The NHL lockout stole three months of hockey, including 34 games per team, the Winter Classic, and the 2013 NHL All-Star Game; understandably, it upset many, many hockey fans. When the lockout officially ended, teams went into full fan repair mode, in an attempt to win back all those fans who were sick of players and owners squabbling over money, something both parties had a lot more of than the average fan. Now that the season has been back for a little over a month now, have the fans come back?
The answer is.... yes!
Oh, and the answer kinda is no, too.
Let me explain — unlike the other major sports leagues, the NHL and its franchises are really divided into two classes: the haves and the have-nots. Hockey-crazed fan bases, which include mostly cities in Canada and the Northeast U.S., have returned in full force, filling arenas on a nightly basis. According to ESPN.com's attendance figures, all seven teams located north of the border have 100% attendance or better so far this season. Same goes for major hockey markets including Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit. Some of those have even improved from last season.
The NBA season is more than half way over and, in just a few months, the NBA and its teams have made their fair share of headlines (mostly from the Los Angeles Lakers). This weekend however, the league moves away from all those headlines, and showcases its best players during the 2013 All-Star Game weekend in Houston, TX from February 15-17.
There are plenty of great events taking place for fans heading to the festivities in Houston, including NBA Jam Session, where fans can participate in a slew of basketball activities, and the BBVA Rising Stars Game, which features the leagues best first- and second-year players. For me though, there are four events during the ASG weekend that I look forward to the most: the All-Star Celebrity Game, the Slam Dunk Contest, the 3-point Shootout, and the All-Star Game. Here is a look at each of these events:
All-Star Celebrity Game
The All-Star Celebrity game combines celebs from the world of music, movies, and television, with some legends from both men's and women's basketball. The game usually does not display the highest quality basketball, but it is definitely entertaining. I mean, where else are you going to see Justin Beiber crossover Common?
2013 Participants: Nick Cannon, Ne-Yo, Josh Hutcherson, Usain Bolt, etc.
Last Sunday, hundreds of millions of people tuned into the Super Bowl to watch the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31. This Sunday, it's over. No football. Everyone is just forced back into reality. Since early September, you had something to do every Sunday, but now your schedule has completely opened up. Here are few things to get you through the doldrums of the NFL offseason:
1. Finally get around to doing housework
For the past five months, while Sundays have been dominated by NFL football, the list of chores that need to be done around the house began to add up. Now its time face the consequences. That "honey-do-list" is not going to do itself, even though you hoped that it would.
2. Watch other sports
Yes, football is over, but basketball season is just starting to get good. The NBA season is about halfway over with the All-Star Game just a couple weeks away, and college basketball is about a month away from March Madness. Seems like there should be plenty of basketball excuses you can make to get out of housework.
And then there were four.
This season's NFL playoffs have been among the most riveting in recent memory and that intrigue should continue into this weekend's AFC and NFC conference championship games. Only the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons remain in the hunt to go to Super Bowl XLVII, and each team carries its own set of storylines. So I got to thinking, which of the potential Super Bowl match-ups will make for the best (or at least most interesting) game?
Here is my list: (vote for your favorite below on the right)
#1 - Patriots vs. 49ers
As a Patriots fan myself, it is very difficult to remain objective when looking at potential match-ups, but this one in my opinion would make for the most exciting Super Bowl. The two teams met earlier this year in a game that the Patriots overcame a 31-3 deficit, only to eventually lose 41-34. That game was one of the best of the season, but it isn't what would make this game so enthralling. Patriots QB Tom Brady is looking to cement his legacy as perhaps the greatest quarterback of all-time and win his fourth Super Bowl ring, which would tie him with 49ers legend Joe Montana. Oh and by the way, Brady grew up in the Bay area and was a huge 49ers fan.
In Los Angeles, the Clippers have long been overshadowed by the Lakers, and with good reason. The Lakers have always had the better players, have won more championships (17 to 0) and, in general, have always been the better team. This season however, the Clippers have stepped out of the shadow of the Lake-show and are currently riding a NBA season-high 15 game winning streak, have the best record in the league and perhaps the most electrifying player in the league in Blake Griffin (see video above).
And the fans in LA have taken notice.
So far this season, the average price paid for tickets to Clippers home games listed on TicketNetwork.com has increased by 56% over last season, going from $100 per ticket to $156. The bump in ticket price is not unexpected; Los Angeles loves a winner. What is unexpected though, is how much the Clippers have closed the gap between themselves and the Lakers. Last season, there was a 63% difference in prices per ticket between the Lakers and Clippers; this season, that percentage has dropped to just 14%. Depending on how the remainder of the season plays out, that percentage could decrease even further.
Billy Crystal and Penny Marshall have long been the lone-wolves of celebrity fans for the Clippers, but this season, that has started to change as well. Recently, the entire Kardashian clan was sitting courtside to watch Khloe's hubby Lamar Odom (except Bruce Jenner, who sat hilariously behind them) and then just last night, Justin Bieber sat courtside with Clippers' point guard Chris Paul's son.
The Clips winning-streak won't last forever, but for right now, they are the talk of Los Angeles and the entire NBA.