Three Pointers to Restore the NBA’s Rep

We’re not exactly basketball fans at PRNewser, so this lockout that we keep hearing about isn’t really impacting us too much. However, there are lots of people that are hurting — fans, workers, and businesses that depend on the game being played.

As a result of all the back and forth between the players and the league, the reputation of the NBA as a whole is taking a beating. In today’s guest post, Ashley McCown , president of Solomon McCown & Co., a Boston-based crisis firm, gives her suggestions for the three-point play that will revive the NBA’s ailing rep. (I’m very proud of how basketball-y that sounds.)

Click through to read on.

A Three-Point Plan for the NBA to Rebuild its Brand by Ashley McCown, president of Solomon McCown & Co.

I tweeted recently that #NBA now stands for No Basketball At-all. Many readers who responded to a recent Sports Illustrated survey seem to agree. Eighty-eight percent said they don’t think there will be a 2011-2012 season.

Whenever the players and owners reach a deal and play resumes, the survey also shows the NBA has a lot of work to do to get fans back in the seats and cheering from living rooms and bars.

Thirty-nine percent of the readers polled said, “The NBA will have to win back my trust.”

Twenty-four percent said, “I’ll be here when the NBA returns.”

Twenty-two percent said, “I was a fan, but now I’m done for good.”

The last NBA lockout in 1998-1999, came at a bad time. Michael Jordan was approaching the end of his career and fans felt owners and players were being greedy. The league’s ratings, attendance, and revenues took a beating in the years that followed. Whether the past will become prologue this time around remains to be seen. One thing is for sure: people inside and outside the NBA right now have a lot to be unhappy about.

Whenever the lockout is over, players, owners and the NBA as an organization need a game plan for how to rebound, restore trust, and rebuild the league’s battered image. Here is my three-pointer:

Start with an apology to everyone impacted by the lock out. It’s not just the fans, but front office staff who are having salaries and hours trimmed or are being laid off; ushers, concessionaires, parking attendants, and others who work the games; vendors outside the arenas; and nearby bars and restaurants that count on increased sales before, during, and after the games. They may have trouble paying the rent, mortgage, or utility bills. The lockout is much more than games not being played.

Commissioner Stern, team owners, and players need a full-court press that should start with a sincere apology. And I don’t mean standing at center court before a game. They need to make it real: meet with affected workers to truly understand how the lockout has hurt them and their families. People are angry and frustrated and they have a right to be heard.

Show me the money: Money is at the heart of the lockout and it should also be at the heart of an effort to help the affected workers. Teams could create an assistance fund to help those workers most severely impacted. Players could actually start doing something now. Many of them are playing games to benefit local charities. Why not do something to benefit arena employees, especially during the holiday season?

Play Ball: The sooner players are running and gunning down the court, the better. There is no slam dunk on this one. It will take time and a genuine, sustained effort to restore trust in the league. The road to redemption will be shorter if it starts with enough time to salvage some part of this season. I am ready to tweet: #NBA: Now Basketball Always.