For the last week, people around town, knowing my love for hockey, have been congratulating me over the news that the NHL is selling out more arenas than the NBA.
Fifteen NHL markets, including Detroit, are playing in front of sold-out home crowds, which compares to eight markets in the NBA.
Through 19 home games, the Pistons rank 26th in home attendance, averaging 14,409 fans. The Wings are at the top of the NHL’s home-attendance figures, averaging 23,780 fans through 23 home games.
The Winter Classic is considered a home game for the Red Wings, which is why their home-attendance figure is askew. Instead of 100-percent capacity, the Wings are at 118.5 percent.
Because of these attendance figures, the assumption is that the NHL has finally turned the corner and will morph into a legitimate national sport in the United States, instead of a regional one.
That would be tremendous for hockey, which will always have a hardcore audience and really should continue to grow.
With the success of the Winter Classic and the evolution of USA Hockey, the sport is certainly enjoying a resurgence in popularity.
American hockey players in the NHL hail from all over the country. The current U.S. Olympic roster has players from seven states, which is a marked improvement from when they almost all came from the three M’s: Michigan, Minnesota and Massachusetts.
The development program in Ann Arbor has created a national identity for USA Hockey, and most Americans in the NHL and on our Olympic team are from that program.
Also, hockey’s violent nature appeals to a key demographic, males 18 to 34 years old. It’s a fast game that allows fighting — a real-life video game played on ice.
Hockey’s gain isn’t necessarily the NBA’s loss.
But hockey’s gain isn’t necessarily the NBA’s loss.
Basketball is a great game in its own right. The athleticism displayed on the hardwood is staggering. Basketball players are some of the most gifted and talented athletes in the world.
From the days of Dave Bing right up to Andre Drummond, I have always been a huge fan of the Pistons. Even as trying as it is to embrace a sub-.500 team right now, the game itself remains captivating to me.
But something needs to change, and it’s not the game. It’s the perception of the NBA players.
This has nothing to do with players getting into trouble or flashing their riches around town. Some athletes find trouble regardless of their sport, and they’re all wealthy.
My concern is, the NBA is too buddy-buddy. At the end of most games, there’s an on-court love fest between opposing players.
I realize that you’re all part of an exclusive fraternity, but the NBA is not a frat party. A little animosity is good for the competition.
During last week’s NFL playoffs, how many times did the announcers say, "These teams really don’t like one another?" I wasn’t counting, but it was a lot.
That statement is beautiful music to the ears of a sports fans.
I’m not proposing a game where fistfights and cheap shots are the norm. I just want more of an attitude of "I want to win, you’re standing in my way, so you have to be taken down."
Perhaps I’m a relic from the Bad Boys era — still fixated on the Pistons-Celtics and Piston-Bulls confrontations. The competition was intense, and the play was terrific. It was magnificent theater.
Today’s NBA — with its buddy-buddy atmosphere and select few star-stacked teams (please go back to the Cavs, LeBron) — has been reduced to third-rate melodrama.