By Ed Odeven
It makes no sense whatsoever for the bj-league to remain silent on the issue of the Tokyo Apache’s hiatus, disappearance or whatever you want to call it. The league office needs to say something of substance on this problem. Simply taking down the team’s logo from its website isn’t enough.
Either the league will help the hopeless franchise actively seek new investors, new money, new leadership and a chance for future stability, or it won’t. But the team has simply gone away, and no one at the league office seems to have the guts to put the issue in perspective.
By not speaking out regularly on the benefit of having a healthy, successful franchise in the league’s and nation’s capital city, the league is hurting its chances of having a future team have the chance of thriving here. (Think of the void the NFL’s loss of the Rams and Raiders has left in Los Angeles, and how it gets harder by the year to get a new team in place there). Similar fate could be in store in Tokyo, where the centers of media, banking, culture and government all converge.
After all, the league approved the stupidest sports schedule in recent history last season, allowing the Apache to not play their first home game until January. (The season started in October, which essentially proved that owner Michael Lerch and his “management” team didn’t care about the team’s fans.)
The Apache pulled out of the league for 2011-12, possibly (probably) forever, in June.
But there are ample sponsors to be found in Tokyo for the Apache (or a team with a better nickname in the great metropolis) — that is, if those in charge have an aggressive, humble, never-give-up approach to it, reaching out to them and doing so in a sensible way.
Bob Hill, who previously guided four NBA teams, leaves the Apache and Japan and Jeremy Tyler, the first player to be drafted from a bj-league team into the NBA, provided a two-month jolt of interest in Tokyo (January until March 11)…
Now, however, the league, it appears, will have zero opportunities to capitalize on these success stories, not with no team in Tokyo (where most media ignored the team anyway).
Sad, very sad, state of affairs.
The future doesn’t have to be this pathetic, though, if a proper plan is in place, with real collaboration between the Tokyo franchise and the league office.
The clock is ticking.