First let me tell you what happened, then I'll give my thoughts.
Brandt Anderson, owner of the Utah Flash, made a proposal. He contacted Michael Jordan and Bryon Russel and challenged both former NBA players to play one-on-one, and Anderson would donate $100,000 to a charity of the winner's choice.
All went quiet on Western front, but the challenge remained.
Then, on Saturday, Brandt appeared on local news implying a potential match-up between Jordan and Russel was imminent. In fact, he hinted that the one-on-one would take place during Monday night's Flash home opener.
Flash forward to tonight. Monday night, the night of the big game.
Thousands of people flocked to the McKay Events Center, hoping to see the greatest basketball player who ever lived. People were wearing No. 23 jerseys, kids were carrying pens hoping for an autograph and the ticket line went through the door out onto the street.
I know because I was there.
I admit, I bought tickets for tonight's game. My thinking was if this thing really went down I needed to be there.
Well, despite reports that Michael Jordan had been spotted in Orem's Mimi's Cafe, the whole thing turned out to be a hoax. A publicity stunt. During halftime, when the two aged players were supposed to duke it out, Bryon Russell appeared at center court, and the crowd waited anxiously for MJ... only to get an impostor.
Then, after the sham was revealed, the McKay Events Center erupted in boos. People threw garbage onto the court, and hundreds packed the aisles to leave early. No one got to see His Airness tonight; thousands left UVU campus empty and disappointed.
Now my thoughts.
This publicity stunt was at best short-sighted, and at worst sleazy and deceptive. The Utah Flash may have sold more tickets than they ever have before, and they may have broken every attendance record in the books tonight, but the damage they did to their primary public is irreparable.
They violated our trust. They baited-and-switched and swindled the very public that they should have courted. You really think the Utah Flash endeared itself to potential ticket buyers tonight? Nope. They sold themselves out for one big night.
Not only that, but the organization dealt its own Flash players a serious blow. Now the players know no one is really interested in them. They know that their product isn't appealing. They know that the front office needs to resort to parlor tricks to get people in the doors. Way to inspire confidence, there, Brandt.
I know I personally will never, ever buy a ticket to a Utah Flash game ever again, and I'll have nothing but bad things to say when the subject comes up in the future. And I'm guessing I'm not the only one.
This was a bush league stunt by a low-class organization. It was a cheap, desperate ploy to get attention that may have short term success, but will only hurt them in the long run.
I hope it was worth it.