5 NBA Teams That Will Benefit from the NHL Lockout
Image courtesy of crossingbroad.com
The NHL cancelled the remainder of preseason games, according to a report from CBS Sports. The looming inevitability of regular-season games being cancelled has hockey fans in a state of depression, and the lockout is sure to have a negative effect on the sport, fans and businesses the longer it lasts.
However, there are a few entities out there who will benefit from hockey's work stoppage, and most of them play in the same cities as NHL teams, sometimes in the same buildings.
With media attention on hockey now firmly fixated on labor dispute developments (or lack thereof), the NBA will have the stage all to itself. If the lockout cancels a full season, basketball is sure to draw the attention of casual hockey fans in the mood for a little team sport.
The lack of competition could mean an increase in ticket sales as working-class fans are no longer forced to decide between the two sporting events. In other cases, where ticket sales will not be as greatly impacted, mere media exposure could be the payoff for basketball.
Here are five specific teams who will turn hockey's loss into their own gain.
New York Knicks
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The New York Knicks don't exactly have trouble filling the seats in Madison Square Garden, so there's no denying that this team, especially with expectations growing in recent years, would be successful no matter what the Rangers, Islanders and Devils are doing.
But what is truly working in the Knicks' favor is the fact that the Rangers are being put on hold right when they have reached hockey's apex. The Blueshirts had the best record in the East and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, and the team only got stronger by adding superstar winger Rick Nash in the offseason.
The Rangers were poised to be Stanley Cup favorites in 2012-13, and with the lockout putting those dreams on the back burner, all eyes in the stands and the media will be focused on the Knicks.
No sports team in New York gets ignored, but the Knicks will spend extra time on the back cover of the New York Post thanks to the NHL lockout.
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Hockey has grown in Washington since the lockout, and for good reason. The Capitals have not only climbed out of the basement of the Eastern Conference, but they possess one of hockey's true superstars.
Alex Ovechkin burst onto the scene after the 2004-05 lockout and, despite a recent downturn in production, is still the sport's biggest rockstar personality. The Caps added nearly 4,000 more fans per game from 2005-06 to 2011-12, according to attendance figures from ESPN.
The Wizards have held relatively steady in that time period in terms of attendance, but with the fans who were bitten by the hockey bug now out of a hobby, basketball could come back strong in the nation's capital. It doesn't hurt that Bradley Beal, the third overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, will be rounding out the roster led by John Wall.
A few extra wins combined with the lack of Caps to draw media attention could result in the Wizards becoming the new team du jour in DC.
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During the last NHL lockout in 2004-05, the Detroit Pistons were first in the league in attendance and tied for third in capacity sold with 100 percent, according to the statistics on ESPN.com. The same statistics last season show the Pistons dead last in capacity.
Granted, the Pistons were a much better team back then, so the correlation is not simply due to the lack of the Red Wings being available for fans. But the Wings' consistent postseason appearances and rich history give Hockeytown, USA its name, and when the Pistons faltered, people stopped paying attention.
Now, the Pistons are on a slow but steady rise back to the .500 mark, and they may catch some extra attention and sell some extra tickets without the Red Wings tearing up the NHL at the Joe.
As Hockeytown searches for a hobby, die-hard fans will turn to small hockey clubs like AHL, ECHL and OHL teams, but more casual fans will gravitate back toward the Pistons, just in time to see the team try to make its first postseason appearance in three years.
Image courtesy of phillysportslive.com
Philadelphia is a huge town for hockey, one of the best in the United States. And Philly fans are notoriously competitive no matter what the sport is, so you can bet the stands will be packed when the fans have a reason.
But basketball in Philly is in the late stages of a rebuilding phase, as the team hasn't had a true, marketable superstar since Allen Iverson. But this summer's blockbuster trade brought in Andrew Bynum, who could be the next big thing in Philly hoops if he can stay healthy.
The team is already on the uptick, having qualified for the playoffs in four of the last five years. They even knocked off the top-ranked Bulls last season and took the Celtics all the way to a seventh game despite being the eighth seed in the East.
If the NHL comes back this year, the Sixers will live in the shadow of Claude Giroux's Flyers. If not, basketball is back in the City of Brotherly Love.
Los Angeles Clippers
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The Clippers have been the awkward little brother to the Los Angeles Lakers since the dawn of time, and 2011-12 was the first time that the Clips actually looked like they could play on the same floor as the Lakers.
Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups put the Clippers on the map and led the team to the best record in team history. The Clippers also won their first-round postseason matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies, only the third time in franchise history the Clips have won a series.
And just when the Clippers had finally made a name for themselves, who comes along and rocks the sports world? Hockey's Los Angeles Kings.
Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown made their names a part of Los Angeles nomenclature, and the Kings bested the Clippers' underdog story by becoming the first eighth seed in any major sport to win a championship.
So, while LA will always be a Laker town, the NHL lockout might be the only reason the Clippers don't remain the least relevant team in the City of Angels. And though a lockout might mean the Kings get an extra year as Cup champions, the Clippers are more than happy to only have to deal with one championship-caliber team in the Staples Center.