The Washington Post

How the Wizards and Lady Gaga wound up with a conflict

(Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

The conflict between the Wizards and Lady Gaga — a potential Game 6 of the Wizards-Pacers series would land on the same date as Lady Gaga’s long-scheduled Verizon Center show — now stretches to a fourth day, still with no resolution. All I can tell you is that talks are ongoing.

My story about this issue landed on A1 of Tuesday’s Washington Post, and yet there are still more questions from fans. Here’s the main one, via Ashley Kowalski, a 24-year old Gaga fan from Baltimore.

“I was like what, this really can’t be happening,” she said, describing her feelings upon learning of the conflict. “How could they double book? That’s crazy. I just would assume that for such a large venue, they would take that possibility into account. I understand they need to book the venue to keep money rolling in, but gosh, they should have taken [the concert] a little bit more into consideration.”

“My level of worry is really high, really really high,” 17-year old Henry Munoz told me. “I honestly think Verizon Center should give Gaga the chance to do this. This concert was planned, there are a lot of people who asked for days off, a lot of people concerned about this. Verizon Center’s reputation could go down. So many people would be mad if this gets postponed.”

Anyhow, I talked with an NBA spokesman about how this conflict came to pass. A few bullet points.

* The Gaga show was announced in early December, when many of her fans began making their D.C. plans.

* Had some of the first-round NBA playoff series ended quickly, at least some of the second-round series could have started earlier, which would have inserted some flexibility into the league’s schedule. But every second-round series included at least one team that played a Game 7 in the first round. That meant there was very little wiggle room in the second round.

* All four second-round series will play an every-other-day schedule through the first six games. That means there are two games scheduled every day for 12 days in a row. If the Wizards and Pacers went off that schedule for even just one game, it could place three NBA games on one night, and one (or even zero) games on the adjacent night.

* The NBA doesn’t want scheduling to affect competitive balance by making any teams play back-to-back days in the playoffs. It has done this on occasion, usually because of conflicts with NHL games in shared arenas, but it’s fairly rare.

* While arena conflicts aren’t an every-year occurrence, they aren’t infrequent, either. Last spring, a Rihanna show in Brooklyn was postponed for three days to accommodate Game 7 of a first-round Nets-Chicago Bulls series. A 2008 Rush concert in New Orleans was pushed back a day because of a first-round Hornets playoff game. Just last month, Miley Cyrus moved a Philadelphia show up a day to clear room for a Flyers-New York Rangers first-round playoff game. And in 2009, there was a major kerfuffle when a WWE show was double-booked with a Nuggets playoff game in Denver. The wrestling show moved to L.A. instead.

Needless to say, such explanations wouldn’t soothe Gaga fans like Mark James, a 19-year old from North Carolina who’s travel plans to D.C. were booked months ago and aren’t flexible.

“I think it’s unfair,” he told me. “This event was planned prior to any of that happening. They could have looked at the schedule and not double-scheduled in the first place and none of this would have happened. Why can’t they [play] Wednesday, why can’t they do it Friday? The concert was scheduled first.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.



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