Thursday, September 22, 2011

Billion Dollar Pimps and Million Dollar Hoes by Jersey Campbell

                I don’t have a favorite sport. Instead, I like to put them into tiers. Tier one is the NBA, MLB, and European Football (not that foolishness we like to call football that barely involves the ball interacting with the foot, but real football where the game is predicated on the ball's interaction with the foot). Tier two is the NFL, WTA Majors, NCAA Football, and NCAA Basketball. Tier three is any event Tiger Woods plays in and big-time boxing or UFC bouts. Tier “there’s no way you’ll ever catch me watching this” is WNBA basketball, BASS Fishing, and NHL Hockey, although I have found myself watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs over the recent years.

               We’re in danger of losing NBA Basketball for at least a couple of months, and baseball might as well not exist to a lot of people. It was announced today that the NBA will postpone the beginning of training camps and the opening slate of preseason games. So begins The Fall of No Professional Basketball (yes, that was supposed to rhyme). After the most talked about season I can ever remember (thanks Lebron) it’s a shame that we have to go through this, and a lot of people won’t even care. We’ve got the pigskin for another four months. I tune into SportsNation and they lead off with football everyday! This is in the middle of MLB wild-card races that were dead two weeks ago, only to be revived by the reverse all-star pitching of John Lackey and the allergic to home plate offense of the Atlanta Braves.
               Being a fan of the sport I’d like to see the NBA season commence as usual, but you also have to step away and see the larger issue at hand. I’m through picking sides in the argument between the players and the owners, but I have to admit the owners are more to blame than the players are.
               Here are a few words of wisdom taken from ESPN’s own Bill Simmons on the lockout and how the owners with the most incompetence are taking over the negotiations. Never a good sign for the prospects of a full season being played.
                       "After wasting nearly the whole summer pointing fingers, leaking stories to reporters and doing everything except getting in a room and negotiating, Billy Hunter's side finally came down a little … and, of course, instead of just agreeing on a better revenue split (right now it's 57/43 for the players, but both sides know it will land somewhere around 51/49), four-year maxes for guaranteed contracts (easily achievable, and absolutely necessary because teams literally can't stop themselves from overpaying players and being crippled by their deals) and a slightly harder salary cap — three moves that would have gotten us 87 percent of the way there — a few of the newer owners (Cleveland's Dan Gilbert and Phoenix's Robert Sarver are the biggies) are now pushing for even more stuff and that's bogging everything down. This faction believes the players' side is crumbling because a few of the biggest NBA agents (Jeff Schwartz, Arn Tellem, etc.) lost faith in Hunter and are investigating the decertification process (which would be THE dumbest thing they could do). These owners don't just want to win this lockout, they want to take a hatchet to 65 years of progress by NBA players … who, by the way, did nothing wrong other than continue to cash in on the ridiculous contracts that owners kept giving them.
                     Let's take a step back and consider the stupidity of this. Sarver and Gilbert both overpaid for their teams and hope to blow up the system, then create a more favorable one that would cover up the fact that they overpaid for their teams. In Gilbert's case, he coddled LeBron for years, overpaid just about every player on his team (did Daniel Gibson write his deal himself?), showed no roster savvy whatsoever (his front office was really the Bizarro Sam Presti), crippled his own cap season after season, then flipped out when LeBron finally said, "I gotta get out of here, I need to play with better players"… and now he blames "the system" for what happened because there are apparently no mirrors in his house. Sarver overpaid for the Suns, realized it about a year later, then spent the next few years pinching pennies … which would have been fine if he didn't have a legitimate chance to win the title from 2005 to 2008 and also in 2010. He's the kind of guy who watched Steve Kerr build a team that came within a couple of breaks of making the 2010 Finals, then offered Kerr a pay cut. His fans hate him; hell, his own players hate him. When I made a few Sarver/Gilbert tweets yesterday, Steve Nash retweeted one of the anti-Sarver tweets.
                    Why do two owners with CLEAR AGENDAS like Sarver and Gilbert have any input here? It's a great question. The NFL had three of its best and most ruthless owners (Bob Kraft, Jerry Jones and Jerry Richardson) handling its lockout; the NBA has the likes of Sarver, Gilbert, New York's James Dolan and Minnesota's Glen Taylor involved. Have you watched how they run their teams? For god's sake, Taylor just splurged on a coach (Rick Adelman) who told him in no uncertain terms, "I am not answering to your current GM," so instead of firing that GM (David Kahn, the least respected GM in the league by a landslide), Taylor decided, "OK, you don't have to answer to him" AND KEPT BOTH GUYS!!!!!!!! And Dolan is Dolan — he's basically the train from Unstoppable at all times. Why should I expect those four owners to have great insight into solving something as complicated as a labor dispute?
                    And are we really missing games over this? You should have labor stoppages only because of real issues — like what we had in 1964, when the players nearly sat out the All-Star Game in Boston because they were being treated so badly, or in 1998, when the players were suddenly making so much money that the owners needed a better way to protect themselves. We're not even close to that. I can tell you right now where we're ending up: 51/49 split, four-year max deals, slightly harder cap. So effing get there already. Enough with the posturing. And by the way, both sides could mention the fans once in a while, or show at least a little urgency that they're about to blow all momentum from one of the best seasons in the history of the league. If they think anyone except for die-hard basketball fans will care that there's no NBA in October, November and December — when we'll be focused on the baseball playoffs, the NFL and college football — then they're even more delusional than I thought. I hate everybody in this. Seriously. Both sides make me want to throw up. That was your Anusol NBA Lockout Watch for this week. Back to football."

               Also, here is a link to a Malcolm Gladwell article with a different perspective on the nature of what it means to own an NBA team.

                   That's it. I'm done. I was gonna talk about the pimps (the owners) and the hoes (the players) a bit more but I don't need to be any more upset than I already am. We'll save it for another day.

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