MANILA, Philippines – After the Last Home Stand organizers put the National Basketball Association (NBA) on the spot, the NBA has answered back.
In a statement on Wednesday, July 23, the league points the finger back to the organizers whom they said were well informed of the necessary requirements for allowing NBA players to play a 5-on-5 exhibition game for the Last Home Stand charity event.
However, the organizers did not complete the mandatory process, which resulted in the NBA threatening the players with fines and suspensions, forcing event organizers to cancel Tuesday night’s exhibition game and giving fans drills and workouts to witness, instead. The organizers ultimately pulled the plug on day two of the event scheduled for Wednesday, July 23.
“Under the terms of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, players are allowed to participate in offseason basketball games or exhibitions when requirements for those events are met, including ensuring that appropriate safeguards be in place, and the promoter seeks the proper exemptions from the NBA and the player’s team,” the NBA said.
“The promoter of this proposed event, East-West Private LLC, was informed of this process several months ago but did not take the required steps.”
Maria Espaldon, President of East West Private, put the blame on the NBA on Tuesday night, July 22 during a press conference assembled after the drills that fans had to settle for following a sudden announcement that there would be no game at all between the NBA Team Fibr All-Stars and the Philippine national team Gilas Pilipinas.
She also admitted they failed to meet the NBA’s deadline to ensure the players would be free to participate in the exhibition game.
“We thought that it could be a great opportunity to really bring the best of basketball here and also do charity at the same time,” she said.
“That was sort of what we were hoping, that the NBA – despite the fact that we had missed the deadline – would have said that it’s for charity and it’s for the benefit of the victims of Haiyan. We explained all of that to them. They just weren’t having any of that. They didn’t want to listen to the fact that this was not something we were doing for profit.”
She also added that she was unsure whether there should be anyone to blame for the disastrous event.
“I don’t know if there’s a blame that needs to be put. The Filipino audience had an expectation of a game. They had enjoyed something really happy in 2011 and they really wanted to see something like that again. Our objective was to deliver something like that again this year and we had to adjust because it wasn’t within the parameters of the NBA.”
Amid distraught and furious fans expecting to see basketball action and reverted to booing the players on the court, Espaldon pointed out they never promised a 5-on-5 game.
“I just want to be very clear, we have always told everybody that we cannot announce a game. If you look back, we have vetted everything,” Espaldon said.
“Tweets by MVP have been very, very clear. We have not actually said that there’s a game. We haven’t said that, because we were trying to fall within the guidelines of the NBA. So we’ve always said it’s going to be a show, it’s going to be an experience.”
PLDT chairman and top Gilas patron Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP), however, readily took responsibility for creating the perception that there would be a game.
“I think there should be no mincing of words here. And clearly we created that expectation and perception. So our job as PLDT is to be accountable for that perception that’s why there’s an offer for a refund.” (RELATED: MVP, PLDT take responsibility for Last Home Stand disaster)
The Last Home Stand is a two-day basketball charity event which brought 12 NBA stars to Manila, including Kawhi Leonard, James Harden and Damian Lillard among others. It was to benefit the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation, Caritas Manila, and the MVP Sports Foundation.
But things turned sour quickly after Gilas head coach Chot Reyes announced at the start of the event the removal of the 5-on-5 component from the night’s activities.
Ariel Fermin, PLDT Home Executive Vice President and Head for Home Business, also spoke and explained the fans would be witnessing the nationals train alongside the NBA players instead.
He said if the fans were not happy with what they saw, PLDT was willing to issue refunds. He then stressed the charitable cause of the event, which agitated the shocked crowd.
PLDT has already released a statement online explaining the process of collecting refunds. (RELATED: How to claim ‘Last Home Stand’ refunds)
Previously, the event promised the appearance of Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin and the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George, with George even tweeting his excitement to visit the country.
However, both were no-shows at the last minute, with Griffin apologizing to Filipino fans through a video posted online and played during the event.
The NBA voiced their appreciation for the Filipino fans, one of the league’s most loyal followers, assuring that they had nothing against supporting charity and providing access to their game.
“Filipinos are among the most passionate basketball fans in the world and we are committed to bringing them more access to our game and supporting the ongoing Typhoon Haiyan rehabilitation efforts.” – Rappler.com
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