Nuggets, WWE in smackdown over arena confict
AP Basketball Writer
Denver, CO Colorado
DENVER, Colorado ” Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are scheduled to be at the Pepsi Center in Denver next Monday night.
Problem is, so are John Cena and a bunch of wrestlers.
World Wrestling Entertainment says it is booked at the arena for an episode of Monday Night Raw, the same night the Nuggets are slated to host the Lakers in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
WWE spokesman Robert Zimmerman says the organization secured the Pepsi Center last Aug. 15 and has already sold more than 10,000 tickets for the event. He says the organization expects a sellout, with tickets ranging from $20 to $70.
“Even though the Denver Nuggets had a strong team this year and were projected to make the playoffs, obviously Nuggets and Pepsi Center owner Stan Kroenke did not have enough faith in his own team to hold the May 25th date for a potential playoff game,” WWE chairman Vince McMahon said in a statement.
Denver is usually done with basketball by now. The Nuggets had lost in the first round five straight years, but as the No. 2 seed in the West are in the conference finals for the first time since 1985.
The Nuggets referred comment to the NBA, which handles scheduling during the playoffs. NBA spokesman Mark Broussard said the league was looking into the conflict.
Zimmerman said the Pepsi Center confirmed in March with the WWE that the organization wanted to keep the May 25 date, and sent a contract on April 15 ” the final night of the regular season ” which WWE signed and returned. Tickets went on sale April 11.
The conflict didn’t arise until Sunday, when the Lakers beat the Houston Rockets in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals. Had the Rockets won, Denver would have had home-court advantage in the next round, hosting Games 1 and 2 and putting the May 25 game in Houston.
As of Monday afternoon, the schedule on the Pepsi Center’s Web site listed WWE for 6:30 p.m. local time and Western Conference finals Game 4 at 7 p.m. Tickets for the wrestling event could still be purchased online.