Dakota Wizards Blessed with Thabeet Media Storm, Use Opportunity to Crap on Bismarck

D-League supporter and RU contributor Aisander D is back!  I saw the article and had similar feelings to what he's written. However, since I was born and raised in Bismarck, people may have though I was being a little biased about my hometown, and thus didn't write the story.  After seeing Carlson's quotes excerpted on HoopsHype this morning, though, I'm glad Aisander, hailing from North Carolina and not North Dakota, stood up for us rach-folk up here on the moon. -- Scott

Typically when following the D-League you stumble across a variety of silly or down-right stupid public relations errors and ideas.  Whether it's a press release about a new team van or merely the swindling of an entire fanbase at the cost of one of the greatest players of all time, the D-League is never short of unintentional comedy.  Oh, hi there Brandt Andersen, didn't see you lurking behind that fake Michael Jordan.

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But sometimes, even the most well intentioned PR strategies can afflict damaging and negative outcomes for a community and an organization.  For instance, just take every single thing that Ryan Carlson said in this recent Memphis Commercial Appeal article about Hasheem Thabeet's assignment to the Dakota Wizards:

But Ryan Carlson, the Wizards’ first-year director of media relations, said he already has felt the Thabeet effect. As of Monday afternoon, he had heard from about 40 friends – folks who are not avid fans – who were interested in tickets to tonight’s game. And Bismarck (pop. 58,333) was buzzing as much as Bismarck can buzz.

"It’s not that big of a town," Carlson said. "It’s pretty small and pretty quiet. So when a 7-3 guy from Tanzania shows up, it’s something different."

Some geography: Bismarck, the state capitol, is about two and a half hours from "anywhere," Carlson said. Fargo and Grand Forks, home to the state’s larger universities, are more than 200 miles to the east. Carlson relocated to Bismarck from Grand Forks, where he attended law school at the University of North Dakota, and he said it was culture shock even for him. So he has a hard time imagining what Thabeet must be thinking.

"It’s almost like an assignment to the moon for these guys," Carlson said. "It’s ranch country. It’s politicians and a lot of ranchers."

Wait....what are you saying Carlson?  Are you taking a dump on the town of Bismarck, ND in an official interview about one of the most closely followed NBA players assigned to the D-League ever?  Awesome job.

Really Ryan, I mean......Really?  Your job is to act as a Public Relations Officer, to represent not only your organization  and the community it relies on to support and sustain it financially, but also the players, coaches, and other people working behind the scenes to make good minor league basketball possible.  So with all of that charged to you, working in what is already a somewhat limited marketing environment and with a stigma surrounding your league as "less-than" it's big brother league, you choose to say all of that.  Again, Awesome job.

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I mean literally everyone else in the Memphis Commercial Appeal article managed to give the type of answers you'd expect to hear from professionals.  Dakota Wizard's head Coach Rory White said all of the things you'd want to hear.

"Hasheem, this is the D-League," Wizards coach Rory White told him. "And in the D-League, you carry your own sneakers."

"[The D-League] can be an eye-opener," White said.

"He’s really impressed us with his shot-blocking ability and his footwork," White said. "He still needs to improve his confidence and getting up and down the floor, but that’s why he’s here. And I think that’s all going to come."

"What both of these guys have to realize is, they’re the measuring sticks to everyone here," White said. "Everyone in this league is saying, ‘Hey, if I can play well against these guys, I can make it in the NBA.’ So they’re going to have to compete. And it’s not going to be easy."

Boom. Exactly.  Nailed it.  As the head coach, White assessed the difficulties for a young player in Thabeet's situation, then he gave an indication of the realities of Thabeet's skill level.  Nice Job.... okay and now you PR guy, Carlson, here's a softball.  Knock it out of the park.

For your consideration, here are five other things you could have said that would have been less damaging:

  • We're really happy to have Hasheem Thabeet and we hope he enjoys his time in Bismarck.
  • I have no idea how to do this job, but I try hard, and we hope Thabeet is happy while he's here.
  • No, I don't know how to spell moron, but I think we have some of the best and longest running fans in the entire D-league here in Bismarck.
  • Hasheem Thabeet is originally from somewhere in Africa? No kidding? Cool.
  • Anything Macho Man said here:

 

Okay, so now let's breakdown the damage here.  Carlson basically said three really dumb things. 

1. Bismarck is a crappy town. No, it's not.  Ever been to the Dakota Zoo? Well I haven't either, but it looks awesome-ish. But besides that, it doesn't send a great impression to the local fans when you paint their long-time hometown as a dump.

2. Bismarck is nothing but Ranchers and Politicians eh? So once you insult the fan's hometown, you jump directly to insulting the fans.  Excellent.  I live in North Carolina, the NC version of something like this would be UNC-Chapel Hill trying to drum up football season ticket sales with a marketing slogan along the lines of "Hey you freaking in-bred rednecks, buy our tickets morons."

3. To NBA players, Bismarck is like the moon.  Want to know how already fickle and anti-D-League NBA GMs will read that?  Bismarck is the moon, your players will not benefit from being uncomfortable in a rinky-dink town.  Great, excellent message to send the big-brother league and your affiliates.  Don't send us your players or use us in any appropriate way.  Also, don't call up anybody, because no one can develop on the moon.

At the end of the day, the D-league isn't perfect, and Bismarck is a small town.  But in order for the D-league to continue to work as well as it does and for Bismarck to maintain the successful long-running basketball team, it takes a lot of positive spin and hard work.  Hasheem Thabeet could be a nice stepping stone for the inclusion of more young NBA players into the D-League and more call-ups of deserving talent moving forward.  Bet let's all agree on one thing: Ryan Carlson, if someone calls you with questions,  JUST SAY NO.

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