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[Tvt News]The NBA Finals Moment That Is Modern Pro Sports in a Microcosm

Photo: Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

In the midst of all the madness of the NBA Finals — the endless subplots, the gloriously lunatic Raptors fans, the KD return and devastating injury — it has been easy to forget the one moment, so far anyway, that I’ll always think of when I reflect on this series. It might just sum up the pro-sports industry in the year 2019, and it might just explain everything.

It has been a week since it happened, so try to recall your outrage. Because it was truly outrageous.

#NBAFinals #GSWvsTOR pic.twitter.com/DddqH886KP

— SBR Sports Picks (@SBRSportsPicks) June 6, 2019

pic.twitter.com/fQdfNsl44t

— Jasmine (@JasmineLWatkins) February 14, 2019

Lowry handled the incident about as well as a human being could and acknowledged the next day how much of a shitshow it would’ve been if he hadn’t. But I can’t get past that initial idea: A man sitting and watching a game reacts to a player leaping to save a ball by getting angry at the player. This is like screaming at the pilot because your ears popping in flight, or screaming at an actor in a Broadway play because the concession stand doesn’t have your favorite licorice.

hose Fan Experience surveys that rate stadiums on how well they cater to the average fan are missing the point: Nobody cares about the average fan. Industry estimates show that 70 to 80 percent of ticket revenue comes from the first 15 to 20 rows, and the industry trend is to limit capacity in order to maximize the money from the premium spots.The rich dudes (and they’re almost always dudes, of course) down low are where the real money is made.

exclusive stadium-seat licenses for $100,000 a seat, which gives you access to your own clubhouse that no one else in the stadium can even see inside. The University of Georgia just announced that it will sell alcohol at its football games … but only to fans who give the university $25,000. (Even with that, you can only drink the booze in a specific section that does not have views of the field.) Yankee Stadium was constructed with a concrete moat built in to separate the fat cats from the outer-borough riffraff; the only way to get from the upper deck to those lower-level seats is to jump. The industry term is “social gathering space.” Perhaps inevitably, one team in Australia actually offers the ability to look into a team’s locker room pregame. As Ed Zitron, who sat in the Warriors’ “Mezzanine Club” for Game Four of the finals, a place that costs $22,000 a year just to enter, put it in Deadspin: “It was a sterile, gated-community way to watch a game — a way to be a ‘real fan’ without having to sit next to the proles. It was, to be fair, also a notably nice, relaxed experience; prime rib is delicious. But it was unmistakably a corporate setting. These seats cost about the same as those in the Sideline Club, which made buying these instead akin to saying that you want to be at the NBA Finals, and to say that you were there, without any of the troublesome basketball shit.”

a child was struck at an Astros game — and a woman was killed at a Dodgers game last year — many teams have dragged their feet in complying with an MLB order to extend netting from both ends of the dugout to 70 feet from the plate. Why? As the Times put it: “Some teams held out, reluctant to alienate fans in expensive lower-level seats.” That’s the premium experience, and it’s closer than ever: That same story notes that a study shows that fans are “21 percent closer to the action than they were 100 years ago.” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed that there won’t be more netting added this season, saying, “We do have fans that are vocal about the fact that they don’t want to sit behind nets.” Those aren’t the fans in the upper decks being vocal.

“Bunker Suites” at the Warriors’ new Chase Center that opens in San Francisco next year. Those cost $2 million and actually come with a butler. You can’t see the court from those seats either. That’s probably for the best. After all, Mark Stevens will be able to afford those suites more easily than Kyle Lowry will.

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