The Reno Bighorns NBA Development League basketball team has a very specific set of goals it wants its prospective fans to know about.
The team wants to create a fun, family-friendly atmosphere during its games, it wants to develop its borderline NBA talent into an entertaining on-the-floor product and it wants to reach out to the surrounding community to the fullest extent.
Speaking at a Minden Rotary member luncheon at the Carson Valley Inn on Wednesday, Bighorns chief operating officer Tony Funderberg made it very clear that he considers the Carson Valley very much to be a part of the community he's looking to serve.
"Community availability is going to be a large part of our ability to be successful here," Funderberg said. "Our players, our staff, even our mascot are going to be spending a lot of time out at community events."
He went on to name many of the local service clubs and charity organizations he is looking forward to working with, making sure that everyone in the room had his phone number and e-mail address.
And then he put his money where his mouth was.
The Douglas High basketball team will open its season against traditional rival Hug Nov. 29 just prior to the Bighorns' franchise debut at the Reno Events Center.
Following the Tigers' season-opener, the Bighorns will host the Bakersfield Jam at 7 p.m.
For every $10 ticket purchased for the game at the luncheon, Funderberg said he was going to put $5 back into the Douglas and Hug basketball programs.
The first 300 people in attendance at the game will also receive a free lift ticket to Sugar Bowl.
"We see Gardnerville as part of the Reno community," said Funderberg, who spent the last six years in the midwest where he was the general manager of the Gateway Grizzlies independent league baseball team in the greater St. Louis area. "This is not that much of a drive in St. Louis."
Funderberg said his hope is to draw families to the team's 25 home games this season.
"We want you to be entertained every second you are at our games," he said, adding that a family fun zone will be installed at the arena.
Bighorns coach Jay Humphries, a former player in the NBA and international basketball coach, also spoke to the Rotarian crowd.
"We are here to develop players," Humphries said. "If a player doesn't line up with the values that we stand for, he'll be gone."
The Bighorns will fill 10 roster spots with the athletes who have been trying out with the team over the past week and leave two open for their parent organizations, the Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks, to fill with players they want to assign.
"We want to put an entertaining product on the floor, so we will be running a lot," Humphries said. "But it may be that we get sent a 7-foot, 3-inch, 300-pound guy and it will be our job to work with him and develop him."
Because of the nature of the league, Humphries said to expect a lot of turnover on the Reno roster. He said it is not uncommon for an NBA team to swoop in an sign a player, or for a player to go overseas and play international ball.
For more information on the Bighorns, visit the team Web site at www.nba.com/dleague/reno.