What Business Is The NBA In?

It’s been a while since I have updated my post on what business in the NBA is in.Seemed like now is as good a time as any!

Just as it has been for the past 7 or so year, I continue to get business proposals for new ways to alter the NBA in-game experience. Without fail, the proposal starts out with some form of “Today, everyone has a smartphone and can’t disconnect from their phone” Then I get the meat of the pitch which is some derivative of stats, Jumbotron pictures, fantasy games, gamification apps, instagram pics, social sharing, etc, etc.

They all seem to forget what business the NBA is in.

In order to understand why I hate these proposals you have to understand first what the Mavs sell. The NBA does not sell basketball!

Think back to the first professional sporting event you ever went to. It was probably a parent taking you to the game. What do you remember ? Do you remember the score? A home run? A jump shot? A pass play? Or do you remember who you were with? I remember being with my dad at a Pirates game. My dad and my uncle at a Steeler’s game. Think about your fondest memories at a sporting event. Again, what do you remember? Hanging with your buddies? A first date? A last date? How you felt after the team won or loss? A business partner or customer? Or the score? I’m guessing its not the score.

We in the sports business don’t sell the game, we sell unique, emotional experiences.We are not in the business of selling basketball. We are in the business of selling fun. We are in the business of letting you escape. We are experiential entertainment. We are in the business of giving you a chance to create shared experiences. I say it to our people at the Mavs at all time, I want a Mavs game to be more like a great wedding than anything else.

You know the wedding I’m talking about. The one where everyone is up dancing, smiling , cheering, laughing. The one where Grandma Ethel has her annual vodka gimlet and is singing “old town road” at the top of her lungs.The one where the whole place still does the Macarena while laughing so hard they are crying. The one where everyone sings out loud to every song and you hug the cousin you haven’t seen in 10 years and hope you don’t see for another 10. It doesn’t matter if half the room doesn’t believe the couple will still be married at the end of the year. It matters if everyone in the place is having a great time. It matters if its the type of wedding that everyone in the room wished or wishes their wedding was or will be like this one. It matters that you leave the reception and your hands hurt from clapping, your mouth hurts from smiling so much and your throat is sore because you were laughing , singing and hollering so much. That’s a great wedding.

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