Can You Hear Me Now, Buffalo? The Braves Deserve Some Space at HSBC


The buzz has been around since HSBC Arena opened.

Why not create some space for the legacy of the Braves? Hang some jerseys, some banners; put some memorabilia in a display case in the lobby. Good idea?

Until now, arena management has said an emphatic, “No!”

I can see their point, I suppose. The Braves never played in HSBC. The Braves ditched town.

Any tribute to the Braves would involve expense to the arena, the Sabres, and the city. Certainly not for the Braves, or their successors the Los Angeles Clippers.

On the other hand, the Braves may be gone, but not their memory, and certainly not the place they hold in the hearts of thousands of fans; fans who fill the HSBC for Sabres and Bandits games.

It could be argued that this is why sports franchises should not be portable. The intangilbles, the spirit, the true essence of a team is in the memories, the space, the place, the sentiment. The identities of a town and team in the venue of origin are as interdependent as heart and soul.

A heart can be surgically removed and transplanted, but the soul isn’t transient.

Cut a team out of it’s physical body and you have a team with no soul. Transplant it on the opposite coast and you have a fan base with no connection to history.

What’s left? A zombie franchise. 

So, it could be argued that more of the true essence of the Buffalo Braves remained in the hearts of Buffalonians and in the walls, the seats, the halls and tunnels of Memorial Aud than was packed up and shipped off to San Diego.

Those of us who had the opportunity to pay our last respects, to walk up to the demolition site and peer through the safety fence, through the gaping hole at naked memories fully exposed.

We could feel the sighs, hear the cheers, see the lights, the colors, the composite emotion and commotion of eight years worth of basketball passion that is just as real, just as palpable as they were when the Braves were at their peak.

Ironically, the last wall of the Aud will fall within days of the falling of a man who rightly called himself “the institutional memory” of the Braves.

Now that Randy Smith is dead, the subject of a tangible tribute to the likes of Smith, McAdoo, DiGregorio and company is cropping up again around cyberspace.

The worst expression of this sentiment is a call for the Clippers to retire some jerseys. Clippers, Schmippers! There isn’t a fan in LA, unless they are Buffalo Ex-Pats, who would remember or care.

It’s a zombie franchise. So forget the Clippers.

Build the temple where the spirit remains. Especially now that the Aud is gone and our “Institutional Memory” with it, the need to house that memory and that spirit is critical.

It is time for Buffalo fans to rise up and demand that HSBC Arena hang a banner commemorating the accomplishments of the Buffalo Braves.

It is time for a display case to remind us of the spirit that Randy Smith and company brought to this city and its citizens. 

It is time, before there are any more obituaries to write, to invite the likes of McAdoo, DiGregorio, Heard, McMillain, McMillen, Walt Hazard, Bob Kauffman, Emmet Bryant and the rest for a Buffalo Braves reunion, for a banner hanging ceremony, a dedication of “Braves Corridor” in their new home at HSBC.

Pictured Above: former Buffalo Brave, Randy Smith (right) with A.C. Green (center) when Green broke Smith’s record of 906 consecutive NBA games played.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...