The Long Distance Relationship With My New Orleans Hornets

 

Reaching outside of your local market could be a way for small market teams to increase revenue

It sucks when your 8879 miles away from your favorite NBA team. They’ve just lost a game and you have the rest of the day to yourself. You are angry, frustrated and looking for answers. You barely saw the highlights as your Internet connection broke down and all you have is that box score staring at you in the face and the 5 seconds of highlights on Sportscenter that show the other team winning.

This is what it’s like when your on the other side of the planet trying to religiously follow an NBA team. It’s not easy, it’s not too hard, but it really doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

The NBA is founded largely on it’s North American fan-base from each of the 30 cities. Home-town pride is a big thing with people boasting about how their players are better than others.

With an international fan like myself it’s tougher to gloat in any rivalries that are undertaken between cities like Boston and Los Angeles. Oversees we have rivalries between friends when the Cleveland Cavaliers go up against the Memphis Grizzlies. It’s not really conventional, but nothing really ever is with fandom like this.

The internet actually has played a large role in the NBA expanding into the global markets. NBA League Pass Broadband is a godsend to fans like myself. We can watch every NBA game, from start to finish, online for roughly $150. It’s great, it’s probably why my passion for the Hornets has increased to it’s highest level ever.

My Passion

It all started with a logo, a simple, colorful, fun logo. The Hornet logo to me was different, the teal blue was easy on the eyes, but fun to the heart. As a kid I had a basketball that had the old Charlotte Hornets logo on it. I don’t remember where it went, but I’d like to think it moved to New Orleans. As a teenager I invested my time heavily into video games, particularly sports ones.

I played Rugby and Cricket throughout my life, so I was looking for something different. So I picked up a copy of NBA Live 2005, scrolled through the teams and saw that Hornets logo, it was then that I decided that this would be my team. Different, not the norm, but my team.

I remember that 2007-08 season. I remember it not because I got to see Chris Paul dominate the NBA, but because each day, at high school, I’d log on to NBA.com, check the score to see New Orleans winning, yet again. Every week I’d see them win, I’d get a little bit excited because the year before I thought, “Hang on, maybe we can explode onto the scene.” We kept winning and I was immersed. By the end of the regular season I was excited for the playoffs and it went from there. But that was what it was like, I had no idea just how well Chris Paul was playing, all I had was box-scores and daily highlights, this has since changed in recent years.

I’ve never been to a Hornets game (I’ve been to one NBA game between the New York Knicks and Orlando Magic) and would love to go one day. I can imagine the playoff atmosphere at the New Orleans Arena, it would be amazing, but perhaps I’ll never get to see it.

It’s tough being an international fan, sometimes not even the franchises management know’s of their reach. I know quite a few international Hornets fans that wake up in the early hours of the morning, take an early lunch break at 12 to watch them online or do something similar. It’s the passion of these fans that gets severely underrated when we see crowd attendance go down, ownership problems continue and star players whinge about being in a small market.

The Small-Market Expansion

Despite the notion that small markets “fail because they have no reach outside of their small population,” maybe finding reach oversees could be the answer to their problems. Maybe the Hornets take a South American, preseason trip, and do it annually. Maybe they could extend their merchandise operations there offering special deals and apparel. Maybe even thinking on a smaller scale, they could open up the TV market to all of Louisiana, neighboring Arkansas and Mississippi (I do realise these aren’t big basketball markets, but it’s not for a lack of trying, at least offering it on a typical TV deal).

I know it’s tough being a small market franchise, but that’s no excuse not to exploit the international fans and domestic region, after all, never underestimate the power of passion not matter your location. I know it’s likely that no one from New Orleans HQ reads this, knows about this site, knows about fans overseas. But it’s an opportunity they are glancing over when they do their marketing strategies. Sure it might cost a lot to do the afformentioned things, but opening up your TV market has to be a priority. Making sure your brand is not only established, but a valuable asset to the NBA is a must when trying to on-sell it to a local owner.

I know most of these things sounds crazy, but international fans like myself are some of the most passionate out there. We can be exploited, we can be won over, you just need to invest in the right way. It could be the way this organisation transforms itself from a dead-pan to a hot-bed with a wide reach all across the the Southern region and across the globe.

Topics: Gary Chouest, New Orleans Hornets

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  • lucas

    Fantastic article, James. I’m in the same situation as you. I’m a passionate Hornets’ fan and cheer for the team since 1995. I watch all the Hornets’ games by LP too. Here in Brazil, the TV broadcasts only four Hornets’ games in the season. This is very little. I am part of a community of more than 600 adoring fans for this team. I went to New Orleans in 2010, I watched three games and bought several Hornets’ products in the team’s official store. Here in Brazil, I buy online. I try to cooperate as I can. Passion is passion. I will soon launch the blog BRAZILIAN HORNET, in order to further publicize the team to the Brazilian fans who like basketball. Here in Brazil all NBA fans love Chris Paul. The NBA is thinking of getting a game for the Rio de Janeiro, enjoying the city will host the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games. I am a journalist and I am going to use my blog to start a campaign for the Hornets is one of the teams to come here. Brazil is a large and growing market. It would be great for the visibility of our team here in my country. I’ll do what I can to help. And with the greatest satisfaction. Go Hornets!!!

    • http://swarmandsting.com James Grayson

      Great to hear that Lucas. You know with Brazil’s (and more specifically Rio De Janeiro’s) flamboyant culture with vibrant colours and design’s it’s no wonder they are popular in Brazil. In fact the similarities between New Orleans and Rio De Janeiro are striking.

      Again, it could be something worth investing in because expanding your reach oversees could be valuable in the eyes of David Stern. I mean, maybe there’s something their in brand value which makes Stern want to keep the team in New Orleans. Yes, it’s speculative, but it’s no more different than any other rumor that has the team moving.

  • Cris

    James Im another in the same “boat”. I live in Brisbane, Australia. My passion for the Hornets runs deep in my veins, my most favorite team above all sports I watch. I love the Hornets with all my heart. My love affair with the hornets was back in 1992 when I saw a game on TV. A Player in a Hornets jersey who was only 5″3 but had the heart of a lion…Muggsy Bogues, from then on the Hornets were my team. I remember as a young blood hanging around at the local Arcade playing NBA JAM using my favorite players Bogues & LJ. I also havent seen the the Hornets Live but my plan is to get to New Orleans nextseason to see a game at the Hive. Hornets Passion is Global, they are still one of the most popular teams in the league amougst international NBA fans.

    • http://swarmandsting.com James Grayson

      Hey Cris, thanks for the comment. Yes, it’s amazing how video games effectively make fans out of all of us international fans. I think it’s a big reason why the NFL, NBA, NHL and to an extent the MLB have expanded oversees so well.

  • Patrick Clay

    I remember reading that for a while, the Charlotte Hornets were one of the most popular teams overseas… would be awesome if the New Orleans Hornets could re-claim that title. Good read.

    • lucas

      During the 90s, the Charlotte Hornets was a big hit here in Brazil. You saw several young people with coats, jerseys and hats of the team. It was a fever. Me and other young people decided to cheer for the Hornets because of it. That bee with these different colors was a success here. Fashion made ​​and passed. But many fans of that era have become loyal to the team. And I’m one.

    • http://swarmandsting.com James Grayson

      Thanks Patrick for the comment. Yeap, the Hornets do indeed have oversees reach that is very underrated. It’s a tool they need to exploit and any local owner that buys the team needs to expand the brand in such a manner.

  • Theis Hellmann

    Same here! I’m a big Hornets fan from Germany. Thanks to NBA LP and a credit card (which is hard to get in
    Germany for a student with no real regular income),
    this season, for the first time I was able to watch
    Hornets games. Before this year I was in the really same
    situation as James was. I really hope the NBA notices
    that the Hornets have so many more loyal fans all over
    the world who spend their little money just to watch
    their favorite basketball team.
    Germany is full of basketball fans which would love to
    watch NBA games but have no real opportunity. It would at
    least be an improvement if the NBA would broaden the payment possibilities for NBA League Pass. Almost nobody, other than some business man here have credit cards or
    pay by check. Maybe they could accept paypal or cash remittance. Not to think of a TV deal.
    Sorry for my bad English writing skills.

  • nikkoewan

    I’m in the same boat. I love the Hornets. Supported them back in LJ, loved them since Baron Davis. WHAT A RIDE. I hope I can buy the League Pass once i get a job.

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