It’s a first for a Crossing Streams podcast guest– this guy is going places: Sixers (and Devils) CEO Scott O’Neil will ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ MarketSite on Monday. The ceremonial bell ringing will be done as the Sixers “formally tip-off their new Patriot Partners platform along with the corporate partners who comprise its inaugural class: partypoker, DraftKings, StubHub and the Rothman Institute at Jefferson.”
The Sixers, by partnering with gambling, daily fantasy, not paying full price for tickets, and joint pain, are showcasing their “commitment to taking intelligent risks and bucking trends as we work daily toward becoming a world-class organization,” according to O’Neil. If jersey ads come in the next few years, expect the Sixers to wear the logo of one of these guys.
Chief Revenue Officer Christopher Heck — whom you only hear from in situations like this — said:
“In less than two years, we have transformed our partnerships from traditional sponsorships to innovative, collaborative efforts among powerhouse brands. These five partners represent the kind of revolutionary platforms and opportunities that define our new business, and that we will continue to create for seasons to come.”
There’s really something to be said for the Sixers here. A couple of years ago (and even now, a little bit) partnering with online gambling, daily fantasy and, to a lesser extent, a ticket resale site would’ve been unheard of. And that’s before we talk about the StubHub logo on the stanchions and the team’s website being fully “presented by” DraftKings. These are smart deals that actively push the Sixers into the next, more progressive NBA era (after the Sixers partnered with DraftKings, so did the Rockets and Celtics, and the league partnered with rival Fan Duel). Combining the efforts of their sponsors for greater reach is also unique (and we guarantee you the sort of thing that allows the Sixers to be the only team for which we get tips from equity researchers). For all the “these are smart businessmen” fear that drives some people to think Joshua Harris and Co. will sell the team for a huge profit in a few years, it’s moves like these that reinforce the notion that the Sixers are doing things differently from top to bottom, and that should the ownership group be in it for the long haul, there’s little doubt they will oversee a successful organization– both on and off the court.
Photo Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
Before the season started, USA Today went out on what seemed like a very sturdy limb to predict an eight-win season for the Sixers. Those eight wins would give the 2014-2015 Sixers the worst record in history (one fewer win than the 1972-1973 Sixers). USA Today was wrong.
The Sixers could still tie the futility record, but with their current record of 9-37, they would have to lose 36 more games, consecutively. Currently, the 9-37 record through 45 games is only the 13th worst all-time. The rest of the Sixers’ season is a pretty easy road too, as they’ll only face 14 teams with a winning percentage currently over .500 (the Knicks are the only team with an easier path, playing 13 above .500 teams). With that, Jerami Grant coming into his own, and JaKarr “intriguing bundle of chaos” Sampson making some impact, the Sixers may even win like … 12 games.
Photo Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
K.J. McDaniels — rookie athletic freak — told CBS Sports that he’s been asked to participate in the dunk contest. McDaniels, who is 21-years-old, says he’s not sure if he’ll do it because he’s more of an in-game dunker and can’t do what he used to do when he had “like, extra bounce.” If this is K.J. without extra bounce, I can’t imagine what he was like with it.
In an effort to maybe catch some of that bounce, a 76-year-old man from Marple is going to walk to tonight’s game against the Raptors. Harold Sampson’s two favorite things are the Sixers and walking (a modern day Walter Mitty, this guy) and since it’s his 76th birthday, he’s gonna walk the 18-miles from Marple-Newtown High School to the Wells Fargo Center for tonight’s game, where he’ll be honored at halftime. This is great and all, but maybe this is just a pity-play so someone will call him an Uber. [Editor’s note: Using code crossingbroad for $20 off first ride.]
And finally, the Sixers’ partners in tank, the Knicks, had a bunch of nationally televised games on their schedule at the beginning of the season. Slowly, TNT and ESPN realized they didn’t want to show really terrible basketball on their networks, so they starting pulling the Knicks’ games from their lineup. But this Super Bowl Sunday, there was some counter-programming going on: ESPN was going to air Knicks vs. Lakers, which seemed great during the season but is now just bad, pathetic basketball. But fear not. If you hate football and just want to watch some other sports on Super Bowl Sunday, you will no longer have to sit through Knicks/Lakers. You can now watch a Chris Paul-hosted celebrity bowling event instead featuring Chris Hardwick and Terrell Owens. Rather than air the Kobe-less Lakers taking on the terrible Knicks, ESPN is airing “celebrities” bowling. Yet, Phil Jackson is a genius.
We (specifically I) try to be a little positive about the Sixers here because we agree with what they’re doing. And in most games, there’s something positive to look at (like Jerami Grant’s eight blocks last night). But for every positive, there are usually seven or eight negatives. Last night was one of the worst. That’s a GIF because NBA.com isn’t friendly with embeddable videos, but here’s what happens in the sequence:
1. K.J. McDaniels gets his shot blocked.
2. Henry Sims grabs rebound.
3. Henry Sims misses layup.
4. K.J. McDaniels misses tip-in.
5. K.J. McDaniels misses another tip-in.
6. Furkan Aldemir grabs rebound.
7. Furkan Aldemir misses layup.
8. Furkan Aldemir falls down.
9. K.J. McDaniels and Henry Sims collaborate on tip-in. It misses.
10. Knicks get rebound.
It was ugly, ugly basketball all around — Carmelo Anthony followed it up with a missed 3-pointer — and the Knicks pulled out the win, putting them only 1.5 games behind the Sixers for fourth in a terribly weak division. We support the Sixers. We like what they’re doing. But it’s rarely pretty.
For real, that’s great.
H/T to readers John and Dan
Forbes’ 2015 NBA franchise evaluations have been released, and the Sixers’ value has grown as their standing in the league has dropped. Last year, the franchise was worth an estimated $469 million, then good enough for 23rd in the league. This time around, they landed in the 27th spot, but their value jumped up to $700 million. Joshua Harris and his well-suited friends bought the team for $287 million in 2011. The team’s revenue was $125 million with an operating income (profit) of $24 million.
The Sixers still sit well-below the average franchise worth of $1.1 billion, which is a huge jump from last year. Forbes‘ Kurt Badenhausen explains:
What do you get when you combine a massive new $24 billion television contract, a nearly six-year bull market in equities creating tremendous wealth, and cheap credit? You get a massive rise in sports franchise values, with the NBA serving as ground zero for the current boom. The average NBA team is now worth $1.1 billion, 74% more than last year. It is the biggest one-year gain since Forbes began valuing teams in the four major U.S. sports leagues in 1998.
The team grows in value as the league grows in value, but some other franchises are growing faster and passing the Sixers. That’s expected. But we’re betting Harris and his other $3,000-suited friends are patting themselves on the back today.
When all of that nonsense “Could the Sixers beat Kentucky?” talk was going on earlier this season, the following was used for arguing the Sixers wouldn’t win that game: “The Sixers aren’t favored in any of their remaining games through the end of the calendar year, and likely won’t be favored in any game after either.” Well, eat that crow, CBS Sports and anyone else who tweeted that, because the Sixers are 1.5 point favorites against the Knicks tonight.
The lowly Knicks — run by the smartest man to ever live — have only six wins to the Sixers’ eight, and had dropped 16-straight before winning their game against the Pelicans. The Sixers, who drop one or two terrible games in a regular pattern (play a good game or get a win, play two or three terrible games, repeat), have lost two-straight. But, really, the Knicks are a total embarrassment to basketball right now and can barely put five NBA-caliber players on the floor. This should be a cakewalk. Or something.
Oh. Well, at least they’re favorites. Together we build.