Bill Simmons makes fun of Providence’s pathetic NBA team

April 16th, 2012 at 4:19 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Apparently a decade in Los Angeles hasn’t cured Bill Simmons of his Massachusetts superiority complex.

From his latest Grantland column (emphasis mine):

Do you realize Charlotte has a chance to finish with the NBA’s worst winning percentage ever? The ‘73 Sixers own the worst 82-game record (9-73); the ‘99 Grizzlies own the worst strike-shortened record (8-42); and the ‘48 Providence Steamers set the records for fewest wins (they went 6-42) and most times someone said, “They put a team THERE?” (215,563 times and counting).

Hey Simmons, the team’s name was the Providence Steamrollers, thank you very much. And I’m sure they did the best they could during their very short three-year existence.

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Hockey fans richer, smarter than MLB, NBA and NFL fans

June 6th, 2011 at 12:11 pm by under Nesi's Notes

It’s not looking great for the Bruins as they get set for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Boston tonight, but we’re keeping the faith here at Nesi’s Notes. The Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont caught my eye with these chart-ready stats about the NHL in his column on Sunday:

According to league data, the average household income (HHI) for NHL fans is $104,000, highest of the four major sports with Major League Baseball ($96,200), the NBA ($96,000), and the NFL ($94,500). Sixty-eight percent of NHL fans have attended college, more than the other three sports (ranging 60.4 percent to 63.6 percent). And 64 percent of NHL fans hold full-time jobs, also more than the others (57-58.1 percent).

All in all, hockey fans are a well-educated, well-heeled, Internet-savvy bunch, no matter what the perception. Not surprisingly, they also like their beer. According to Latimer, Bruins fans buy upward of 30 percent more brew at the Garden than Celtics fans.

I find that interesting and, as Dupont notes, somewhat counterintuitive. What do you think explains it?

Remembering when Providence had an NBA team

October 26th, 2010 at 3:41 pm by under General Talk

the Steamrollers' logo

Let’s take a break from Shoveitgate and politics, shall we?

The Celtics open their season tonight against the Miami Heat’s much-hyped trio of Wade, James and Bosh. (Sounds like a law firm.) But if history had taken a different turn, it’s possible the Heat could have made their debut right here in Providence.

I didn’t know this until recently, but it turns out the capital city had its own professional basketball team for three seasons right after World War II, from 1946 to 1949.

The team’s name was the Providence Steamrollers and, according to, its brief run included an unhappy record: the fewest wins in a single season in the history of the NBA. The team went 6-42 in 1947-48.

Well, you can’t win them all – or in this case, they could hardly win any. (“Remember the Providence Steamrollers?” New York magazine asked in 1983. “Only masochists and trivia maniacs would.”) There was apparently some attempt made to bring back the team in the early 1980s, but nothing came of it.

The Steamrollers were part of the Basketball Association of America, which merged with the National Basketball League in 1949 to form the NBA, killing off the poor Steamrollers. The team’s roster during its ignominious 1947-48 season included 46-year-old Pat Hickey, who still holds the record as the oldest person ever to play in the NBA.

Steamrollers games took place at the old Rhode Island Auditorium (also known as the Providence Arena) on North Main Street, which was demolished in 1989. The team’s owner, Lou Pieri, also owned the Arena. According to Charley Rosen’s history of the NBA, Pieri named the team after his construction company and they practiced at Hope High School. (I doubt anyone reading this saw the Steamrollers play, but maybe you caught the Reds, the longer-lived hockey team that played there.)

Providence has a lot of fascinating old sports history. I mentioned the Steamrollers to my friend Dan, who’s a smart sports aficionado, and he reminded me that basketball’s Providence Steamrollers should not be confused with football’s Providence Steam Roller, winners of a pre-Super Bowl NFL championship way back in the 1920s. Indeed, there’s a lot of great sports history in Providence. Another chum pointed out to me that the NFL’s decision to start teams in small cities early on is the reason a place like Green Bay still has the Packers.

All I know is, I want a Providence Streamrollers T-shirt. Anybody know where I can buy one?

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