Earlier this month, RidiculousUpside.com provided its readers and basketball fans alike with an unique look at what the minor league basketball culture in Santa Cruz with the Warriors is like. Currently in their second season in town, the (operated and owned by Golden State) D-League team continues to cement itself as a mainstay in the community while furthering its relationship with fans.
Needless to say, such a progression is evident, and we enjoyed getting a closer look at it all.
All the way across the country, the Maine Red Claws have something rather established in their side of town. Now in their fifth season, the team has loyal fans who have been around since day one for the whole ride. The Red Claws are the community's team, and such fans enjoy being a part of things and getting to know the players as they continue their own respective climbs to the NBA.
The team's connection to the town and their influence throughout is increasingly prevalent. As businesses attempt to engage, the favorite local spot Portland Pie offers "The Red Claws Pie," and a nearby bar, Gritty McDuff's, offers a "Red Claws Ale," the D-League's only team-affiliated beer.
All of this pertains to satisfying a hungry community with family-friendly entertainment and fun competition, all the while running a local business that the staff itself can take pride in.
Things are a little different on the basketball side of things in this hybrid relationship between the Red Claws and Celtics. Whereas Maine's staff is focused on the business side, they can appreciate the time and attention the Celtics provide while overlooking basketball operations.
Everyone around gets excited when Boston assigns a player to town. Four players (including the rehabbing Rajon Rondo, and Vítor Faverani, who loved every second of his D-League experience) have been assigned this season. The fans treat such players as if they were part of their own family, much like they do with all of the Red Claws' other resident studs.
Taking it all in, RidiculousUpside.com spent a few days in Maine to get a feel for their own respective culture as well. In the days to follow, we'll have interviews with a talented backcourt that includes Abdul Gaddy and Frank Gaines, the team's coaches, a recent acquisition straight from the Ukraine, and an NBA veteran, as well as a step by step journal of our journey along the way.