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NBA lockout affects Cleveland State basketball

By Rachel Tuma

November 10, 2011

Due to the NBA lockout occurring, the Vikings men’s basketball coaches and players are looking forward to more fan support in larger numbers. Many fans are wondering if they will be able to see their favorite players on the court. It’s a shame to turn on the TV and wonder whether or not we’ll have the opportunity to see a Cavs game this year.

This drastic effect may be good for college athletics; especially for the Cleveland State men’s basketball team.  With former basketball star Norris Cole in the NBA, it’s likely they will have more fans. The question is, will more people show up for CSU games since they aren’t able to watch the NBA games? 

The Vikings coaches have high hopes for more fans. They each believe they will have a higher fan base than in the previous years.

Associate head coach, Jayson Gee, has many reasons as to why they are expecting more people at their games.  He is very hopeful for this to happen.

“I am hoping that we will get more fans and believe that PEOPLE will want to see some form of basketball,” Gee said. “We realize we need to seize the day with the lockout occurring.”

On a side note, Gee feels that even though he expects more fans to show up, he also believes that it wouldn’t matter much to people.

“There is another part of me that thinks it will not make much difference,” Gee said. “The economy is a factor as well as we are a different product. It’s the NCAA VS. NBA; however I still am optimistic.”

Gee also pointed out several factors as to why he believes the lockout will bring in more fans.  The many reasons were focused on the strength of CSU’s team.

“We have an established product in our 6th season and have experienced a lot of success the last 4 years,” Gee said. “Gary Waters is a proven leader of men, represents the institution in a first class manner, and his student athletes GRADUATE! We have had TWO players in the last 3 years go to the NBA (Norris Cole/Cedric Jackson) and we play an exciting brand of basketball! Fast breaking, pressing, and a stingy half court man to man defense.”

Head coach, Gary Waters, believes the lockout will have an effect, but not too extremely.  The reason behind it is the fact that fans are fans to what they love. They aren’t going to switch to the NCAA when they’ve been watching the NBA for years.

“It may have a small effect, but doubtful that it will have a GREAT impact,” Waters said. “Pro fans are mostly PRO fans.  If you were a college fan, you probably already were coming to see us.”

On the other side, a higher fan base is likely in the eyes of Waters.  He believes the Vikings will get a better show of people based on various reasons. 

“The fan base will be 75% or more because we won 27 games, a Horizon League championship, and had a player drafted in the first round of the NBA,” Waters said.

Assistant coach, Larry DeSimpelare, believes that the longer the lockout is the bigger effect it’ll have on the fans.  Once the NBA starts up again, he has the idea that the fans will go back to their normal routine.

“I think it will have more of an effect the longer the lockout goes,” DeSimpelare said. “Cleveland is a PRO town.  If you are missing NBA basketball, you may be willing to come see some good basketball only a block away.  However, once the NBA is back, I think the fans will filter BACK to the NBA.” 

DeSimpelare focuses on success when he mentions his reasons on why there will be a bigger fan base at CSU.  To him, with a successful team, you earn more fans.

“SUCCESS brings more people.  People like winners,” DeSimpelare said.  “At CSU, we have won.  The NBA Lockout will help a little…maybe a little EARLIER in the season.  But the success of last year and the talented young kids will bring people in.” 

It’s highly likely that the men’s team will get more people to attend their games based on the numerous reasons the coaches stated.  NBA fans are also greatly impacted on the lockout.  It’s hurting most of them, but some of them really don’t care.

NBA viewer, Vince Rosas, had no clue the lockout was occurring.

“I really haven’t followed the NBA this year,” Rosas said. “I didn’t even know there was a lockout until like 2 days ago.”

On the opposite side, NBA fan, Igor Mrdjen, is really upset about the lockout.  He hates the fact that he can’t see them play.

“Since I can’t watch soccer, and the NBA is the next best thing, I am upset,” Mrdjen said.  “I was looking forward to this season.  I’m looking even more forward to the NCAA season now.”

The Vikings have a fifty-fifty split when it comes to reasons why there may or may not be more attendees at their games. According to Coach Gee, the players have been alerted on the idea of a greater fan base either way.

“We have told the players to expect big things in terms of additional fan support,” Gee said. “They all came to CSU with those expectations.”

Despite the silver lining that the college sports fans and officials see in the NBA lockout, they are also sad. They feel that the lockout will not only be not good for basketball overall, but will have a negative impact on the bottom line for cities such as Cleveland.

Coach Gee believes that the lockout is not hurting the right people.  In his viewpoint, it isn’t an issue for the owners or the players.

“I personally feel the lockout is hurting all the wrong people,” Gee said. “The owners will survive since they are mostly billionaires and the players will survive as well with all the money they have received. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough said regarding the ticket takers, local merchants, and other organizations that will suffer from the lockout. I am praying for them.”

Coach Waters is very disappointed in the lockout.  He shares the same upset as the many NBA fans do.

“I am disappointed for the people it really affects, such as ushers, parking, concessions, and local businesses, such as hotels and shops,” Waters said. “This economy and city needs the Cavs to do well.”

As well as Waters, Coach DeSimpelare is let down.  The lockout affects him the same.  The wrong people are facing the consequences.

“I am disappointed,” DeSimpelare said.  “I’m also disappointed for Norris Cole.”

There are plenty of optimistic people leaning on the fact that there will be many more Cleveland State basketball viewers during this hard time for the NBA.  Without the professionals playing, there aren’t too many sports to watch on the television, except for hockey. Basketball is basketball, so why not give it a chance?