In what has been the Year of the Apology — from Canada's women's hockey team to the Chicago Bears to Tiger Woods to Toyota — a relatively disappointing NBA team has decided its apology is only the beginning.
If only that team were the Warriors.
The Minnesota Timberwolves last week acknowledged their wretched season and had the courage to take action. They bought a full-page ad in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, seeking continued support, and offered fans a letter of apology signed by David Kahn, the team's president of basketball operations.
To validate their profound sincerity, the Wolves also announced they were cutting season-ticket prices — by half.
To clarify, lower-bowl season tickets for the 2010-11 season at Target Center can be bought for 50 percent of the regular rate. The catch is that like most advertised sales it's for a limited time, in this case the 31 days of March.
It's noble of Wolves management to feel some of the pain felt by their fans, who have done a reasonable job of supporting a team with the worst record (14-47) in the Western Conference. Certainly given our fragile economic conditions, seeing ownership try to make amends with those it has abused, neglected or otherwise let down suggests someone in authority has a conscience.
In some cases, though, like that of Denny's offering free breakfasts for a day, putting a smile on the company logo is just good business. It shows the bosses are listening and do, in fact, appreciate your business.
So far, there has been no similar gesture by Toyota or, for that matter, anybody else who might be in a similar predicament.
That would include the Warriors or, for that matter, the Raiders.
The Warriors, like the Raiders, know their fans are suffering. The question is what to do for those who work to earn the money it takes to support their product. How to respond?
So far, few signs of remorse for accepting payment have been apparent. And nothing remotely close to a half-price sale on season tickets has been offered.
Yet, the concept of acknowledgment-and-response is raging through the sports world.
The NBA's Washington Wizards let everyone know they weren't sleeping through the league's most notable outburst of insanity this season by issuing a public apology for the controversy related to star guard Gilbert Arenas and guns in the locker room.
The Chicago Bears went 7-9 and immediately, the day after the season ended, said sorry to their fans in a full-page ad in local papers. Not because fans are fleeing — they still have a 5,000-person list for season tickets — but because they felt the need to reach out.
The NHL's Dallas Stars last month announced they are slashing season-ticket prices, by as much as 23 percent. The NFL's St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions last month announced they were cutting season-ticket prices. The Sacramento Kings, the NBA team geographically closest to the Warriors, also want their fans to know they are rolling back most season-ticket prices for 2010-11.
None of these quality-challenged teams trimmed prices as drastically as the Timberwolves, but only Minnesota's is restricted to a one-month window.
The Warriors, employers of some of the savviest marketers in sports, are always brainstorming ways to get fans into Oracle Arena and typically do a terrific job. Yet they realize home attendance, still relatively strong, is tapering off.
What to do? How to respond?
In this day and age, with inaction frustrating so many aspects of our lives, it no longer matters if a gesture offered by team ownership is symbolic. Most fans, in the absence of consistently good teams, will appreciate it. They welcome efforts to let them know any sense of neglect is not willful.
I'm guessing someone in your neighborhood — maybe on your block, perhaps in your home — has decided they won't spend another dollar on Warriors tickets until there is a tangible sign of change. Most won't be satisfied with anything less than new ownership.
That will happen, perhaps sooner than later.
In the meantime, fans want to know somebody up there in the owner's box is listening and willing to respond. They want to believe somebody in authority simply will not collect earnings without being held accountable for failure.
The Timberwolves likely will struggle again next season and maybe the season after that. They face a long, winding, slick, uphill road to respectability.
But their fans have reason to believe they are supporting a management group that's creative and appreciative of their business. Until there is some winning, that's about as good as a fan can expect.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org.