Jenni Carlson: Dancers, mascots replace players on NBA websites

by Jenni Carlson Published: July 4, 2011
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There are hundreds of reasons that this NBA lockout needs to end sooner rather than later.

But in these scorching summer days when the start of the season seems far off and the threat of lost games feels remote still, one reason for ending this lockout has skyrocket to the top of my list.

Dance teams.

Check out any team's website, including the Thunder's, and you'll see that dance teams have taken over. Tryouts. Camps. Trips. All of it is front-page news these days.

And the teams that don't have their dance teams front and center instead feature mascots or coaches or stoic pictures of NBA Commissioner David Stern.

I mean, I love mascots as much as the next gal, but is this the kind of NBA world we want to live in?

Since last week when the current collective bargaining agreement ended without a new deal and the teams locked out their players, there are ties that had to have been cut. Players can't workout at team facilities. Coaches can't contact players. Contracts can't be negotiated.

But removing players from websites and replacing them with dancing girls?

As near as anyone can tell, neither the NBA nor its teams have any compelling reason to do that. Not legally anyway. It's likely a symbolic move, a thumb of the nose to the players. It's the league and the owners saying, “We aren't going to promote you during the lockout.”

Among the headlining items you'll find from around the league: the Pistons holding a yacht party for season ticket holders, training tips with Magic strength and conditioning coach Joe Rogowski and the Colorado governor signing a bill authorizing Nuggets license plates.

Is it stuff that would've been mentioned before? Probably.

Would it have been headline worthy? Eh.

All of this is a reminder that the players make the league. They draw the fans. They drive the brand.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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