Kobe Bryant and LeBron James were recently announced as finalists for the U.S. Olympic basketball team to compete in this summer’s Olympic Games in London, but the news has not done much for their NBA teams’ sales.
The preliminary roster, announced on January 16, includes 18 players who participated in either the gold-medal willing 2008 squad or the 2010 World Championship team. There is little doubt that the powerhouse lineup will repeat the stellar performances of past championships, with coach Mike Krzyzewski (coach for the 2008 and 2010 teams) telling the AP on Monday, “This will be the most talented of the three teams that I’ve had the opportunity to coach.”
Team USA finalists also include Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks and Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, both of whom played alongside Bryant and James on the 2008 Olympic team. Lamar Odom of the Dallas Mavericks and Chauncey Billups of the LA Clippers join Team USA on the heels of their success with the World Championship team.
The initial list had to be completed earlier than usual to allow all finalists to participate in drug testing approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The final roster of twelve players plus six alternates will be culled from the group in June, just one month before the start of the 2012 Games.
With NBA Finals pushed back in this lockout-delayed season, the IOC’s schedule has made it impossible to hold a tryout camp to get to the group of twelve. So, Coach K and USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo will have to base their decisions largely on finalists’ NBA play for the remainder of the season.
However, if the Lakers or the Heat hoped that news of their star players being selected for Team USA would increase fan interest in attending games, they would be disappointed.
Will Flaherty, director of communications at ticket search engine SeatGeek.com, reports that the website has not seen any significant movement in sales since the Team USA announcement. “From what we’re seeing,” notes Flaherty, “it’s unlikely that there was any noticeable bump on secondary markets due to the Olympic team announcement for these two players.”
He continued, “From our experience, we’ve noticed that by and large, the ticket prices fluctuate most noticeably when teams go on winning or losing streaks, or if there is a spate of marquee games coming up against popular opponents.”
Sellers on the secondary market are seeing similar trends. Jason Berger, president of AllShows.com, has reviewed sales for the teams since the announcement and has seen no significant increase in sales. Leor Zahavi, owner of AdmitOne.com, reported no “significant change in activity for either the Lakers or the Heat.”
In fact, SeatGeek’s figures reflect a drop-off in price for Heat tickets since the announcement, from about $135 down to about $102, suggesting that there is no real correlation between the news and fan enthusiasm for the team.
Flaherty suggests a theory about why no change is to be seen: “As both Kobe and LeBron are cornerstone members of the Olympic team, it’s likely that fans already expected them to be named to the national team and therefore didn’t feel any more enthused to see their stars as a result of the announcement than they were prior to it.”