The Jacksonville Giants defeated the DMV Warriors on Wednesday night to advance to the ABA National Championship, where they will face the Windy City Groove in a best-of-three series beginning tomorrow night.
This is the fourth time the team has made it to the championship. They’ve been in the final four six times, and they’ve won the league championship twice.
So why does no one seem to care?
The Giants have been a highlight of the ABA since they entered the league in 2010. They’ve consistently finished at the top of the league both record-wise and attendance-wise. They claim to hold the professional basketball record for most points in a game, with an absurd 222 points in a 2014 game. Interestingly enough, they also hold a league record for highest attendance in a single game.
But despite the team’s success and relatively good attendance numbers, for some reason it hasn’t managed to generate much buzz around the city.
Granted, the ABA is not the most exciting league; it is very much a minor league, and often comes across as amateurish. The Giants are without a doubt on the upper end of the league, but even the best of the ABA suffers from budget limitations.
If you go to a game, though, you’re treated to a full professional basketball experience. The team takes itself seriously in every aspect and conducts itself as though it was an NBA franchise on game-day, from the booming pre-game festivities to the T-shirt cannons during timeout breaks. It’s a fun, fulfilling experience at a cheap price tag. It has broadcasting deals with the local CW affiliate for television and 1010XL for radio.
It’s hard to really nail down what’s holding the Giants back from full embrace within the Jacksonville community. The city has a long history of supporting basketball — last decade it hosted the 2004 Olympic basketball team’s practices, and Jacksonville was recently named a finalist for landing the Orlando Magic’s future D-League team. The Magic often have training camp scrimmages here, and they generally play to packed crowds. A lack of interest in basketball is certainly not the issue.
Whatever has been stopping the city from paying attention to the Giants, hopefully things will turn around soon. The team will begin the pursuit of its third ABA championship tomorrow night. Whether they’re successful or not, it’s about time they start getting the recognition they deserved.