The Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association watched their most watchable player, Steve Nash, take his two MVP trophies to Hollywood this summer. The Suns won’t set though. They’re still fun to watch. They guarantee it: go see them play Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks on December 6 and if you’re not entertained, the Suns will refund the price of your ticket. What? P.T. Barnum is now taking the salutary Arizona air in semi-retirement? But it’s no gimmick, as least insofar as it’s not a trick. Suns president Jason Rowley says, “We feel so confident in our product that we are willing to offer money back to those fans who leave our arena unsatisfied after experiencing the excitement of Suns basketball.”
Who else does this? Big retailers these days customarily offer little resistance to returns. Costco famously will take back any item (except electronics) during the life of your membership there. But Costco can resell the pants you return to someone else. Once the Suns-Mavericks game is over, it’s gone, vanished. The Suns are betting that anyone who comes out to the arena already has a vested interest in having fun. It’s also an interesting incentive for their players that night. NBA players, like most professional athletes (golf and tennis being notable exceptions) work under guaranteed contracts. They get paid whether they hustle on a particular night or not. It follows that on occasional nights, they “mail it in.” But these players are also a proud lot, having ascended to the peak of their profession–a notoriously difficult climb. December 6 presents a chance NBA players rarely get: to prove, on a particular night, that they are worth the price of admission.
(Update: Suns Lose Close One)