Lamar Odom or how to excite fans with just a signing

Some teams fall into depression when a bad streak creates a climate of uneasiness and takes fans out of the venue. Although they have being loyal during seasons, there is a point where it is not worth attending to matches as now better times are gone and only melancholic memories of a glorious past remain.

Managers need to react and try to involve people again by creating excitement, passion. The objective, to fill again the empty seats.

In that sense, Laboral Kutxa’s CEO Josean Querejeta made a master movement signing the NBA superstar Lamar Odom. Querejeta, one of the smartest sports managers of the world, became Santa for a day and brought a present that no Baskonia fan could imagine. There was no gossip about the signing in the days before and suddenly, fans saw the two NBA tittles winner Lamar Odom landing in Vitoria and turning up for his presentation.

It was absolutely shocking for both the team’s fans and sports lovers from all over the country. “Lamar Odom” was trending toping in Spain and the news sports sections talked about Laboral Kutxa. It was almost a social event, with the city major attending his presentations and receiving him as a political personality.

The team, a serious contender for Euroleague Championship some years ago and used to win trophies in Spain, has suffered a spiral that  brought the team into mediocrity. They have  win nothing since 2010. From then on major teams in Europe signed the best players and due to financial cuts, the Basque team could not sign top-class players. Real Madrid and Barcelona established a bipolar dictatorship and Baskonia lost his high status.

In this season the situation seemed even worse, as they had to struggle hard for getting the Cup quallification, although they only need to be eight, and they are virtually eliminated from the Euroleague, where they have suffered several painful defeats.

In that context of pessimism and uneasiness, with fans booing the team after matches, Josean Querejeta signed Lamar Odom and since he arrived at Victoria, future seems brighter for the team. Fans are now hopeful about the remaining challenges of the team this season and there is no more resignation in the atmosphere surrounding the club.

Florentino Pérez, back in the middle 2000’s,  used this strategy when year after year the great Real Madrid endured disappointing seasons. He signed players like Bechkam, Figo, Michael Owen and more recently Gareth Bale that attracted people back to the stadium, sold out the stars’ t-shirts and in some way made people proud of their team again, despite the lack of tropies.

Sport is about feelings, emotions and mood and some smart CEO’s have discovered that signing a super-stars can turn pessimism, conformism and apathy into hope. And there is no other feeling that fills sport venues more than hope. The hope of watching your team regaining his former glory. That is really exciting.

Odom will debute tonight at 20.45. Laboral Kutxa will face Unicaja in a vital game if they want to keep on fighting for the Euroleague Quarter finals.

Here is a link for the game:


NBA, more than just basketball

The NBA season has started. The worlds biggest sport show began yesterday with the first games and until April thousand of games will be played for one magnificent goal: the ring.

Boston Celtics, Oklahoma Thunders, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers are the favourites to win the NBA, but other teams like Minnesota Timberwolves or Brooklyn Nets has signed up talented players to face the main teams and will also have chances to reach the finals.

The star-system rules opposite the Eurpean basketball, where the payers play for the team more than for their own. In USA teams play for the star-player and if that player is successful, the whole team gets success. In the comparison with the European’s, many basket fans should claim that in the NBA defence intensity is much lower. The team which should play fewer games will play 82, in less than half a year and many times 4 games a week. Fast-food basketball is not fond to everyone but, anyway, we should admit that the show is attractive enough.

Jeremy Lin and his own american dreams was last years most emotive story

NBA is much more than just sport. It’s the mirror of the American society. Attending to a match is an example of the American way of life. Cheerleaders, kiss-cams, hot dogs and any type of fast food, music and that entire show business staff are added to the sportive competition to create a way of entertainment that for many years has been successful in USA and thanks to the TV is been spread all over the world.

The main success of the American league, in my humble opinion, is that you can hardly imagine who would be the winner at the end of the season, even which teams will reach the conference finals.

The salary cap and the equitable distribution of the TV rights allow any team to make a competitive roster and, signing up well, have the chance for fighting for the ring. David Stern, the commissioner, has worked for this idea of a strong league better than strong teams, unlike the European basket or football, where only the wealthy teams, so few, are able to fight for the big competitions.

NBA is much more than basketball and we should enjoy it as it is. The show has just started and will go on until mid-may. So be aware for the highlights with Ibaka’s monster blocks, James and Durant’s incredible shots, Lin and Harden’s leadership to make Houston a play-off team or Brandon Roy’s, Ricky Rubio’s and Derrick Rose’s recoveries after their injuries and their strong battle to win back their place as NBA stars.

For not missing the games add this link to your “favourites and if you live in Europe, remember one thing: Sleeping is for cowards.

Feeling devotion

Currently playing the second games of the Euroleague I must admit that basketball is for me the most amusing sport and even more the European competition. Without the marketing and NBA’s show-business, understanding basketball as it is, Euroleague is the best basketball competition.

To say basketball is to say emotion and magic. The deceased Spanish journalist Andrés Montes summed up in one of his most known phrase: “Here we are, living basketballs magic”.

This year, as usual, the contest will be amazing. Without Kirilenko and taking into account the Greek team’s cut, the victory is able for more candidates. CSKA is still the team to beat, with the best playmakers pair (Teodosic and Aaron Jackson) and probably the best center, Nenad Krstic. Panathinaikos and Olympicacos, leaded by Diamantidis and Spanoulis, will be strong candidates for London’s Final Four. Panathinaikos will miss Obradivic, but signing up Schorchianitis the team makes a step onwards. Olympiacos, having one of the most talented players, Papanikoloau (age 22) is always competitive and a hard team to beat, specially playing at home.

Real Madrid, the most amusing team playing a offensive basketball, that under Pablo Laso’s direction has created a new style inspired in attacking and scoring as many points as possible, is one of the favourites for the win. Rudy Fernández has given then that necessary competitive step forward that make then able to beat the great European teams and their defensive strength.

Other Spanish team, Barcelona, that has played many Final Fours makes me have a doubt about his performance this year. Fran Vazquez and N’Dong have left a hole in the center position of the team and the Navarro-dependence could be fatal for them, taking into account that Navarro is not a lad and if he gets injured there is no other player that can replace him.

Don’t ever forget Fenerbache (with Batiste, Andersen and McCalebb) and Caja Laboral Baskonia (with Nocioni leading young talented players as Namanja Bjelica, Tibor Pleiss, Heurtel or Fabien Causeur). And of course Maccabi Electra, always competitive and taugh.

Take for sure that Euroleague is synonym of show, amazement and magic. Watching The Greek and Turkish supporters filling their courts, absolutely crowded by enthusiastic fans cheering and shouting excites me.  I feel devotion!