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December 07, 1958 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1958-12-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

SUNDAY

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FIGHT CAGE APATHY IN DETROIT:
Pro Team Struggles To Succeed'

By DAVE POJILOD

4

Is basketball a dead sport in
Detroit?
Detroit Piston owner Fred Zoll-
ner must ask himself this same!
question a dozen times every day.
Zollner's problems started two
years ago, when he was taken with
the idea of moving Fort Wayne's
faltering professional basketball
franchise to Detroit, considered
then as well as now as being one
of the most lucrative areas in the
country for sports promotion.
The Red Wings, Lions, and
Tigers have consistently proved
this contention to be true as year
after year they have played before
crowds, which have been finan-
cially rewarding to the respective
owners.
Faithful Followings
Even mediocre or poor seasons
failed to shake the faithful fol-
lowings of these teams. The Tigers
for instance, have had one medi-
ocre season after another for the
past five years and for three of
those years they still managed to
tempt over a million fans through
the turnstiles.
The only thing that stood in the
way of Zollner was the reputa-
tion Detroiter's have picked up
over the years for their apathy
toward professional as well as col-
lege basketball.
During the early 1940's Olym-
pia stadium sports promoters in-
vited the cream of college basket-
ball to play on their hardwood
floor in an attempt to introduce
basketball to Detroit's entertain-
ment-seeking public.
Although they were tempted

NBA's Popularity
Encourages Growth
By TOM WITECKI
will begin play in the '59-'60
Professional basketball organ- season.
ized in the form of the National The new Windy City squad will
Basketball Association has made be formed from a player pool in
rapid strides in growth and popu- which each NBA team is allowed
larity since its somewhat shaky to reserve six players with all oth-
formation back in 1946. ers placed on the open market for
Over a period of 12 years the Chicago to purchase at a price
league has matured a great deal determined by a neutral appraiser.
under the able leadership of its Further Expansion
president Maurice Podoloff and Further expansion in the not
it now seems ready to follow in ther e in the not
the successful footsteps of its pro- toodistant future by the NBA is
fessional brother, the National indicated by the fact that several
Fsonbal reahleague games this season will be
Football League. played in cities such as San Fran-
During its adolescence the grow- cisco, Los Angeles and Houston.
ing league had as many as 17
members including such teams as A big boon to the spread of pro-
memer Shenboudinasuch teams asfessional basketball's popularity
Waterloo, Sheboygan and Ander- must be credited to the "NBA
son, but in the past five years has Game of the Week" television
settled down to a successful, stable broadcasts which are piped into
eight team circuit. Ikey cities all over the nation.
National TV These weekly telecasts of top
Teams now play before large NBA teams in action have stimu-
crowds in big city arenas with na- lated a great deal of interest in
tional television audiences watch- the pro game in areas where in
ing, instead of in small town high the past the sport had been un-
school gymnasiums. The manage- known.
ment of an NBA team is a big Another reason for pro cage
_ _ opularityAIstth league'srprocsant

J '

DETROIT PISTON STALWARTS - Red Rocha, George Yardley,
the many established professional basketball stars under contract
former Ntaional Basketball Association great, coaches the team fo
scorer and the 7'2" Dukes is the top rebounder.

with programs rivaling anything
that is now being brought into
Madison Square Garden, Detroit
fans remained adamant in their
snub of basketball.
Like Globetroters
The only brand of basketball
the Detroiters seemingly go for is
the brand dished out by the-high-
flying Harlem Globetrotters and
they prove their loyalty every time

HALLER'S

the group has an engagement in
the Motor City by packing Olym-
pia to the rafters.
Zollner, however, on the
strength of the successes turned
in by Detroit's other three profes-
sional teams, deserted financially
unfertile Fort Wayne in hopes of
converting some of Detroit's po-
tential fans to the colorful spec-
tacle of pro basketball.
Last year, his first in Detroit,
must have been a disappointing
one to Zollner, for after an exten-
sive pre-season campaign of guest
speakers, free tickets, and other
assorted gimmicks designed to get
the fans away from their TV sets
and into the stadium, only a se-
lective scattering of fans ever paid
their way into the home of the
Pistons.
On any given evening two thirds
of these patrons in attendance
might be non-paying guests of
Zollner.
Didn't Win
But the Pistons didn't win last
year and Zoilner attributed his
lack of financial success to this
fact. In an attempt to get his
team back onto their winning
ways, Zollner released fiery coach
Charley Eckman in favor of popu-
lar Red Rocha and at the same
time picked up ex-Globetrotter
Sweetwater Clifton to add color
and fan appeal to his aggregation.
In addition to changes on the
basketball floor, Zollner hired one
of the best publicity and public
relations men in the business,
Nick Kerbaway, who had a great
deal to do with the recent finan-
cial success of the neighboring
Detroit Lions. Zollner hopes he
has brought the Midas touch along
with him.
Although the season was not
all he had hoped it would be,
Zollner was still able to flash his
ready smile early last spring and
predict both an improved gate and
a winning season for 1958.
New Season
Alas, 1958 has finally rolled
around and the sound of basket-
balls thudding against high school
backboards has again filled prep
gyms with an abundance of sup-
porters around the Detroit area,
and in Olympia the Pistons are
winning at last, in fact they are
even in contention for the West-

and Walter Dukes are three of business requiring about a halfp
to the Detroit team. Rocha, a million dollar annual budget. e
)r whom Yardley is the leading With franchises now located in f
New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Z
Syracuse, Cincinnati, Minneapolis,s
e division title, but they are t. Louis and Detroit, the NBA b
performing before fewer fans than has announced the formation of a
bothered to show up last year. team located in Chicago which ,
However, the determined Piston -
owner is not giving up. He has,,=-
leased Olympia Stadium for six
years and has been quoted as say-
ing that the Pistons will remain
in Detroit for at least that long.

- =- -

Jramej

popularity is the league's constantI
efforts to speed up play making
for greater spectator appeal.
Dragged out contests caused by
stalling and excessive fouling have
been cut to a minimum by the
league's 24 second rule and strict
foul regulations.

Special Rates
Zollner and Co. are selling
tickets at ridiculously low prices
to college students and a series
of "Dad's days" and "Father and
Son Nights" should soon be in the
offing, as amiable Fred Zollner
tries to keep the Pistons from
running in the red for the second
straight year.
If things don't pick up in the
Motor City, Olympia spectators
may be privileged to witness the
slow death of a basketball team,
for Zollner has yet to solve the
riddle of the reluctant Detroit
f ans.

WILLIAM HARTWIG, Proprietor
PICTURE FRAMING

I

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UP IN THE AIR.
OVER GREENE'SCREDIT'
And it's such a simple plan, no wonder. Any Michigan student is eligible
to receive dry cleaning on credit from Greene's, and here's how you do it:
Stop in at either the South University or Liberty Street store and fill out
an application card. You'll receive a Greene's credit card, good at either
store, which will allow you a regular 30-day charge account. Greene's want
to make it as easy as possible for students to get the best dry cleaning and
shirt laundry service in Ann Arbor. They know the credit plan does just that.
If you don't already have a card, pick one up right away. You'll be glad you. did.

by

Richman Brothers
04 399

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