Losing Basketball Means Dead Crowds

Even when Gilbert Arenas was healthy and doing his thing, I always felt that crowds at Verizon Center were among the most laid back in the NBA but now that Arenas is out (again) and the Wizards are struggling, the place is dead. Last night, the Wiz lost 98-92 to Portland in front of a crowd of 12,802.

Even as the game came down to the wire, the place was flat and hardly anyone was on their feet. Now, we all know that DC is loaded with folks who aren't from here, the team isn't particularly fun to watch and with the economy struggling, it's easy to understand why some hard-core fans would stay away, but if last night is any indication, it's going to be a long season of playing in front of crowds like last night's.

No buzz.

-If you read today's Post, you may have seen the story I wrote on Eddie Jordan. I had a chance to catch up with Jordan yesterday and he's in good spirits.

With jobs already opening up around the league (Oklahoma City and Toronto so far) and more to come, plan to see Jordan somewhere soon. One place to keep an eye on: Philly. This is pure speculation, but if Mo Cheeks gets in trouble -- the Sixers dropped to 8-11 with a home loss to the Lakers last night -- remember that Jordan has a good relationship with Sixers GM Ed Stefansksi, the former GM of the New Jersey Nets, where Jordan was an assistant for several years.

By Ivan Carter |  December 4, 2008; 8:39 AM ET
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Man, I've compained about 'The Stage' for years. Being in the Verizon Center is like being on stage. Too bright. How the heck can I be expected to go wild and get loud when people on the other side of the arena can clearly see my face? Combine that with the high prices, inordinate numbers of corporate seats sold (guests/families/employees of companies and not REAL fans of the team) and you'll get staid, disinterested crowds who're there because the tickets were free.

Doesn't seem that folks associated with the team understand that not everyone can afford to spend big $$ to go to a game and then shell out $50 for food and drinks. Wizards games are a luxury, not a necessity. Particularly in this recession, it makes little sense to go out in the cold to a game that you can watch in Hi Def at home.

Pros for staying at home:

No line for the bathroom.
Cheap food (better choices, too).
No drinking limit.
Instant replay, pause, slo-mo.
Warmth.
Ability to change the channel if the team is getting blown out.


Pros of going to a game:

Alexandria, Vanessa, Nina, Megan, Jessica, Lyndsay, etc. (Wizard Girls)

That's pretty much it as far as reasons to go.

Posted by: original_mark | December 4, 2008 9:26 AM

Come up to section 415 Row D!!! We're the guys who go nuts whenever McGee gets the ball.

Posted by: timonaylor | December 4, 2008 9:29 AM

Forgot to mention Myra... Whoa mama !

You gotta admit that when Gil was dong his thing (and Larry Hughes, too) the crowds were pretty boisterous. LH would get one good dunk on somebody every few games that would wake everybody up. Since he's been gone, Gil's been firing up the crowd with his long range 3's...when healthy. It's hard to get pumped for jumpshooters like Aj and CB. At least Gil would drive and get the 'and 1'.
JM gets the crowd going, too but he's a work in progress.

Posted by: original_mark | December 4, 2008 9:32 AM

Even with the tumultous season, I think it's a shame that more people don't come out to support this team. They aren't getting crushed night in and night out, they just can't close it out consistently. When Gil comes back things will change. As Caron Butler says "DC STAND UP!"

Posted by: RomulusBeatRemus | December 4, 2008 9:39 AM

It's pretty pathetic fan-wise for DC sports right now. Verizon has always been a low-key atmosphere, but now even the Redskins fans are being outshined at home games. If it weren't for Ovechkin setting the NHL on fire, this city would be dead for sporting events.

I also think that's the main reason the NBA gets it's lackluster rep in comparison to college BBall. 95% of it has nothing to do with the players. It's all about the crowds. Maybe Abe should sponsor a little college crowd to get drunk and rowdy at the games. It's not like he's selling tickets right now anyway.

Posted by: psps23 | December 4, 2008 9:48 AM

Maybe it has something to do with the Post reporters. The last two things I heard about Young were very derogatory.

But look at his stats on 82games.com. And then compare his stats to Arenas after 1500 minutes in the NBA. There is a story here. The Post just doesn't want to report it.

Then how about McGee? Any detailed analysis about how he's been doing against the guys who get all the press like Yao, Howard and Oden? Is there a budding star here, or not?

And for the Post's favorite to bash - Andray Blatche. He runs the court for 3-4 straight times and I don't see any panting. His stats also look pretty good to me. Why harp on the glass being half empty, particularly when it is likely to continue to be filled up from here?

What team in the NBA have three players under 22 with this caliber? There should be some positive vibes here.

Posted by: Izman | December 4, 2008 9:51 AM

I was at the game and respectfully disagree with the reference to the crowd being flat when the game was at the wire. People were on their feet, and clapping in unison for defense. All that said, the league as a whole needs to push back 7 PM start times at least a half hour. I have NBA league pass, and 1st quarter attendance for mid-week games that start at 7 is atrocious for just about every team.

Posted by: tuckerdan | December 4, 2008 9:54 AM

DC sports fans suck as a whole, go to any Skins game to see DC's finest...The Wizards never have broken through to the next level so fans don't get as excited in my opinion and I hesitate from going to games simply because I don't want to blow my cash on watching a probable loss. Now watch on Friday night, 30%+ of the crowd will be wearing Kobe jerseys. Sad days in DC..

http://www.wizardsextreme.com

Posted by: WizardsExtreme | December 4, 2008 10:15 AM

ITS THE ECONOMY........Who can afford these prices i mean if you have kids,you're talking about two hundred bucks thats a lot of cheese in these tough times if the product was worth it, maybe but in their(WIZARDS) current state their are other priorities!!.

Posted by: dargregmag | December 4, 2008 10:24 AM

I go to every home game and the Verizon center is a good place to watch a game. Last night the Wizards did what they do every game, they shoot 15 foot jumpers and no one drives to the basket. With time running out and the Wiz needing a big shot instead of going to Jamison or Butler they passed to the rookie McGee for a 10 foot jumper which he missed badly.

The Trailblazers took it too the Wizards last night, Steve Blake and Brandon Roy continuosly drove to the basket and would either get an easy layup or dish to Oden or someone else for an easy shot.

None of the Wizards are aggressive to the hoop. If they decided to play with some intensity and aggressiveness the crowd would get more into the game.

Posted by: twashlack1 | December 4, 2008 10:35 AM

And the food is really bad, expensive and served by grumpy Aramark people. Bad even by arena standards. Try getting a $4 soft pretzel that doesn't taste like cardboard. The Wizards as an entire organization are cheap cheap cheap. Canning Eddie has FedEx'd the Wizards into a third-rate operation. I wonder if things would improve if Ted Leonsis took over??

Posted by: SteveC28 | December 4, 2008 10:45 AM

it has nothing to do with the economy. if the team was any good, there would be people there. the capitals attendance is way up from last year, averaging over 17,000 fans for each home game, and that is with more expensive ticket prices.

you put a winner on the floor and people will show up. simple as that.

Posted by: coooooooooley | December 4, 2008 10:49 AM

The quieter the fans, the louder the volume on the PA seems. Problem is, it's a vicious cycle: the more the PA/DJ/video guys try to get the crowd pumped up, the less reason for the fans to actually put some effort into cheering, chanting, clapping for themselves. Now the Wiz fans are getting so used to being quiet that you get the "bum-shouting-in-the-library" effect, where one guy yells "put Juan Dixon in" and 2,000 people nervously avert their eyes. (I'm not necessarily in favor of putting Juan Dixon in, but you need a baseline of fan rowdiness and yelling so that 1 guy screaming doesn't embarrass the rest of the section!)

O_M is right that lowering the lights would help, as would walking vendors. Maybe it's time for Abe to give Ficker his old seats!

Posted by: mik_smith1 | December 4, 2008 10:52 AM

make every night $10 college night!

you get good seats for cheap!

the past three wednesday games I've sat in 400 B, 228 B and 229 F last night for 10 bucks each.

Posted by: yukiwith2us | December 4, 2008 11:04 AM

They could bring in some folks to write some Wiz cheers and teach them to the crowd. Put the Wiz dancers up in the bleachers with some real cheers. I'm tired of hearing the lame old "DEFWENSE" tape over the loudspeakers.

Posted by: rickgonz | December 4, 2008 11:20 AM

It's true the crowd participation just blows in the 100 section. Only one factor can change that - Winning. Best NBA games I've ever been to were the Heat v Wiz playoff games. Even though we lost them all, we won games to get there. The crowd was actually in it for a change, and we stood for a good 75% of the games.

Posted by: lameotron | December 4, 2008 11:43 AM

Just RUN and GUN the basketball and it will be GAURANTEED to solve the crowd issue.

LarryInClintonMD.

YEAH!! It's that Simple.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 4, 2008 11:48 AM

Wait the crowd is supposed to do stuff at NBA games? i thought we were just there to buy thigns and be a captive audience for advertisers. Seriously between the lame ass "hype" man, the superbright arena, the nonstop extremely loud p.a. system and the inordinate amount of stupid gimmicks theyve taken the fans out of the game. It's just as bad at fedex (but at least they dont play stuff during playtime).

message to sports leagues. less is more. leave the fans alone and you might get some actual atmosphere (after people wake up from years of conditioned passivity).

Posted by: PindarPushkin | December 4, 2008 11:50 AM

I was at several games last year including the playoff games and the crowds were as rawdy as you can get. Especially when Lebron comes to town so get off our back! Who the heck can cheer when you know how the game is going to end. Come on, give us DC Wiz fans who attends the game a break.

Posted by: ivyleague | December 4, 2008 12:00 PM

I was nosebleeding it last night and like all the games thus far this season the upper bowl was empty the lower bowl scattered with clusters of open areas not just a few here or there and as always the non-fans are there, it was seriously just a collection of college students who must of been from oregon, a lot of blazers fans upstairs, I cheered for the wiz and so did my boy and the usher, felt awkward to be like one of five people i could legitimately hear cheering for the wiz. The reason I decided to ultimately go and forgo watching the wiz and md game simultaneously was to see brandon roy and oden in person and they both showed enough to make seeing the loss worth it, thankfully blake's mojo travelled up the road to comcast and greivis killed. Of note , Blake is having career year with portland while dixon has been a DNP of late with a 3-13 squad, never thought it would pan out like that.

Posted by: bford1kb | December 4, 2008 12:06 PM

Being honest, wherever EJ ends up, I will be very interested in watching how well the team does. I think they will do very well.

Posted by: musicman65000 | December 4, 2008 12:29 PM

I saw some of Jordan's influence on Tabscott near the end of the game. Why in the world would you have Stevenson and AD in the backcourt when you needed important stops and Roy was killing you?????

Where was Juan Dixon or better yet DMac to go out and check Roy??? AD is clearly still hurt, so why is he still trying to play??? You can give those minutes to Juan Dixon.

As hard as I have been on Dee Brown I have to give him some credit because the little dude has now played 2 good games in a row. If you noticed when he was in there he pressured the ball on the perimeter and made it difficult for the Blazers to get into their offensive sets.

Why he was no where to be found in the 4th quarter I do not know. If it was a size issue and Tabscott being afraid he was going to get posted up, so what? Let them do it first and then adjust.

***** Tabscott needs to sit AD down for 10 to 15 games and give his minutes to Juan Dixon. Also, AB's game is coming along; he needs more minutes. But on the flip side he needs to stop trying to be the "iceman" and finger rolling everything and instead start attacking the rim like the "rainman" used to do.....

Posted by: BulletsFever | December 3, 2008 9:49 PM

FREE JUAN DIXON....!!! SIT AD FOR 10 TO 15 GAMES. TABSCOTT SUB OFFENSE FOR DEFENSE IN LAST 2 MINUTES OF THE GAME...!!!!

Posted by: BulletsFever | December 4, 2008 12:39 PM

I've owned 100 level season tickets. Then, they jacked the price of my seats 50% in one year. We didn't renew (so that's two rowdy fans gone!), but we did buy tickets for individual games down in the 100 sections. There are one or two sections that are fun and rowdy (106 is my personal favorite), but there are sections where people are definitely not there to root for the team.

Two years ago my husband almost got in a fist fight with the man sitting in front of us becaue he couldn't stand the cheering coming from his side and back. It was ridiculous. When security came, they told everyone but the man causing the trouble to calm down and even threatened to eject one of the young guys sitting near us.

It sucked the life out of that section really fast.

I'm happy to read the piece on Eddie Jordan--he really is a class act.

Posted by: lindaloulubbock | December 4, 2008 1:00 PM

EJ should forget about a pro job and instead, go coach in college where defense isn't as big of a deal as in college.

Buh bye Gary, hello EJ.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | December 4, 2008 2:24 PM

EJ should forget about a pro job and instead, go coach in college where defense isn't as big of a deal as in the pros.

Buh bye Gary, hello EJ.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | December 4, 2008 2:25 PM

In all honesty, the Wizards crowds are so quiet because the majority of Afican Americans at the game. African Americans dress like they are going to a club when they come to the games they sit there very quite like they are "too cool" to cheer.

Before you call me a racist, take a look for yourself and see how many Black people are in the stands cheering loudly or wearing a Wizards jersey. Only crazy drunk White people are going to make and noise on Wednesday night game.

Posted by: dominic10464 | December 4, 2008 2:36 PM

We have season tickets in the 100 section and never miss games. No matter what the team's record has been over the past three years, people have yelled at us to sit down within the last 2 minutes of close games.

The tickets in front of ours are different people every game. Within the last two weeks, they consisted of a group of girls reading magazines during the game and parents of one of the Wizards Dancers who asked the usher to tell us to be quiet.

Really people, come to the game and do your part.

Posted by: ChinatownExpress | December 4, 2008 2:43 PM

FIRST off, DOMINIC10464 you have to be the biggest idiot in the DC,MARYLAND, VA region. Obviously you dont get to the games often...so people like you, are the reason why the world is like it is today. The games are dead because one, the team is not having a good year so far and also its people like you that cant see past race so its very obvious that you dont cheer and help the wizards feed off of your energy.....but thats the real reason the crowds are dead because instead of you using your negative energy to post on a blog about race try showing up to a game and use that energy to get off of your lazy prejudice behind and make a difference in the phone booth!! But for you, an idiot to make this a race issue about the crowds being into the game......have you not realize that african americans are the ones getting up and dancing making people laugh on the dance cam, doing different things on the camera to get people to lighten up while the wizards are getting pounded on the floor.!!

Posted by: rf2litenva | December 4, 2008 8:53 PM

Pindarpushkin you are totally right on bro!

FREE JUAN DIXON !!!!!!

Posted by: Darnell1 | December 4, 2008 10:42 PM

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