....Might just be Hamed Haddadi.
That's right. To the fiery depths with Josh Smith, Elton Brand, Amare Stoudamire or Carlos Boozer. No disrespect to Kevin Garnett intended, but the "Big Ticket" might be Hamed Haddadi, as far as Memphis is concerned.
A survey/census shown on City-Data.com reports that there are 245 Iranians in the city limits of Memphis. The category "Other Arabs" equates to 202. These numbers may or may not have to be adjusted for population growth/decrease, but let's just use for my lack of mathematical skills an even number of 400 possible new fans in Memphis alone, and 70.5 MILLION back home in Iran. We will need a clever name to call this possibility, so let us use "The Yao Ming Effect."
Let me begin by saying I am not comparing Memphis' market to Houston. Houston is a bigger, more cosmopolitan city in a bigger, more cosmopolitan state. Houston also has a more significant population, and a larger ethnic enclave as it relates to their foreign star. However, the size difference does not neccessarily mean that there will not be the same effect. When Houston drafted Yao Ming, as they were one of the teams Yao preferred to go to due to their sizeable ethnic population, Houston immediately felt the impact. Endorsements here and in China came flooding in, and people wanted to tune in to Rockets games to see this player. Houston games were being broadcast in China just as regularly as we get to see Kobe vs Shaq on Christmas Day. Yao has made the All-Star team by having hundreds of thousands upon more hundreds of thousands of votes, due to support in the US and his team's fans for sure, but it was the other side of the world making a difference. The NBA is big in China now because of this, and now we are seeing more Chinese/regional players trying to make it in the NBA. (Sun Yue, Ha-Seung Jin, etc.)
Wouldn't that be great for the Grizzlies? In no way am I saying that Haddadi will be Yao Ming's equal or better (although I hope noone crosses up Haddadi like this or Haddadi can at least get a shot off against a midget. ) However, what I am saying is we can expand our market, seeing as how right now we're having difficulties expanding our market out to Desoto, Crittenton, Tipton, Fayette, Madison County and the like. We will have an entire country, along with Spain for Marc Gasol, and Serbia for Darko Milicic joining the Grizzly market. It may very well be the Grizzlies turn to lead the NBA into global expansion, and Haddadi will lead the way for players in his home country to come to the NBA. I think it would be a feather in the Grizzlies cap.
Let's close by talking about the ticket sales. Let's be frank. I highly doubt people from Iran are going to fly to Memphis to go to a game. Buying merchandise on NBA.com, yes. Spreading the word, yes. Flying into Memphis? Not so much. We do not have a large Iranian population, but with ticket sales they way they are rumored to be, 400 new season ticket holders, or 400 more people as a television audience could go a long way into either filling up the Forum and getting more people to come to games because it looks more full and fun, or it could justify the televising of more games due to higher demand. Either or would be great, although I'd prefer the first. Finally, without getting sappy or too political, I think it would be great for the city to have such diversity at the games. Everyone of any race and age could be in the same place, even for just 2 and a half hours, and share something together, even for that one moment....they're all on the same team...which is how it should be.
Warning: Hamed Haddadi does not actually cure war and ensure world peace. He just dribbles a ball, and hopefully will be good. God, do we need help at the 5 spot. Help us Hamed Haddadi, you're our only hope.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
....Might just be Hamed Haddadi.