January 20, 2012 where were you? Jeremy Lin was in Portland, Maine helping the Erie BayHawks get a win over the Maine Red Claws. Lin messed around and got a triple-double that evening, what took place following that performance would be a worldwide phenomenon that reached Beatles-like international popularity. Linsanity.
It was a monumental shift for the NBA D-League in terms of it's relevance not only in the basketball community, but the entire sports landscape. With the spread of Linsanity, the NBA Development League would piggy back off the momentum created, and relish in a calendar year that seemingly opened new doors for the now 11-year old organization.
Linsanity wasn't the only bright spot during 2012 for the D-League, numerous other achievements and moments took place leading up until now, as we start a brand new year anything seems possible regarding the league. Let's take a quick look back at some of the important moments in 2012.
Call-Up Record Falls
In the third week of March 2012, Keith Benson received a Call-Up to the Golden State Warriors, it was the 41st GATORADE Call-Up for the season and broke the previous record of 40 Call-Ups in a season. As we enter 2013, the number of Call-Ups sits at 9, Lazar Hayward being the last player to receive a Call-Up in 2012. The record will be difficult to beat in this calendar year, as last season's lockout increased player movement in terms of Call-Ups.
Assignment Craze Sweeps The League
As we head into 2013, the trend of D-League assignments has made itself known. NBA teams are fully utilizing their ability to assign players an unlimited amount of times, and with the controversial assignment of Royce White to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers just a few days ago, the league broke yet another record as White became the 45th player assigned to the D-League, and 84th assignment to the D-League. This number will increase even more this season, and in the seasons to come under the current setup.
NBA Development Champion Award Created
The Los Angeles D-Fenders lost in the championship series against the Austin Toros last April, but took home a new award in which recognizes the D-League's main purpose. In May, the D-Fenders were awarded the NBA Development Champion Award, which is a new annual award that recognizes the best team that encompasses the NBA D-League's goals of developing players via Call-Ups and assignments.
In fact, there is a scoring system created by the Basketball Rules Committee (BRC), which awards points for Call-Ups and assignments, as well as additional points for duration of a Call-Up. Mainly, it's a great way to recognize teams fulfilling the D-League's main purpose and connection with the NBA.
New Single Affiliations Created
By June of last year, two new single affiliations were established bumping the number to 11 teams to have 'One-to-One' relationships. The Idaho Stampede and Maine Red Claws formed "hybrid single-affiliations" with their respective NBA affiliate teams (Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics). Who will be next? It was reported that they Philadelphia 76ers were interested in setting up a single affiliation with a D-League team, perhaps in 2013 the number of teams with 'One-to-One' relationships will increase?
International Coaching Hires
Eduardo Najera (Texas Legends) and Darko Rajakovic (Tulsa 66ers) were both hired to take on head coaching duties in the D-League. Najera, is the first Mexican-born head coach to either coach in the D-League or the NBA, and Rajakovic is the first ever European-born coach ever to guide a D-League team as a head coach. As the league continues to grow it's popularity internationally, the hirings of both Najera and Rajakovic are important benchmarks for the league to build upon going forward.
T.V. Deals And Social Media Growth
What good is it to have a product, but no way of broadcasting it to the world? The NBA D-League made huge strides in increasing the brand of the NBADL in 2012. Games are now presented on the D-League's YouTube channel, fans can now watch up to 350 live games this season. Complete game archives also exist and create an opportunity for fans to catch action they may have missed. The deal was announced in November, and is an indicator that large companies are looking to invest in the league.
CBS Sports Network also agreed to provide NBA D-League coverage in 2012, however, the first televised game on the network will take place January 7 of this year.
In terms of social media growth, Twitter remains an excellent source of information for both teams and players inthe NBA D-League. In Sioux Falls, the Skyforce organization held a Social Media Night when they hosted the Maine Red Claws December 28. Player's Twitter handles graced the back of their jerseys, and both Twitter and Facebook were utilized in prize giveaways, even Mr. Social Media himself (ESPN's Darren Rovell) tweeted about the event.
2012 was one for the ages for the NBA D-League, and as we enter 2013, the league will undoubtedly continue to build off the success it has created for itself.