Our Michael Waterloo mentioned last week that David Stern listed Pittsburgh on a short list of cities that could possibly see an expansion team in its town. Our fans here at Pittsburgh Sporting News seem to be torn on the subject. But if we put our allegiances to hockey aside, would a professional basketball team succeed in the Steel City?
Personally, I’m not a hockey fan. Now, I know I’m way against the norm here at The Yinzer and most of you probably are instatly closing this article, but hear me out. What do Pittsburgh non-hockey fans have to follow in the winter? Take this year for example. The Steelers weren’t in the playoffs. The Pirates are just now getting Spring Training underway and after last season’s collapse, fans might be wishing it was farther away. So besides the Pens, there’s not really anything to watch. An NBA team could fill that void.
A city that comes to mind when thinking of this is Washington DC. If you ask any Redskins or Wizards fan what frustrates them the most, it’s the Redskins and the Wizards. If you ask any Steelers or Pirates fan what frustrates them the most, I bet the Steelers and the Pirates rank pretty high on that list. Before the Nationals came, DC had been lacking one thing to get them excited again. Last season, the Nationals had their best season yet and fans were going crazy over the Nats and DC pride was being represented all around the country. DC is a city known for its patriotism but when it comes to their fans, the words fair weather get thrown around way too often. From my short time covering Pittsburgh sports, I’ve noticed one thing. TRUE fans are loyal to their team no matter what. Every fan base has those fans who complain no matter what and always want a coach fired or a top player cut but Pittsburgh fans stick by their team, thick and thin. Just look at Pirates fans.
If an NBA team came along, it’d have to compete with three other professional sports. But looking back to the DC example, there were also three professional sports already established there, too, when the Nats came to town. The Nats fanbase grows each and every day. For the non-hockey fans, they’ll have sports all-year round essentially and if you’re a sports fan, it doens’t get any better than that.
This team wouldn’t just be an NBA team for Pittsburgh, but for most of Northern West Virginia as well. You have to remember, the closest thing to a pro team in that part of WV are the Mountaineers. West Virginia fans are passionate and there are plenty of Steelers fans in the Mountain State. I would almost be willing to bet that an NBA team would be a popular thing for people in West Virginia to take part in.
When it comes down to it, the whole thing is a “what if?” situation. The only true way to know if an NBA team would be successful in Pittsburgh is to put it there. Remeber the old saying, “If you build it, they will come?”
Photo Credit: ktgr.com