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Culture Watch: Feed your bigs, and your fans

Pizza? Popeyes? What food promotions does the rest of the league offer? Let’s find out!

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Welp. That was heartbreaking. Not only did the Raptors lose Game 2, but we didn’t get pizza. And although we could have eaten our sorrows with three free Popeye’s chicken tenders, the promotion apparently isn’t available during the playoffs. This year, the Raptors have earned fans free pizza from Pizza Pizza 34 times, and free chicken from Popeye’s 22 times.

Do the Raptors have the best food promotions in the league? Are we grasping at straws to keep our spirits up? Let’s look league wide and see.

Atlanta Hawks: The Atlanta Hawks have a barbershop in their arena. They also have some pretty decent food promotions. The positive thing for Hawks fans is that their promos don’t really require the team itself to do anything. In partnership with Chick-Fil-A, the Atlanta Hawks hosted Chick-Fil-A Family Nights throughout the season. Fans of the Hawks (or chicken) could purchase 4 tickets and 4 combo meals, starting at $89.00.

The Hawks also have select games in which “All You Can Eat Seats” can be purchased for $37, and fans can eat as many hot dogs, pretzels, nachos, popcorn, and Coke products as their hearts and stomachs desire. Remember when that lady barfed this season? That’s probably why. Like many other teams in the league, Chick-Fil-A offers the Fowl Shot, where if an opponent missed two consecutive free throws, those in attendance will receive a free original chicken sandwich. This year this occurred three times, and were infamously denied of the offer, and mercilessly trolled by Miam’s Udonis Haslem.

Boston Celtics: Despite the constant boosterism of Legal Sea Food, the Boston Celtics don’t actually have any food deals for fans. That is, unless your name is Kevin Durant. During Durant’s free agency of 2016, Legal Seafood promised the All Star forward free crab legs for life if he signed with the Celtics. We all know how that ended.

Brooklyn Nets: The Barclays Center is surrounded by delicious dining options. Unfortunately for Nets fans, there is only one way to have food included with your ticket, and it isn’t cheap. For around $150, fans can purchase “All Access” tickets which include all you can eat and drink. Is this actually what Masai was talking about when he said “Fuck Brooklyn?”

Charlotte Hornets: The Charlotte Hornets had exactly one food promotion this year. On April 8th, during a game against the Celtics, fans received a bottomless popcorn bucket to use, and keep during the game. I guess when you’re paying Cody Zeller close to $14 million dollars in the upcoming season free food isn’t really in the budget.

Chicago Bulls: The Bulls are under a lot of pressure, not only to live up to the Michael Jordan/Scottie Pippen/Dennis Rodman Bulls that feel like merely a memory, but to win games, score big, and feed their fans. If the Bulls won a home game, fans who purchase a 32oz drink from Wingstop were entitled to five free boneless wings. If the Bulls scored 100 points or more and won a home game, fans would receive a free Big Mac. Unfortunately for Bulls fans, this meant only 17 free orders of wings, and 15 free Big Macs.

Cleveland Cavaliers: So far, the Raptors seem to be no match for LeBron James, but when it comes to promotional food offers, this series is tied and going seven games. GetGo gas stations in Cleveland promise fans a free 22oz Mountain Dew if the Cavs score 22 or more points in the first quarter of a home game, which happened 33 times this season. If the Cavaliers score 100 or more points in a regular season game, fans showing their tickets at McDonalds are entitled to 10 free McNuggets for 48 hours after the game. If a fan attended every home game this season, he or she could have theoretically consumed 320 free McNuggets. This same fan could have later gone home and ordered 29 half priced pizzas from Papa John’s, that is one for every home game the Cavaliers won.

Dallas Mavericks: Despite being owned by one of the richest men on the planet, the Dallas Mavericks do not offer a single food promotion. Maybe this is why Dirk Nowitzki brings food from home before every single game.

Denver Nuggets: One would expect a team called the Denver NUGGETS to have a promotion involving, well, nuggets. Somehow both McDonalds and the Denver Nuggets marketing team didn’t think to partner up for this one though. Oh well. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other options for fans to enjoy during and after the game.

The Nuggets offer two fan packages: Nuggets Night Out, and Nuggets Family Night. On Nuggets Night Out, fans can purchase one ticket and one beer for $23. For just $5 more per person, fans will receive a ticket and a family meal, so if beer isn’t your thing this may be the option for you. Like Cleveland, Papa John’s pizza will be 50 percent off after a Nuggets game, however the Nuggets must score 100 points or more in order to make this offer valid. Chick-Fil-A offers the same deal to Nuggets fans as they do to Hawks fans. This season, opponents of the Nuggets missed two consecutive free throws seven times, allowing for seven free original chicken sandwiches.

Detroit Pistons: Moving to the brand new Little Caesar’s arena did not inspire the Pistons to promote the hot and ready pizza. Instead, attendees can enjoy Twosdays, where two tickets to select games played at home on a Tuesday will cost $20 per pair, and include 2-for-1 concessions. Friday Night Out games are equally inexpensive. For $45, or the cost of two beers at the Air Canada Centre, fans will receive two tickets, two Coors Light, and two hot dogs. The Hungry Howie’s 4-pack does include one large pizza, four pops, and four tickets for just $64, so if the arena is making you crave pizza, this is a steal.

Golden State Warriors: Back in 2016, Taco Bell introduced the “Steal A Game, Steal A Taco” event, where a free Doritos Locos Taco would be given to any Golden State fan who wore Warriors gear to select Taco Bell locations the day after the Warriors won a game on the road during the Finals. The campaign continued into the 2017 Finals, and will more than likely continue to do so for this year’s Finals, and all of eternity.

Confident in the Warriors ability to perform on the road, McDonalds proposed free fries after every road win. This occurred 29 times this season. During the regular season, if the Warriors kept the visiting team from shooting more than 75% from the free throw line, fans could collect five free nuggets from Jack in the Box, and could buy a coffee for just $1 if wearing Warriors gear of any kind at Peet’s.

Houston Rockets: The Rockets were the only team this year to give away salad. On game days, fans sporting Rockets hats, clothing, or pins to Snappy Salads would get a salad free of charge. Whether this is even more bland than Chris Paul remains a mystery. Rockets fans also received the Chick-Fil-A Fowl Shot free sandwiches seven times this season.

Indiana Pacers: Similar to Chick-Fil-A, Hardee’s promised fans in attendance a free sandwich if an opponent missed free throws. The difference is that the sandwich is a breakfast one, and five free throws must be missed. This season, the Miss It For Biscuits challenge was completed 21 times, including one game in which the Orlando Magic missed 14 free throws. Hardee’s might regret their offer come next season, as may Jack’s Donuts, who offer a free donut or coffee the day after a Pacers win to any customer who mentions the win.

Los Angeles Clippers: With the departure of both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, Lob City may find it difficult to entice spectators in the upcoming season, especially when courtside season tickets are still priced at a rumoured $175,000. These tickets do include “complimentary” food and drinks, and you can probably still get half priced Papa John’s pizza after a Clippers win. Even the free Whopper that comes with the Clippers dunking three or more times in a home game must be combined with another purchase. C’mon, Steve Ballmer, if you’re going to rebrand your team, rebrand your free swag while you’re at it.

Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers have always been the bigger market team, probably because of Kobe, Shaq, and the free Wingstop offers after each Lakers win. Lakers fans who kept their ticket stubs this season also benefited from the Lakers winning 17 home games in which they scored 100 or more points, and could show their ticket at Jack in the Box for two free tacos.

Memphis Grizzlies: Do you love fried chicken and basketball? Obviously you do, or you wouldn’t be reading this. The Memphis Grizzlies and Kentucky Fried Chicken are the only organization to offer the “ticket bucket” where an 8-piece bucket of chicken will include eight tickets to particular Grizzlies games, and a 16-piece bucket will include 16 tickets. This year, KFC and the Grizzlies also held a contest in which fans who looked like the Colonel had a chance to win KFC for life.

Miami Heat: The Heat and Hassan Whiteside appeared to be at a crossroads as this season came to an end. Whiteside’s upcoming contract will cost the team almost $26 million dollars, which sucks for them, and for fans who will probably have to suffer another season of their only promotion being 50 percent off Papa John’s after a win.

Milwaukee Bucks: If Bucks fans ration their food wisely, they could attend a game and eat for a week. By purchasing two Palerno frozen pizzas, Bucks fans automatically receive two tickets to a home game, and when Milwaukee scores 90 or more points in a home game, pizza from Papa Johns is 50% off. Pair that with the free Dunkin Donuts coffee after a win, and people in Milwaukee are all set.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Another franchise, another frozen pizza and ticket offer. This time, fans who purchase two Freschetta frozen pizzas can attend a home game, and get more half priced Papa John’s after a win. Purchasing three Pagoda snacks would also guarantee two tickets to a game between October and December. I personally don’t know what Cherry Berry frozen yogurt is, but it looks delicious and is free if Timberwolves opponents miss two consecutive free throws in the fourth quarter. Fans probably aren’t sick of this promotion, as it only occurred six times this season.

New Orleans Pelicans: The King Cake Baby is the stuff of nightmares. If Ron Baker is having trouble sleeping, it’s probably because when he closes his eyes he envisions it’s creepy face on Anthony Davis’ body. The King Cake Baby doesn’t give fans anything though, except for goosebumps and night terrors. Its existence is solely to provoke fear in the Pelicans opponents, and any nearby children. Pierre the Pelican is a much happier mascot, and his Party Pack includes three tickets and three combo meals. New Orleans also offers a “Guys Night Out” package for $50 with two tickets, four beers, and a $20 gift card included in the price.

New York Knicks: Papa John’s has really cornered the NBA pizza promotion market. For an entire week, Papa John’s offers a “Fan Appreciation Week” special of, you guessed it, 50 percent off.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Back in 2016, OKC offered 10 free McDonalds McNuggets on home game days using the McDonalds app. The deal doesn’t appear to be ongoing, but maybe that’s what happens when your team isn’t a fan of sharing.

Orlando Magic: It never snows in Orlando, and they have Disney World. The Magic also have the most food promos, and the most variety. Starting with Olive Garden, children wearing Magic gear to the restaurant get to eat for free. When the Magic make three or more dunks in a home game, Mom and Dad can eat for free, too.

When Terrence Ross is healthy again, Olive Garden might have to adjust this promotion a little bit. Papa John’s and Chick-Fil-A also have their hands in the Magic franchise, with 50 percent off pizza after a Magic win, and free original chicken sandwiches when Orlando make five or more three pointers. That means after every single home game, Magic fans received a free sandwich. For those who grew tired of eating 31 chicken sandwiches, Tijuana Flats gave away free tacos and chips to anyone wearing Magic merchandise this season.

Philadelphia 76ers: Are you sick of reading about Papa John’s yet? Don’t worry, only three more teams after Philadelphia have offers from the pizza chain. If the 76ers win, Papa John’s will offer, you guessed it: 50 percent off. Philly is also the team with the giant Wendy’s cut outs taunting the opposing team while they shoot their free throws. The reason for this is that if the player misses both, the entire crowd gets a free Frosty. Don’t worry Raptors fans, we denied them of this at every meeting this year.

Phoenix Suns: Pretzel Day? Well I like Pretzel Day. Like Stanley from The Office, Suns fans don’t have much to look forward to as of late. But Pretzel Day? That’s something special. Together with Wetzel’s Pretzels, the Phoenix Suns give away free pretzels to fans on Pretzel Day.

Portland Trail Blazers: Dame Time? More like Free Food Time. If the Blazers score 100 or more points, fans will receive both a free sausage McGriddle and free medium fries from McDonalds. Not bad when it happens 62 times in a season. The 28 home wins for the Trail Blazers also promised 28 short stacks of pancakes from IHOP to anyone who downloaded the coupon. This might not totally make up for the sudden death of the Taco Bell promotion after 14 years, but it will suffice.

Sacramento Kings: The Kings have Toronto legends Vince Carter and Bruno Caboclo, what more could they want? Free sandwiches? Those were handed out to all Kings fans on opening day courtesy of Chick-Fil-A.

San Antonio Spurs: Kawhi Leonard isn’t going to pass up free food, so why should Spurs fans? When the Spurs win in the regular season, a promo code for Whataburger will scroll across the bottom of the screen during televised games. Those who enter it will have a chance to win free Whataburger food and other prizes. During the brief playoff run this season, Papa John’s offered 50 percent off pizza on game days.

Utah Jazz: The promotions for the Jazz are the same as for the Nuggets. If they win and score 100, fans get half off pizza. If their opponent misses both free throws in the fourth quarter, they get free Chick-Fil-A. This resulted in 13 games where free sandwiches could be obtained. Why is it so hard to make free throws in Utah? And why aren’t the Jazz utilizing this right now against the Rockets?

Washington Wizards: This is the last time you will have to read “Papa John’s” I promise. Once again, if the Wizards score 100 and win, you know the drill, 50 percent off pizza. This is also the last mention of Chick-Fil-A, who gave away free original chicken sandwiches 13 times this season. The Wizards also partnered with McDonalds and offered a free order of large fries any time the Wizards ended the first quarter with the lead. That’s a lot of fries.

*******

The Raptors are fun. The Raptors are good. But sometimes, it just isn’t financially feasible to go watch them play at the Air Canada Centre. If the opportunity to watch them play on the road for basically pennies (which we don’t even have in Canada anymore) presents itself, why not take it?

You might get some free food with a side of memories to last a lifetime.