have been so [difficult]Nuggets coach George Karl said. The longtime coach also mentioned the issues some of his players have had with traction on the pitch.
Suns center Shaquille O’Neal also shared his thoughts (h / t: ESPN):
“It was colder than fucking shit over there. And you can quote me on that.
Besides everyone’s cold, the quality of the basketball was poor. Denver won the game 77-72, as both teams shot less than 40 percent from the field and a combined 3 for 27 of three. Free throws were even a problem, as the Nuggets won the game despite missing 20 of their 38 attempts from the charity strip.
The game also lacked the star power needed to overcome a bad game under bad conditions. While Nash and O’Neal were playing, the Suns were missing Amare Stoudemire and Leandro Barbosa. Worse yet, the Nuggets were starved of Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson due to injury.
Despite unsuccessful game, NBA considers return to the great outdoors
The cold night in the California desert was not enough to keep the NBA away from another outdoor game. The following year, the Suns returned to Indian Wells, losing to the Golden State Warriors 104-101 on a warmer, calmer evening. Then, in 2010, Phoenix beat the Dallas Mavericks 98-90 in over 90 degree heat.
If the 2008 fiasco was not enough to push the league back, their interest in bringing it back is real. And several owners, including the Mavericks’ Mark Cuban, have long expressed their desire to be part of an outdoor experience.
“I’ve been trying to get permission to do a charity tour in late September for years,” Cuban said in 2008. “NBA cities to build the popularity of the game. Although we have managed to grow the popularity of the game in the around the world, the same efforts across the country would benefit the NBA as much, if not more. How much fun would it be to play in front of 50,000 to 100,000 people and build marketing momentum ahead of the season? Hopefully the Phoenix game will be a first step.
Whether it’s preseason or regular season, it looks like the NBA is more likely to have an away game again than not. But for the sake of the players, coaches, media, and fans, just make sure everyone is toasty.
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