Interview: Pat Croce, Commissioner of SlamBall

Without recording capabilities on my cell phone, I was forced to actually write notes by hand. I seriously can’t remember the last time I wrote so much; my chicken scratch has gotten worse over the years, that’s for sure.
This will look a little informal for an interview, but seeing as most of the other attendees were recording and will likely put out a transcript, I thought I’d change it up a bit! Story time!

I joined the conference promptly at 11:00 AM PST and some of the others had already joined. I was fortunate enough to hear a few bleeps on the conference line and realized I was not the last one in!

Other blogs in attendance:

20 Second Timeout (David)
Hoops Addict (Austin)
Fantasy Basketball Pros
Pure Point

(Sara)
From there we waited for Pat to come on while his assistants struggled to connect him. (Isn’t ‘working a conference line’ on their job description?) They reminded us that we had time to each ask one question with one follow up. (OK!)

While on hold, the rest of us bantered a little about SlamBall’s past and what people thought of the sport. Of course most had the same answer, “I saw some of it on TV in clips but never really had a chance to watch an entire game.” (In my dealings with the SlamBall crew, it is definitely understood that the Spike TV deal sucked a%#.) There was also this obnoxious buzz in the background that we figured would go away if we kept talking, but I’m not sure that was really the case. We may have just been drowning it out with our cheese.

And finally, Pat joined!

Sara from Pure Point was up first and asked Pat about the comparisons between SlamBall and the XFL. Probably not the wisest choice as Pat jumped all over her. The first words out of his mouth were, “Are you crazy?!?! There is no comparison!” It was a classic start to my first interview and I had trouble holding in a burst of laughter. He then went into a hilarious rant on the XFL flopping while comparing SlamBall to skateboarding, snowboarding and other extreme sports. (Keep in mind that Pat Croce is the most high energy cat on the planet. Oh, and he doesn’t drink coffee.)

 

 

The second set of questions came from Fantasy Basketball Pros and they asked about the lengthy hiatus for SlamBall and what improvements are in store. Pat expressed his dissatisfaction with Spike TV and the idea that SlamBall is a “made for TV” sport. He went on to say that the backing was not there and now that IMG has taken over, the league is ready to roll again. As for improvements, the league has asked for the help of special basketball consultants to work on plays and strategies to make the game more entertaining and faster paced.
Their follow up had to do with attracting players and the thought of SlamBall as a high injury sport. Pat shut down the high injury portion immediately and stressed on the fact that in order to be a part of SlamBall, the athletes must be in primo-condition. The level of injuries is not that high because these athletes are incredibly well trained before they ever set foot on the court.

 

 

The third set came from David of 20 Second Timeout and he asked about Pat’s past and how he came into SlamBall. (This is foreshadowing!) Pat went into a story about a friend of his telling him he had to check out this new sport he was working with. He checked it out and was blown away by it within seconds. He then decided that if he were to be involved in this new sport, he needed the approval of his 20 something son who is the sport’s targeted audience. Sure enough, his son loved it and that was all Pat needed to sign up.
The follow up was a question about Croce’s duties as the commissioner of the league. The answer was simple and too the point, “Just think of me as David Stern on steroids,” he said.

 

 

Then it was our turn and we were lucky enough to not have anyone ask our questions! (Our pits stopped sweating at this point. Whoo hoo!)
I asked Pat if there was a TV deal in the works or if they would be focusing their efforts toward internet promotion. He said that a TV deal is definitely in the works but they cannot announce it just yet. They’ve had offers but want choose the right option this time. (Another shot at Spike. Love it!) They definitely want a big network but will always remain internet saavy.

I then followed up with a question about live games and whether or not fans would be able to attend. Pat said that for the first season, games could be filmed in L.A., Vegas and possibly New York but locations have not been finalized as of yet. The goal for next year is to be franchised and hopefully have teams in every major city. At that point, fans would be able to attend just like any other sporting event. (I still want to know how I score tickets to a Vegas filming. Brendan?) He also threw in a quick point about Shaq, Kobe and other stars attending games and loving what they saw.

 

 

The fourth set came from Austin of Hoops Addict and he went big picture on us. He asked about the vision for SlamBall, 5 years from now. Pat is definitely thinking big and answered by saying, “The 2012 Olympics!” He also wants to have facilities around the country to allow kids the opportunity to play SlamBall just like they would any other sport.
20 Second Timeout then chimed in with the bomb of all questions and asked about player salaries. Pat sort of tip toed around this one but you can definitely understand why. He did say that during this season, the salaries for all players would be the same across the board. Some of the veterans may receive a little more, but next year when the league becomes franchised it will all be different. Austin tried to grind a little more and get some numbers but Pat wasn’t having it and said to ask Mason Gordon that question. (Mason is the founder of SlamBall.)

 

 

From there, the conversation sort of opened up and anyone who had extra questions was allowed to shout them out. Unfortunately, David of 20 Second Timeout dominated with questions about Pat’s past and the Sixers. You see, David is Mr. Philly and wanted to get the history of the Sixers in our final 2 minutes. Oh well, it was still a great interview. Pat Croce is definitely a man driven by insane amounts of energy. You just start smiling when you talk to a guy like that and that is a great thing for the future of SlamBall.
I’m sure the others will have their versions up soon, so check them out!

Tryouts start this month with the season kicking off in June. We’ll have plenty of updates and interviews on the way, stay tuned!

 

4 Comments

  1. Hey, Austin here from Hoops Addict. I would love to take credit for the salary question but I’ll have to give that to, I believe, Dave from 20 Second Timeout. All in all though, it was a fun interview and I’m loving Croce’s energy.

    Reply
  2. All issues should be fixed.

    Reply
  3. Great job guys/gals.

    Like you, I only watched it a bit on television and didn’t follow it anywhere else. I’m actually looking forward to watching it this season to see what is different about it.

    Reply
  4. I actually attended the conference call and asked the 2nd question about the hiatus, the follow up about injuries and the “bomb” about player salaries.

    ….I’ve obviously yet to write my post about the whole thing.

    Didn’t know it would start a tiff between you and David Friedman.

    Reply

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