Attendance Numbers Low At Las Vegas Impact League, Is Anyone Surprised?

Las Vegas is an event city.  What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, they say.  The city is, in essence, an escape from reality.  With more strippers than teachers, can anyone argue?  When the heart of the city has grown up to support what is essentially a transient population, how do you expect to run an unpolished event for diehard fans in a city dedicated to front-runners?  Answer: you don't.

We call it the Impact League because it's easier, but let's not kid ourselves; there's a reason the organizers called it the Impact Competitive Training Series.

Just looking at our own recent D.C. versus L.A. training location that will eventually be called Travelgate or somesuch in our rarefied circle, Vegas is highly accessible to NBA players currently based in L.A.  It can easily offer all the highest-class amenities players are accustomed to while offering the best competition they can expect to face stateside.  Perhaps they were expecting Capitol Punishment-level attention, but that benefited from a weeks-long PR campaign and plenty of trash talk from its stars.

Ben Golliver provided a good read talking about how attendance at the Impact League is demonstrative of the NBA's power, but several quotes from Impact Trainer Joe Abunassar in a recent Sam Amick column demonstrate with fairly comprehensive certainty how the aim of the ICTS was anything but:

"I just think it all fell perfectly because guys are getting tired of the individual workouts," Abunassar said this week. "Even our guys [at his Impact Basketball Academy] who are in the gym training with 20-something guys, they really die for the five-on-five competition every day. ...Their rationale is, 'Hey look, we need to get up and down and what better way to do it than against other really high quality NBA guys?'"

The league will begin in the early afternoon on weekdays, with four games each day and a total of 65 to 70 players likely to cycle through by the time it's over. A limited number of seats will be sold, and it remains to be seen whether the games will be streamed online.

The Impact League was never about providing an alternative to the NBA.  Vegas doesn't have the native population to support it, an advertising campaign never took place, and one of the organizers is on the record from the very beginning confirming players were just wanting to mix it up with some 5-on-5 action.
Rather than some cautionary tale about how the NBA has absolute power in the States, the Impact Competitive Training Series is a cautionary tale for the NBA powers-that-be instead.  The players aren't posturing about wanting to play, and if the lockout continues, everyone who can afford his insurance will be playing somewhere.  And if the leagues overseas stand ready to take advantage, maybe they can swing some domestic coverage like I've been hoping and earn a little market share stateside.  All of this comes back to the NBA, if Stern is able to bring his extremists to heel in time as Ziller is projecting/hoping, then we may have a season.  If not, decertification may become a reality, and players will be voting to reconstitute from all over the world instead of in the NBA's backyard.
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