David Stern’s Big Lie

Malcolm Gladwell has just penned a brilliant piece entitled “The Nets and NBA Economics” on Grantland, that exposes David Stern’s big lie regarding the profitability of the New Jersey Nets. I highly recommend it, especially for those who think that the NBA owners have been straight-up about their desperate straits. What goes for the Nets goes for every NBA franchise: the real money is made away from the public eye, behind closed books.

I also like Gladwell’s larger point, that we can see in the NBA owners’ stance a reflection of our current politics and class divisions. Who is waging war on whom?

Thanks to all who have been reporting the “progress” of the talks in the comments to this blog, as I laze through this dreary lockout. Here’s another clean well-lighted thread for your efforts.

504 Responses to David Stern’s Big Lie

  1. Well, fortunate for me, I still have not finished watching the last Warriors game from last season. It’s still on my Tivo. Finished the third quarter last night. Looks like I’m gonna have to save the fourth quarter, and perhaps spread it out over the next 3 months. :::sigh:::

  2. geraldmcgrew

    NBA Lockout Power Rankings:

  3. Great piece, FB. I’m intrigued with O’Connor’s opinion:

    “Second, the sovereign may transfer private property to private parties, often common carriers, who make the property available for the public’s use — such as with a railroad, a public utility, or a stadium.”

    Gladwell tells us:

    “An NBA franchise is not really a business. It’s a luxury good, like a piece of art, which means that making calculations about profits and losses makes no sense.”

    Which leaves me wondering what a franchise really is, or should be. I know I’m being naive, but I want to believe it is a public trust with great deference to the game itself (see O’Connor), a point that no one seems to be considering.

  4. Gladwell is brilliant, and many of his insights seem right on. But he might be missing the point of calculating profit and loss in the NBA.

    While Gladwell is probably right that some NBA owners don’t need to worry about annual P&L, some definitely must. Chris Cohan, for example, was only one of many owners to operate his team as his primary source of income. He NEEDED to keep it in the black. Joe Lacob appears to have access to more resources than Cohan so he can perhaps take a longer view, but as the CEO of an investment syndicate even he doesn’t have the freedom to let the dubs lose, say, a couple of billion dollars. CEOs get fired for that sort of thing.

    As players themselves always say around free agent time, the NBA is a business. If it bleeds enough it will die, like any business would. That makes the art of basketball the NBA’s product, not its purpose.

    If no one’s making money, we won’t see much art.

    • Though Cohan made a very healthy return on his investment, no? But point taken. Not all owners have the resources of a Prokhorov. Still, the NBA-as-investment is worrisome, especially with the inflated prices franchises have been drawing the last years. The rich invested in contemporary art in the late ’80s, leading to a huge bubble and collapse—and corruption of the NY art scene itself. It’s a troubling analogy.

      Yes, I am being sentimental.

      Moto’s comments on the other blog were good today.

      • Cohan sure did end up with a fancy ROI on the Warriors. That’s business too. And Lacob may be a passionate fan, but that’s not how he convinced a whole group of investors to go in on the Warriors. And if all his rumored plans for the team come to pass, Lacob is going to invest close to a billion.

        As a fan, I’m not wild about NBA-as-investment either. I’d also prefer to see it as a rich man’s hobby. We’d probably get better bball that way, as long as someone could keep paying the bills. But at today’s franchise selling prices we’re not talking polo ponies.

        • Which leads to my next question: How leveraged out is the NBA? I have no idea, but in a time of recession, buyers are somehow finding ways to put up big bucks for franchises. The only concrete number—challenged and suspect—we’ve heard is the loss last season (2-300 million?). After that, only vague projections of losses during the ongoing recession. The last five years grant me this skepticism: if the NBA owners are carrying a lot of debt, there may be unseen problems not brought to the table. Will the CBA be used to prop up bad investments?

          But if the NBA is a business, I think I’d be happier to let some of the struggling franchises fall, many of whose problems come from incompetence as much as their small markets.

  5. The man who has “buried bodies” in the NBA.


  6. AW on Yahoo on the increased possibility of decertification:


    I’m actually rooting for decertification (which I guess means I’ve already given up on a meaningful season in my mind). I really want to see if the owners will agree to open up their books, or whether, as I suspect, they’d rather cave.

  7. Looks like today’s NBA-UNION meeting ended with no agreement, and no future bargaining meetings likely for a few months. Not good.

  8. Looks like “Stack Jack” isn’t worried about any lockout. He’s too busy rapping and counting his “stacks”. This is the kind of image that recruits fans to the owners side of this mess.


    • I admit a certain pro-Jack bias, but this is a prudish and self-righteous article. Jackson is well-known in Texas for his philanthropy and work with kids, and can’t a guy simply have fun?

      And if I like doing Tony Montana impressions, does that make me a gangster? I see rappers frequently playing characters and assuming alter-egos in service of their art. And I think as a whole they get closer to art and closer to truth-telling than most pop singers.

      Rap on Jack!

  9. Chris Sheridan continues his optimistic view on the current situation.


  10. geraldmcgrew

    Occupy the NBA!
    “Stop the lockout!”
    “Public ownership of teams that take public money!”
    “A living wage for stadium workers!”
    “Better beer!”

    • Love it. We sure live in resonant times for this lockout.

      • “…As economist David Berri has noted, $2 billion has gone into building eight new facilities. Of that amount, 84 percent, $1.75 billion, has come out of our pockets…”

        Well… sorta. Does a loan come out of our pockets? As I understand it, government funding for the upfront cost of most arenas is either packaged as a loan, or the local government gets to be the landlord, as in Oakland.

        An arena is a money generator, and not just for NBA team owners. That’s especially true for multi-use facilities like bball arenas, where the facilities host all kinds of stuff, not just basketball. If it’s kept busy, it’s a good investment for a regional government. That’s why, even in these times, people in Sacramento are seriously listening to Kevin Johnson’s proposal to fund a new space for the Kings. The Kings won’t be the only ones holding events there.

        Football and baseball arenas are harder to fill and take longer to pay back (if ever), which might explain why Santa Clara won’t get a Niners stadium in the foreseeable future. The argument there is that an arena would benefit the whole region indirectly. That “soft dollars” argument doesn’t carry well at a time when schools are getting short-changed.

        Still, to say that rich guys are getting free arenas isn’t really the case. They may get VERY sweet deals sometimes, depending on how well they sell that “soft dollars” argument, but it ain’t exactly a free ride.

    • Hi Felt, loved the profile of West. What did you make of this section?

      Golden State’s masthead is growing rapidly. Beyond West, Guber, and Lacob, there’s general manager Larry Riley and assistant GM Bob Myers (the heir apparent). Travis Schlenk serves as assistant GM and director of player personnel. Kirk Lacob, Joe’s 23-year old son, was named director of basketball operations last year (he now serves as the GM of the Warriors’ D-League team). Former Phoenix president Rick Welts recently came aboard as the team’s president and chief operating officer. New coach Mark Jackson will be answering to all of them. Even if the two owners will have final say in all decisions, Lacob called for a dinner with West, Riley, Myers, Schlenk, and Kirk Lacob to ensure their voices would blend as one. He bristles when asked if there are too many chefs in the proverbial kitchen.

      “Everyone who says that is completely clueless,” Lacob says. “It’s a stupid thing to bring up. This is a 100-plus-million-dollar business. You have to have management. Most NBA teams are incredibly poorly architected on the basketball side. They have people who are ex-players, and Jerry West is an exception to this — but most of them are ex-players or scouts or whatever. They don’t know how to negotiate against incredibly trained killers like Arn Tellem or other agents. That’s what they do for a living. I’m not a genius. There’s a different way to do things and be successful, clearly. But it’s a very successful, thought-out map.”

      • It sounds like a dream team on paper, with the important exception of Joe Lacob himself as de facto GM. He has in my mind already proven himself incompetent in personnel decisions (Amundson, Lin, Law, Thornton, and trying desperately to trade for Kendrick Perkins).

        I will keep an open mind, however, and do my best to judge each personnel decision on its own merits.

  11. This was news to me:

    “And there’s that nagging right ankle injury; a specialist in Baltimore discovered in May that Curry had torn two ligaments. The surgery was optional, but the specialist warned him that not having it left him susceptible to constant sprains. So he had the procedure and four months of rehab.”

    Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/10/02/2656635/stephen-curry-at-davidson.html#ixzz1Zvyif7XE

    • The article only talks about a possible compromise on BRI, but there are lots of other ways to reach a deal if the owners were really interested in anything except mugging the players. For example, they could work out some form of deferred salary payout: expanded retirement benefits, player contracts structured as long term annuities, heavily back-loaded contracts or even golden parachutes wouldn’t be bad things for players whose average professional career is only 4.7 years. Any form of deferred payment helps solve the owners’ (presumed/alleged) short-term cash flow issues, and it gives the players a greater stake in the financial success of the league.

      If the players’ share of BRI is the issue, how about offering players or the union itself the option to take stock in the NBA itself in place of some BRI points? That would give them a share of the non-BRI income of the NBA (expansion franchise fees, for example) to offset a lower BRI percentage.

      How about offering to put a portion of each player’s salary toward the purchase of the Hornets, under management selected by the NBPA? The NBA finds that new team owner they’ve been desperately searching for, the players’ investment dollars go back to the NBA, and the participating players get to play with the big dogs.

      How about player-salary-funded expansion teams?

      Just a few ideas, probably crazy, I don’t know. There are probably reasons why none of this has come up.

  12. Reggie Williams signed an unconditional contract with Spain, right? I.e., he’s committed to staying there this year even if the lockout ends. What was his status with the Warriors before the lockout? Was he signed? And does this mean he’s gone for good, unless they sign him as a free agent?

    I regret this. Nelson was high on him and he provided a lot of options not developed last year. And the team will have one less piece to work with if/when the season starts.

    • I agree rgg. He was on the verge of 6th man stardom under Nellie, and suffered a completely lost season under Smart.

      The Warriors probably feel that they won’t have lost anything with the addition of Klay Thompson. But they did.

  13. What couldn’t Reggie do offensively? And note the blocks just after .46, also some of the work with Curry. Needless to say, these were 09/10 highlights.

  14. rgg, I see your one Reggie and raise you two Marcos. LOL Maybe it’s just me, and obviously Nelli always seemed to be screaming at the guy, but I’ve always liked this kid. And please, don’t tell me that trading Belinelli for Devon George made any sense whatsoever. Not that they would have made the NBA Finals otherwise (LOL) but if GSW had had Marco to go to off the bench these last few years they would have been better than what they were.

    Marco obviously isn’t any “elite” player but if you’re talking a spark off the bench he can definitely supply that, if not more. He’s still only 24 yrs old and supposedly has continued to work extremely hard on all facets of his game. For my money a more talented player than Reggie Williams.

    • “I see your one Reggie and raise you two Marcos.”

      Yes, Steve, I think Reggie is twice as good as Bellinelli! But either way, the team that has a woefully inadequate bench, especially offensively, let go of some real and affordable talent.

  15. Not resigning R.Williams last year has been Lacob’s worse move to date. And if there is no buy-out of Biedrins contract under a new amnesty provision, then not trading Biedrins last year, is Lacob’s second worse move.

  16. The Warriors losing R. Williams is not made up by drafting Clay Thompson. For if we had both R.Williams and Clay Thompson, we would have two adequate players to back-up both D. Wright and Ellis. Now, we just have one-Clay Thompson, and our bench remains as thin as ever.

  17. Rajon Rondo makes a brief comment on fans of the Warriors in this piece from Red Bull.


  18. I suspect that if the dubs want Reggie back, he’ll be back no matter what his current Euro contract says. And if they don’t want him back, let’s hope it’s because they have better alternatives. Assuming the new CBA gets signed soon, there will be an intense free agent/trading period for at least a couple of weeks early on.

    The Warriors need a LOT of new bodies. It’s not clear how they’ll get them if teams have a lower, harder cap as a result of the new CBA, but they’ll have to figure it out. ESPN lists the dubs with 16 players, but several of them aren’t expected to be available, or to be re-signed if they are available.

    Already gone:
    Acie Law

    Expected to go away in free agency:
    Vlad Rad
    Al Thornton

    Useless slacker:
    Charlie Bell

    That leaves only 11 real players under contract. Most training camps open with 18-20. Shedding Vlad and Thornton might be necessary for the team to fully staff up under the cap. What do you all think? Will they bring back Jeff Adrien?

  19. Just a thought: the dubs roster situation is even worse than it looks at first glance. Of the 11 usable players under contract, 3 are rookies, one is “hands of stone” Amundsen, and one is Jeremy Lin. That leaves 6 players for the regular rotation (if Biedrins is usable this year, otherwise just 5 players).

    Gosh. If you include trainers, the Warriors have more coaches than that.

    • white hat, the Warriors had a grand total of 4 good players last year and everyone knows they were the 4 starters not named Biedrins. The rest of the team, including the head coach? Hot garbage, and that’s being nice (OK, Udoh and Williams weren’t that bad, and I’m one of the few believers in Jeremy Lin for the future, but this team was seriously devoid of NBA talent last year).

      Hopefully their draft pans out. They need to hit a “homerun” or two to rejuvenate this roster. And it remains to be seen what kind of cap space they’ll have for free agency, which ultimately would be the quickest route to becoming a solid playoff contender. Somehow sign Nene and presto pronto, GSW returns to relevancy in the NBA playoffsphere.

      white hat, wake me when the millionaires and the billionaires come to an agreement, OK? Gawd, I hate watching rich people fight over money.

  20. Watch the Reggie YouTube above again. He can create shots, change shots in midair. He can drive, he can run the fast break. And he can pop it in midrange and long range. What I missed was his athleticism–watch those blocks again. And he showed that in his first 24 games in the NBA (plus D-league and I think he played abroad?). But most of the above was not exploited or developed in Smart’s “motion” offense. I wonder if Lacob et al. watched those games as well, or ignored them because he didn’t fit their conception of a b-ball player.

    I guess it’s possible that negotiations with Reggie got cut off by the lockout? Or, as you say, Steve, maybe he had sensed lukewarm interest and didn’t feel like taking his chances?

    Hard to believe Lacob and company weren’t planning some trades for the summer, so I suppose that’s another loss to the lockout, that even if the season starts on time, trades will be delayed until some time into the season? And of course they’re going to have to wait and see what the new CBA will allow them to do. Starting with the existing squad is going to be awfully rough.

    • You left out one thing of importance, rgg: Reggie can run the point, and he can do it from the SF position. Which as Don Nelson proved (as well as Rick Carlisle and Jason Kidd in the Championship series), can make a team very difficult to defend.

      • The other thing I wondered is if Reggie could sub in as 2 guard on occasion, simply to give Curry or especially Ellis a breather. It would also give them a larger backcourt.

        What Nelson found in Hunter, Williams, and Tolliver the ’09 season was not superstars or super athletes, but bright, skilled, versatile, motivated, and mature players, eager and willing to play, to try different things, who incidentally could score and shoot free throws. How much of that can be said about the current bench, really anyone after the top four players?

  21. “Top 20 Free Agents”………Another reminder that this season’s class leaves much to be desired. If Nene is looking for max dollars he won’t be playing here. Here’s where you need a good bargain shopper. Hmmm, my Mom knows basketball and she’s dynamite with coupons? Maybe email her number to Lacob?? LOL


    • And yet the Warriors have hinted they will be players in the Nene sweepstakes. Might they possibly be considering a Biedrins buyout? I doubt Denver would want a sign and trade including Beans.

      • “YI JIANLIAN: OK, so he’s not the next Yao Ming, and Dan Fegan won’t be able to dupe anybody this time around. But he’s not the next Wang Zhizhi, either. He’s about to turn 24 and needs to ignore 1.3 billion people and just play. BEST FIT: Yi probably would feel most at home with the Warriors”


  22. Feltbot,

    I like the new format a lot. Very easy to read for these not overly young eyes. I do wish we had a basketball season and players to discuss, but alas, we are reduced to reading about rich people fighting. I like the front office hires I’ve seen. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could see what kind of team they could put together?

    Do you think the fact that Biedrins has not participated in any of the Warriors activities here means anything other than that he lives in Europe and is a new father? I would like to say that I’m not reading anything into his lack of participation, but I am so sour on him that it’s impossible to be impartial.

    OT: Steve, thanks again for the David Ruffin. It was a bright spot in an otherwise dreary no NBA basketball day.

    • Glad you like the new format andria. It was a collaborative effort with everyone here, none of whom appear to be “overly young.” :>

      I don’t see any reason for Beans to be back here now that many players are headed where he is. And unfortunately, I don’t think the Warriors could get rid of him if they wanted to.

    • Andria, my pleasure. I’m glad you caught that.

      As for the “young” comment (aside from “parts” wearing out), remember age is only a number. I do admit that videos like these make me a bit jealous, that is until I think about all that running and weight lifting. :) Let’s hope we get some NBA hoops pretty soon.

  23. Feltie, you’re probably right about being stuck with Biedrins, but there have been a lot of rumors about the new CBA including an “amnesty” allowing teams to drop 1 player from cap considerations. In that case, the Warriors may have the option to buy out Biedrins.

    However, the Lacob Warriors seem to suffer from gridlock on player decisions, so they probably won’t write off Biedrins until he conclusively proves that the younger, better Beans won’t be back. A shortened season won’t leave much time to decide on that. Let’s hope that whenever the season does start Biedrins immediately demonstrates that he’s either terrific or awful, and not just “promising.”

    • I firmly believe that Biedrins has a chronic abdomen injury and is washed up, and that the Warriors are aware of this. And I think they’re trying to keep the news from other GMs, with what success I don’t know.

      The amnesty would be a godsend.

      • I was surprised when I looked at AB’s game log last year. He only played 55 games and averaged only about 23 minutes during those games. I remember ankle problems, but hard to believe more wasn’t going on. Smart certainly gave him every chance to develop. Is there any reason to think he’ll play any more minutes this year, assuming a season? Replacing him has to be a top priority for mgmnt.

  24. OK, because the NBA has us sitting on our hands and it’s that time of year and I don’t know where else to put this, I have a proposal for–

    College football playoffs

    One of the things that drives me crazy in sports is how large decisions are made on insufficient information ( NBA drafts and trades, for example). Years ago, the nation was screaming that Ohio State should have played Michigan for the title. They probably should have played together–for the 4th or 5th spot. Both lost their bowl games big, to Florida and USC, I recall. So here’s my proposal.

    By all means keep the conferences (although I find these megaconferences disgusting), but for college football do something different. Create a football playoff conference for the nation. Divide the country into four strict geographical areas and create four playoff divisions, N1, S1, MW1, and W1 (North, South, Midwest, West [or Northwest, Southwest]), using the Mason Dixon line, Mississippi River, etc. to divide. Select the best 13 teams from each region for the four divisions, regardless of conference, and have each play the other teams once. Or if you want to go whole hog, select 7 teams and have them play each other twice, home and away. The conferences can brag on how many teams they place in the playoff divisions or use it as motivation to get their programs going. S1 could well be all SEC for a long time.

    Also in each division, create 3-4 more subdivisions, S2, S3, S4, etc., roughly equal in ability and of manageable size. (I haven’t worked the numbers, but each region should be good for 3). See below as to why.

    Playoffs: every year, the winners of the regular season in each conference playoff division play, North (N1) plays South (S1); Midwest (MW1) plays West (W1). The winners play for the title. A two game playoff, which is enough.

    But here’s the part I like. Postseason, the winners of the subdivisions play the bottom teams of the playoff conference, i.e., the top teams of W2, W3, and W4 play the 11th., 12th. and 13th. place teams in W1. The winners of these games go to the playoff conference the next year, W1. Losers go to W2, W3, and W4–and out of the playoff contention. The system would be self-sustaining after the first year. And if the nation wants more bowl games, there are plenty of possibilities–the runner ups in the finals, whatever.

    I can think of all kinds of reasons such a system will never happen, most not good, but think of the advantages:

    1. It will stop all those routs we see which are boring and show a base disrespect for the game as well as the afflicted players and schools.

    2. And it will give weaker teams in the big conferences a place where they might play in a more equal competitive environment.

    3. Good teams in weak conferences, such as Boise State, would have a straight shot to the title, at least in a year. If they’re in W2, say, the first year, they win that and the playoff game, next year they’re in W1 and can make a run for the title–against real competition.

    4. It would take the absurd pressure off playoff hopefuls to win big and not lose a single game in order to impress the rankings and bowls, as they have to deal with now. And I doubt we’d see many undefeated teams in any of the playoff divisions.

    5. It would end all this endless and senseless discussion about rankings and who goes where. This system is automatic. (I think the proposed 16 team playoff would be a nightmare. There’s no good way to select 16 teams and I don’t think accurate seedings, which are everything to that plan, are possible.)

    6. Fans would get a lot of damn good games and meaningful ones, more attention could be paid just to winning the regional divisions instead of impressing the nation. And winning W1, MW1, N1, or S1 would be a very big deal in itself.

    7. As the season progresses, fans and writers would know exactly what each win and loss means in the overall playoff picture.

    8. It might restore regional interest in the teams, which these megaconferences are destroying.

    9. Oh yes, we get a national winner.

  25. “Hunter said it could be a month or two before sides meet again”. Alright, Sheridan, your turn next.


  26. let us hope that somewhere in the ranks of the owners there’s someone with the spirit and courage of the late, great Al Davis, who said he felt he had more in common with his players and never would want to be like his owner brethren. Davis played a significant role as peace maker in the last rewriting of the treaty with the n.f.l. players assoc. when Upshaw was still its prez. He should always be remembered for taking on the n.f.l. would-be monopoly and winning.

    instead, Stern and co. are so confident in that they chose to dictate a huge concession from the players to even keep the faint possibility of an intact season viable, and expect the public to swallow their version that the players refuse to parley. it confirms the hypothesis that the league intended to follow the n.h.l. route all along, writing off the season to radically reduce labour costs. how soon the sessions resume in the next few weeks will reveal how much control over the league the hard line faction of owners can exert.

    • The lockout and threat of a season shutdown are just negotiating tactics. If they work to save the owners a few billion, they’d consider themselves smart for playing hardball. How well the owners’ gambits are actually going to work is up to the union.

      I don’t think it’s going to work all that well. Canceling games costs the billionaires more than it costs the millionaires – not just in lost revenue (estimated gate receipts alone are $200 million per week), but also in buying their way out of all the contracts they signed for the goods, facilities and services they use for games. The players don’t have that kind of burn rate.

      After holding firm for over a year, Stern and co. have raised their offer several times in the last 3 days. They’ll deal, if the union hangs tough now.

  27. OT: In another (NBA) non-related news item fresh off the presses a new Guinness Book of World Records feat was set in Australia this past week as the old Bikini Parade mark was shattered.

    Yes, 357 bikini-clad females paraded, breaking the record of 331 set last year in the Cayman Islands. And just to make sure that number is accurate I’m now on my 10th viewing of this record breaking parade (to this point everything seems legit). Stay tuned for further developments.

  28. Steve,

    You are truly the master of videos, and I’m sure everyone here appreciates the dedication you bring to your mission to ensure accuracy in bikini reporting. While we are at it, don’t you think it would be a good idea to improve our minds with a little more vocabulary expansion? Where is the utterly adorable “intelligence is sexy” lady?

    The other day Bob Fitzgerald was riding solo on his KNBR show, and the topic of the day was something along the lines of “what would you change about a sport?” There were various ideas about baseball and football, but I don’t remember anything specifically about the NBA. (Maybe he can’t talk about it.)

    Feltbot, what would you change about the NBA game if you wrote the rules? A designated free throw shooter to save us from the Biedrins of the basketball world?

    • Bless you, Steve.

      Andria, I can’t speak for Feltbot but here’s my list:

      No more ticky-tack fouls. If it didn’t affect the play, it’s a no-call. If contact was initiated by the offensive player, it’s a no-call or an offensive foul. When in doubt, it’s a no-call. And the hand is part of the ball. I’m TOTALLY sick of VIPs getting an automatic FT with every shot.

      Turn back the clock on traveling. The LeBron 3-step would have been traveling in the 90s and before. So would the Kobe shuffle-spin and Monta’s 10-yard rush to the hoop. Players need to dribble the ball, that’s the deal.

      Bring back celebrations, gestures, smirks, staredowns, and taunting in all its forms. It’s the single aspect of Dennis Rodman’s game that really elevated him to a hall-of-famer. Gary Peyton should be in the hall for his mouth alone. Would anyone even remember Dikembe Mutombo without the finger waggle? Messing with the other team’s heads is part of the game. It’s fun.

    • Andria, did you say “designated free throw shooter”? Absolutely genius! Steph Curry to shoot ALL GSW free throws in 2011-12!! If only…..

      Per your request/suggestion, and in light of the Bikini Parade, which makes this very topical, here’s that substitute teacher I unfortunately never had to teach us the origin of the word “Boobs”. (Felt, if this blog looks suddenly likes it’s going all to hell look no further than David Stern, the owners, the players, and Andria for the real root of the problem.)

  29. I like the direction this blog is taking! This literature major already had a predilection for etymology, but now it’s becoming an obsession…

    Andria, thanks for giving the comments a kick in the pants. I agree with all of WH’s proposals, but unfortunately can’t get on board with yours. The designated free throw shooter would take away one of the biggest traps for idiot GM’s (who regularly sign losing basketball players like Lou Amundson, fat Shaq, and the post-ACL Kendrick Perkins) that exists, and thus deprive the Warriors management of one of the biggest edges that Don Nelson found in his career.

    Oh wait, our GM… OK, yes, I’m in favor of the designated free throw shooter.

  30. Bless you again, Steve. Deeply. Sincerely.

    Less fascinating, but also big fun, here’s Dennis Rodman taunting:


    Truly a master.

    • One of the all-time greats WH, and one of my all-time favorite basketball players. What he did to Shawn Kemp and Karl Malone in successive Finals is enshrined in my memory. Which is why I initially held out such hope for Anthony Randolph, who had all of Rodman’s brain-melting talent, but none of his will to win.

      • ‘will to win’ was absent from Randolph’s composition because his hoops education was deficient in his acquisition of ‘how to win’ — from high school to LSU to oaktown he didn’t play on winners. that was a yellow flag from his Dal high school career, that he put up big stats on losing teams. he could barely focus on the necessities of playing team ball at all when he was drafted by Mullin — even focused practices were foreign to him his rookie season.

        • Yeah, Randolph was just clueless about team play. I keep hoping he’ll figure things out, but two good coaches have already given up on him. To me, the best thing about Rodman was the joy he brought to the game. Randolph’s game, when he’s involved, mostly seems angry.

  31. An update on the update. Just get the dang thing done, NOW! I think I’m gonna go count those bikinis again…..either that or do some homework.


  32. 49s:

    What a difference an inspired head coach makes. All of a sudden we’re finding out how good some players are, how well they can play together, how role players can play roles, given the right roles. My dominant impression of Alex Smith the last years was of his running for his life or pulling grass out of his helmet. He never had this chance before.

  33. They’ve been talking for dozens of hours, but I wonder what about. Their positions are clear, no one’s budging, and can be stated in a few minutes. And since the books are closed, there can’t be any substantive talk.

    Has anyone made a sophisticated, independent analysis of how the various proposals might work out, the cap proposals, etc.? But without the numbers revealed I assume this is impossible.

  34. Sure you all know by now that Stern cancelled first two weeks of season. David Lord of DB.com expected this, but thinks chances good they’ll be made up in late April:

  35. No NBA basketball on TV? Never fear, Captain Video is here!

  36. Curry doesn’t plan to play overseas; instead, he’ll return to Davidson College to continue his education. His next basketball game could be a charity contest between current Warriors and those who played on the franchise’s 2007 Warriors playoff team.

    “It looks like I’ll have time to play in it,” Curry said.

  37. Anybody know what happened the last CBA agreement? Presumably the owners held out and the players caved in after a lengthy lockout, yet held out for the current agreement, which owners now want to gut dramatically. (What, in fact, is a fair agreement?)

    • What a lot of the news commentary overlooks is that the current CBA negotiations aren’t just about the money. The players’ association has indicated they’re willing to live with lower pay, to a degree. At last report, they have already agreed to cede 4 BRI points, essentially reducing their members’ income by billions of dollars, not merely millions.

      I think it’s remarkably generous of the NBPA to cede that much money without any honest supporting evidence from the owners, but it is safe to assume that things aren’t going as well for the NBA now as they were at the time the last CBA was written. So it may be generous but it’s not crazy, and it does indicate a sincere willingness to deal.

      Unfortunately for all concerned, the owners are additionally insisting on eliminating much of the players’ job security and the control they can exercise over their own careers. That’s a problem on many fronts, and it’s the larger sticking point now. Would you want to work for an employer knowing you didn’t have the right to quit and find an equivalent job elsewhere (NBA teams cooperate to act as a monopoly with the tacit agreement of the government and the union. There IS no other equivalent employer)? What if you never, ever earned the right to choose where you worked (under the old CBA veteran players could decline trades)? What if you took a job where work injury was almost a certainty, but your employer wanted to eliminate any protection from it (that’s what happens with short non-guaranteed contracts)?

      The players’ union has problems with those new provisions. In any normal industry the NLRB and OSHA would have problems with them too. Insisting on them makes the NBA even more susceptible to anti-monopoly legal action. If the union decided to go that route, the NBA would lose, as recently demonstrated by the NFL. ALL other US businesses operate without what the NBA owners are asking of the players’ union in the current CBA negotiations.

      The owners see the union caving on this deal, and they have a lot invested in that prediction. Maybe they’re right. I think reducing job security and personal liberty touches some blazing hot points with employees of any sort, in any business. If that’s true, the NBA isn’t going back to work until the owners back off on some demands that would be frankly illegal in any other industry.

      I’m pretty sure the word “fair” doesn’t play anywhere in this mess. Maybe the only question here is what level of “unfairness” the players’ union is willing to put up with for what, by any standard, at any foreseeable BRI percentage, is still going to be some pretty darn good pay.

      • “I’m pretty sure the word ‘fair’ doesn’t play anywhere in this mess.”

        Another piece of fallout is that we will probably never know what the CBA mess is really about.

        The NBA is different from other businesses in many respects. For one, it is an investment that is inherently very risky. Bad drafts, one or two injuries, having a good player go south halfway through his career, etc., and the enterprise is in peril. It should take a special type of investor to buy into the league, and he should be able to manage these exceptional risks. But what the league is asking is that the players absorb the losses from the risks.

        When does the WNBA start?

        • “For one, it is an investment that is inherently very risky.”

          Not necessarily. By all reports, Cohan’s Warriors always turned a profit even when the team stank. They kept costs down and put butts in seats by every means possible. It’s not a business model for a great team, but it did reliably keep the business out of trouble.

  38. To understand this thing I suspect you need to listen to the individual voices of the owners, especially those less successful and/0r in smaller markets. (Imagine what Donald Sterling is saying.) There are probably many fractures here. But of course we’ll never hear them.

    As for the minority voices, I wonder if what is being protected is not their greed but their incompetence, or at least their inability to compete, maybe even their indifference to the quality of their investments. Many of the owners’ proposals–hard cap, shortened contracts, etc.–I don’t think will make the league more competitive at all.

    As for the owners who are complaining they can’t keep their stars, I have no sympathy at all. Minnesota did nothing with KG, Toronto not much with Bosh, and Cleveland had James for a full 7 years, right? An eternity in the NBA. But also the Miami players expressed their true desires: they wanted to play on a competitive team and took contracts below market value (though hefty). Miami’s payroll is close to the proposed $62m cap, isn’t it? The difference between Miami and Cleveland is not unfairness allowed by the past CBA. The difference between Miami and Cleveland is Pat Riley.

    I might listen to Memphis and OKC owners, though, who have put good teams on the floor and might need a little help–from the owners–to keep their players and bolster their good decisions (and good luck in drafting).

  39. It’s time to meet the owners. As a public service, I suggest an Owner of the Week profile. This week’s owner, Donald Sterling.

    “For more than two years, Sterling has been staring down federal civil rights charges related to his real estate holdings and rental practices. According to the Justice Department, Sterling, his wife and three of his companies have engaged in discrimination, principally by refusing to rent to African-Americans. In February, Elgin Baylor, the Clippers GM from 1986 to 2008, filed an age and racial discrimination suit against his old boss alleging, among other things, that Sterling repeatedly expressed a desire to field a team of ‘poor black boys from the South … playing for a white coach.'”

    His record?

    “Suffice it to say that 2008-09 marks the seventh time the Clippers have lost 60 games in a season and the 17th time they’ve lost 50 since Sterling moved them to Los Angeles 25 years ago, both achievements unequaled by any other team in the league over this period.”


    • rgg, I already posted a video of Donald Sterling. That’s him with his space helmet watching Captain Video. Point is I don’t know who’s more hilarious (unless you’re a Clippers fan), Sterling or Ed Norton?

  40. Meet the owners: George Shinn, New Orleans:

    “Truth be told, NBA commissioner David Stern told Shinn to get his fanny back to New Orleans, because Shinn wanted to relocate to Oklahoma City and never look back. He was too poor to be an NBA owner, and nickel-and-dimed his franchises to mediocrity. His sexual assault civil trial in Charlotte turned one of the best, most supportive expansion cities ever into a dispassionate fandom that would never believe in the NBA again.”

    From AW at Yahoo here:

    Yes I know I’ve picked the two worst examples and that Shinn stepped down last year, but Stern and the league approved him at some point. Which leads to another question: the NBA somehow owns NO now, right? So who is representing NO in the CBA now?

    I’ll take help here if anyone’s of a mind.
    (Wow, I’m in a foul mood about this week.)

  41. Meet the owners: the Maloof family, Sacramento

    Headline: Maloofs Now Own Just 2 Percent Of Palms And No Longer Run Resort, Putting Kings’ Finances In Question


    “The Maloofs continually maintain that they are in good financial shape. Two years ago, they sold what was the original family business: a major beer distributorship in New Mexico. They also shuttered the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs. The loss of the Palms leaves the Kings as their only major business.”

  42. Don’t know about you guys but I’m having a lot of trouble finding new comments when they are nested on previous comments. I’ll leave the feature up for those who like it, but if you’d like to have your comments seen by me and others, I would suggest resorting to the “@#” method rather than nesting.

    • Felt, you read my mind. When I come here I would like to see any and all new comments. The “nesting” makes it tough to do that.

      I vote to go back to the old style.

      • Clicking on a comment in “Recent Comments” seems to take you to that comment? It may not be a problem once (when/if) the season starts and posts start rolling every week.

        More fallout from the lockout. . . .

  43. Meet the owners: and of course there was Ratner of the Nets.

    “What he did has nothing whatsoever to do with basketball. Ratner didn’t buy the Nets as a stand-alone commercial enterprise in the hopes that ticket sales and television revenue would exceed players’ salaries and administration costs. Ratner was buying eminent domain insurance. Basketball also had very little to do with Ratner’s sale of the Nets. Ratner got hit by the recession. Fighting the court challenges to his project took longer than he thought. He became dangerously overextended.”

    But then Prokhorov bailed Ratner out. From the Sheridan piece Feltbot showed us:

    One of the questions I have is how sound the financing and investments are that lie behind recent mammoth purchases, as well as the projected income. And as usual I know zip. Lacob, I assume, based his purchase of the Warriors in part on TV revenues from Comcast. How solid is this income? I only note that on the broadcasts the past two years, there aren’t big advertisers, or many advertisers at all, and that they repeat ads mercilessly (and most of them suck). If Comcast doesn’t make its projected income, will they have to change their contract with the Warriors? Or will they pass the costs on to subscribers–who might bail?

  44. Talks to resume. Might as well look like you’re trying, right?


  45. So the sticking point is the cap?

    “I think where our paths separate is that they believe to the extent they’re willing to make economic concessions that we should be willing to leave the current system largely intact, and our view is that the current system is broken in that 30 teams are not in a position to compete for championships,” Silver said Monday after the league canceled the first two weeks of the regular season.


    A position to compete for championships–unless Silver misspoke, this is a ridiculous expectation. It sounds like the lesser teams aren’t trying to improve competition but bring it down to their level. Given the extraordinary influence of a handful of franchise players in the league, the only way I can think to help any team get to the championship is to force a team to give up a franchise player after a few years, hold a lottery for that player, and let another team take him at bargain price.

    Any team that wants to be competitive needs to take risks but also needs flexibility to adapt. Risk and flexibility are expensive. Under a hard cap, the Warriors, who desperately need a center, could be stuck where they are for years. Also good players, such as power forwards, are in short supply. Teams might be in a position to get one piece they need, but not two. David Lee–and I’m a huge supporter–has a very hefty contract, but the truth of the matter is his salary was the going rate at the time. Looking at the last two years, under a tight cap, the Warriors would be in a position to get either a good power forward or a center, but not both.

    Anybody who knows what he’s talking about have an opinion on this “soft” hard cap?

    • But I suspect the owners, like me, are flying by the seat of their pants. Has ANYBODY (I repeat) made an independent, sophisticated analysis of the various cap proposals, and if they have, why isn’t it made public?

    • (I can’t leave this alone today.)
      The system is also screwed up by the very rich (Prokhorov?) who spend lavishly on bad decisions. But even if we take the owners at their word, that they are losing money, what we’re not hearing is why they’re losing money. Minority owners are blaming the past CBA. No one is looking at those teams themselves, their management.

  46. Sorry I don’t have anything to offer on capology rgg. To say I have zero interest is an understatement.

    This is more up my alley: Who will be this lockout’s Shawn Kemp?


  47. Silver is speaking to the press in vague euphemisms, but he’s very specific when talking to the players: No Bird rights, no player veto power over trades, shorter contracts, fewer guaranteed contracts, and a lower overall payroll league-wide. And we want this deal for 10 years, not the usual 5-6. And, no, we won’t revisit any of this when we get our massive new TV contract in 2012. And of course we won’t open our books to show why this is all necessary.

    It may or may not all be necessary, but taken together it’s a demand for a huge rollback in player rights, job security and compensation, not to mention management relations.

    But Stern and Silver don’t say that to the press. There, they’re “dealing with structural issues.” Niceynice phrase.

  48. rgg, the cap proposals haven’t been officially disclosed to the public, because of the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ the two sides have about not giving the media details about negotiating points. This is a positive measure in principle, but cedes an advantage to Stern and co. who can influence the public discourse in many other ways with their bottomless pockets for p.r. and battalions of lawyers et.al. The extent that Stern and co. revel in their leverage over the players was demonstrated by the recent incident when they chose to violate that agreement, and told the media they’d offered a 50-50 split ‘informally’ at the very end of a negotiating session.

    Some details about what the oxymoronic ‘soft-hard/flex’ cap might include have been publicized. The ‘mid-level exemption’ that teams used when they’ve exceeded the cap under the former c.b.a. had a max amount of over 5 m. per annum with healthy annual increases over the term of the deals. A hard cap of course would eliminate such exceptions, but a substantial reduction closer to 3m./yr. has been mentioned. The notion of ‘soft-hard’ is perhaps best expressed in the progressive lux tax penalties that Stern and co. have proposed, so a team that exceeded the cap and paid around 40m. in lux tax like LA would be penalized closer to 200m. under the escalating scale. Another point of contention that would affect ‘cap discipline’ is the maximum length of multi-year deals — which was six for retaining a player on a re-signing, and five for someone changing teams. The owners of course wish to cut those terms, the numbers mentioned would cut them by two years.

    The owners would prefer the public not focus on their grand deals to substantially boost revenues while they’re essentially blaming the players for teams going in the red. LA, with Time-Warner, and Bos, with comcast-NE, both have multi-billion deals coming, and there are grand schemes to exploit the huge increase in t.v.s per household that progresses like a juggernaut through the eastern mass of Eurasia.

  49. @feltbot re the Kemp competition: Carmelo might be worth small wager.

  50. David Stern with another one of his veiled threats. This guy has become the NBA’s version of Donald Fehr (during the volatile times of baseball’s past labor problems), where every and any time you see his mug on your TV screen you feel like hurling some heavy object toward your poor innocent television.


  51. “The Dim-Witted Dozen”………

    “The fallout from Donaghy continues to impact the league. In addition to the enhanced public perception that NBA games are not on the up-and-up, the overhaul of the officiating department may have impacted the recent resignations of – among others – Steve Javie, Bob Delaney, Mark Wunderlich, Joe DeRosa, Jack Nies and Joe Forte, all of whom worked NBA Finals games in the last five years. That’s a lot of skill, experience and integrity to replace.” Wasn’t aware that Delaney had resigned. Interesting.


  52. “Now, I feel for the players, who really don’t make as much money as you might think they do. The average salary argument doesn’t work because you’ve got guys making $15, $17 or $22 million per year. If five people own houses worth $300,000 and someone builds a $1 million house down the block, the average value of the homes is $416,666. Except, there’s only one problem: the value of those original five houses remains $300,000.

    David Stern has been making the argument that the average salary in the NBA would rise to $7 million per year under the players’ latest proposal. But the median income in the NBA is $2.33 million a year (that’s from the 2009-10 season, according to USA Today).

    You might say, “But Jacob, that’s still a hell of a lot more than I make.” And it is.

    But, then take into consideration that these guys, on average, are working in the NBA for only five years.”

    Hmmm, $2.3MM x 5 yrs = a long, happy life on some South Pacific island (or wherever your dream retirement digs are located). Only five years, what a shame. LOL Is this guy serious?


  53. Thanks, gents. I’ve read about a half dozen reports along the way about exactly what was at stake, and each varies. It sounds like the owners aren’t budging much at all, that not only do they want a larger cut of the profits, they’re also hobbling the game.

    I am running out of steam here. . . .

    Mediator next week–I assume a best case scenario is 3-4 weeks for a settlement, worst is mediation fails and the season goes.

    • Tolliver is worth the read. And to think the W’s let him go. If nothing else, he could have been player rep instead of Bell. Curry, though, I understand, is Bell’s backup.

  54. Steve, thanks for all the links. One of the two videos in your (73) is the same as in (81).

    Stern gives himself away when he delivers his dire warning about the cost of the already cancelled games, with further cancellations necessarily coming out of the players’ pockets and shrinking the offers he’ll make at the treaty talks. There’s a big smirk on his face after he says this, but since we’re on a network/site owned by the league, the camera doesn’t stay on it for long. Of course, his expression is funereal in the opening, describing how the previous c.b.a. made it impossible to function financially or competitively, and he shows serious concern talking about the non-athlete employees of the teams and arenas who face decreased or eliminated incomes. The smirk tells the truth — canceling games can be his double edged blade, squeezing the players’ incomes both in the immediate term and in the subsequent settlement ; ‘t’was their preferred course all along.

    He attempts a different jive-shuffle a bit further on when he attempts to emphasize how his side has treated with the opponents in good faith and honour, then basically says Hunter is a liar for denying he heard the ’50-50 split’ offer made at the very end of a long session. He attempts to ridicule the players’ lux tax proposal for an 11m. penalty for exceeding the cap by 10m., but leaves out the little details about the actual cap amount and when the tax would be imposed — at present, there’s a multi-million margin the cap can be exceeded before the penalty zone starts, so without the context of where those lines were set in the proposed treaty the significance of that 11m. penalty is obscure. None the less, he makes sure we know he’s only giving us the ‘facts’.

  55. Hunter fires back. Bottom line, you can forget about any NBA games being played in the near future.


  56. If you’re a big sports fan this is a must listen. Bill Simmons and Al Michaels on The B.S. Report.


  57. Meet the owners, Tom Gores, who just bought the Pistons for $325m:

    As my team and I studied PS&E, what really hit me is this is not just a sports team. It’s a reasonably complicated entertainment company. It has a stadium it owns that holds many events, two other concert centers, and it owns a little imaging company. The venues really are incredible assets, and other buyers weren’t really paying attention to them. Once I saw all the pieces I said, “Geez, this is right up our alley. It engages all the things we do in the LBO business.”


    This sounds familiar (cf. Lacob and Guber) and I suspect is the future: the NBA as part of a mega entertainment investment package.

  58. Love this Meet the Owners series, rgg. You’re providing a very valuable service. I don’t know how anyone can read Tom Gores’ comment above and not realize the real reason that David Stern and the owners are refusing to open their books.

    It’s not just about basketball revenues. It’s about ancillary businesses, it’s about tax loopholes, it’s about sweetheart real-estate deals (New Jersey errr… Brooklyn Nets), it’s about expansion and the lucrative franchise fees that brings, and it’s about the ASSETS.

    • What Gores and others are doing now bears watching, because if they succeed (or appear to succeed) they could be setting the trend in the future. And this new trend diminishes the role of players even more, as well as the game. But also if these mega deals grow and then fail–how are they making such huge investments when no one else can make such outlays in anything else now?–they will take the sport with them. There could be instability ahead.

      What I most resent is calling sports entertainment. Sports is not entertainment. It is sports, a category unto itself. In entertainment, we see handsome actors follow preset roles to a predictable ending, faking excitement and injuries along the way. In sports we see real people battling in real life, where everything is unpredicted and the personal stakes are high, sometimes tragic.

  59. @ rgg: Gores has a lot in common with Lacob, and to Stern they might represent the preferred NBA owners of the future. They bring proven management skills, deeper pockets than the old-generation single-family owners, and a vision of professionalism that is probably less about team competitiveness and more about corporate success.

    For just one example of that business-oriented mindset in Lacob, his team ran with a short roster last year, and still has only 4 above-average players – but he hasn’t hesitated to double (triple?) the front office management payroll. Lacob may well be a huge fan, but his actions to date show his priorities, I think.

    Re sports being entertainment, well, it is, for marketing purposes. It’s a product that sells against all other equivalent forms of consumer entertainment. That feels like sacrilege to serious followers of a sport, but the majority of butts in most arenas belong to casual fans, not the devoted. We nuts are going to buy our tickets regardless. They don’t bother targeting us with slogans like “A good time out™.”

  60. White Hat,

    Point taken, and I credit Lacob for his genuine interest the game, his desire to create a winning team (though I accept the criticism of his decisions that have appeared on this blog and casually wonder if he’s making the team organization top heavy, a la Dallas Cowboys). These guys have to be sound financially and have to have sound financial plans. Shinn and the Maloofs–and their organizations–suffer because they aren’t so strong.

    Meet the owners, Herb Kohl, Milwaukee Bucks:
    Looking through Kohl’s disclosures, we see that the Bucks tapped the NBA’s facility in 2003, 2009 and 2010. The exact amount of the draws isn’t listed, but ranges are given which provide a ballpark. In 2003 the Bucks took out three loans of various tenor: one year (between $25-50 million at LIBOR + .675%), seven years (between $5-25 million at 4.30%), and ten years ($25-50 million at 4.95%).

    Since he’s a politician, his finances are on record–there’s a link in this article. The Bucks are an OK team who have made it to the playoffs several times, though in a very weak division. And they may well be struggling.

    Meet the owners, Paul Allen, Portland Trailblazers:
    The Blazers are valued at approximately $300 million according to a 2006 issue of Forbes.[47] Allen has been asking Portland and Oregon officials for assistance in the financing of the Blazers since 2006, which he estimated would lose $100 million over the next three years.[48] Then-Portland Mayor Tom Potter rebuffed the requests.[49] Allen announced the completion of the acquisition of the Rose Garden on April 2, 2007, and stated that this was a major milestone and a positive step for the franchise.[50] He said, “My efforts are focused on continuing to support the Trail Blazers and the long-term financial health of the franchise.”[51]

    Allen sounds like an OK guy as well with good interest as well in a franchise with a long history. Also he has a ton of money–but we shouldn’t expect him to take losses year after year.

    (It should be apparent my research is quick and sketchy.)

  61. en·ter·tain·ment (ntr-tnmnt)
    1. The act of entertaining.
    2. The art or field of entertaining.
    3. Something that amuses, pleases, or diverts, especially a performance or show.
    4. The pleasure afforded by being entertained.

    rgg, sports is without question a form of entertainment.

    I’m a Giants fan, but that doesn’t mean I only watch Giants’ games. I watch a ton of baseball games each season because the sport of baseball is highly entertaining to watch for me personally. That’s also true for other sports such as football and of course basketball.

    In sports, athletes put on a “show” of competition with fans as the audience captivated and entertained by the ultimate question…….who will win?

    When it comes to Hollywood, movie stars portray characters and act out situations that hopefully (“Make sure you don’t tell me the ending”) keep the audience on edge and entertained (Does the bad guy get killed? Get away? Which couple lives happily ever after? Do they find a cure for his/her illness? etc etc).

    Then again, not knowing the ending of a movie or athletic event isn’t a prerequisite for being entertained. There are countless songs that we’ve all heard a thousand times yet they never get old or fail to entertain at the highest level. And how many times have we all watched old movies or sporting events where every move and play has already been well documented in our minds?

    What would life be without some form of entertainment? If you love music, movies AND sports, just to name three, the answer is pretty obvious.

    • Steve,

      I respectfully disagree. Sports can be awfully entertaining, but when entertainment becomes the primary purpose, sports is corrupted, and we’ve seen this happen. And there’s nothing entertaining about seeing a player tear his ACL and lie in a crumpled mass on the floor. Sports puts reality on the line. But here’s my ultimate proof: go up to a team, say the Boston Celtics, especially Kevin Garnett, after they lose or even after they win, and tell them you found their performance that night entertaining.

      Then start running.

      Sports is sports.

  62. @ rgg: I’ll be convinced of Lacob’s passion about the game when he upgrades his team roster, or at least fills it. Until then, not so sure. Anyone in his position would talk passion, winning, etc., whether or not he gave a damn.

  63. “NBA’s morning shootaround turns 40″…….(Some funny stories, including one about Nelli’s dog)


  64. Good story about Karron Johnson. Hard not to root for this kid after reading this.


  65. I predict nothing will happen next week. I also predict many threats and ultimatums and much posturing. I also predict I will become fed up with the whole mess. Sheesh, guys. How much longer can we keep this up?

    Here’s what will happen Tuesday:

  66. rgg | October 15, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Reply Steve,

    I respectfully disagree. Sports can be awfully entertaining, but when entertainment becomes the primary purpose, sports is corrupted, and we’ve seen this happen. And there’s nothing entertaining about seeing a player tear his ACL and lie in a crumpled mass on the floor. Sports puts reality on the line. But here’s my ultimate proof: go up to a team, say the Boston Celtics, especially Kevin Garnett, after they lose or even after they win, and tell them you found their performance that night entertaining.

    Then start running.

    Sports is sports.


    “And there’s nothing entertaining about seeing a player tear his ACL and lie in a crumpled mass on the floor.”

    Well, there are definitely folks who are entertained by injuries/blood/battered bodies given the sport of boxing, but for the most part no one wants to see anyone hurt in whatever your sport of choice. Unfortunately, injuries are a part of athletic competition. That doesn’t mean the sport itself, or it’s entertainment value, is diminished by the occasional injuries that inevitably occur. If you see someone “tear his ACL” are you going to stop watching that sport? No, and the reason is that the sport, the game, the competition, “amuses, pleases, and diverts”. It’s entertainment by the very definition of the word regardless of the results or unfortunate injuries.

    Why have I always loved Don Nelson coached basketball teams? Because I don’t want to watch 80-79, I want to watch 130-128. I don’t want to watch “3 yards and a cloud of dust”, I want to watch “the world’s fastest human”, Bullet Bob Hayes, catch 80 yard touchdown passes.

    Only one team wins the championship trophy so the bottom line for my sports dollar is what style of play does my team take to their games? If the Warriors can’t win the NBA championship at least be an exciting team to watch. And if we’re talking “exciting” vs “boring” then we’re talking entertainment value, which directly correlates to fan enthusiasm, which further correlates to television ratings and ticket revenues. Entertainment value is the wheel that drives the sports bus. Oops, there’s that sports/entertainment connection again.

    Lastly, IMO, if you tell any player in sports, Kevin Garnett included, that you find their performance entertaining they’ll at the very least feel complimented and probably say “Thank you”.

    rgg, you’ve got me befuddled by your take on the subject of sports as it relates to entertainment? In fact, right off the bat you state “sports can be very entertaining” so I guess I’m confused by your reluctance to combine one with the other (despite doing so with your words in this particular instance). Whatever, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. Hell, not talking about the lockout can’t be all bad.

    • Anything to get away from the CBA–

      Many Hollywood actors and rock stars perform athletic feats, but no one is going to say what they’re doing is sports. Many announcers, local and national, said Nelson’s teams were fun and entertaining, but they said it almost in derision, as if they weren’t watching the real thing. And his teams were fun to watch, and entertaining. They were exhilarating. But Nelson wasn’t trying to be entertaining. He was trying to play to win.

      Sports is sports.

  67. rgg, UNCLE!

    Now THIS is entertainment.

  68. Bill Simmons’ lastest lockout rant: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7100999/avoiding-lockout-red-sox

    fwiw, I disagree with his take that mid-level players are overpaid, since “fans pay only to see stars.” I’ve been over this before, but I believe many fans pay to see winning teams. And in my opinion, many mid-level players are more integral to their team’s winning record than the putative stars.

  69. Maggette makes sure he doesn’t run too low on his “lockout cash”. LOL


  70. Entertaining read on one of the charity basketball games played last weekend.


  71. The problem I have with Rosen’s rant is this quote from Rosen himself: “As a long time friend of Jackson’s and casual acquaintance of West’s”. That alone casts some doubt on the overall picture that Rosen is trying to paint with this piece.

    Having said that, my only real interest in the life and times of Jerry West is whether or not he can be a meaningful contributor to the Warriors and their future as a team and organization?

  72. MT writes about Curry as well as the whereabouts of a few other Warriors.


  73. Labor update: Talks end after 16 hrs, more meetings Wednesday.

    Here are all the updates with everyone saying pretty much the same thing.


  74. Andria, Steve’s MT link @116 contains a Biedrins update that might interest you :>

  75. FB at #103:
    “fwiw, I disagree with his take that mid-level players are overpaid, since “fans pay only to see stars.” I’ve been over this before, but I believe many fans pay to see winning teams.”

    If owners are motivated to get *stars* to get fans–and they are; a mediocre team might shoot for a *star* not to improve the team but get some kind of draw–they’re going to raise the price of *stars* or be pushed into paying a lot for players who look like *stars* or who they hope might turn into a *star* some day and raise the price of those. And have payrolls they can’t afford and lose money. Hard to believe more intelligent trades couldn’t lead to better teams and better contracts. (The same thing is happening in publishing today.)

  76. Here’s a YouTube of that Curry school interview MT writes about (#116):

  77. And here’s the school piece on Curry:


    “He was a model student-athlete prior to his NBA career,” McKillop added. “He has returned to conclude his commitment amidst the fame and the fortune of his brightly developing NBA career. What an outstanding model of excellence for prospective student-athletes to see!”

  78. And here’s a transcript of that interview (Curry cracks up at 3:15 in):


  79. Debate on ESPN.com’s ranking of the NBA’s top 10 players.


  80. Speaking of debates, here’s one concerning Bryant Gumbel’s controversial remarks about David Stern.


  81. (Wow, I’m tired of this CBA mess. We may have one day left–or months to go.)
    Maybe some owners really are losing money. And maybe there are unmovable divisions among owners that Stern has had to manage as best he can. We’ll never know. But the NBA and Stern have stuck with a proposal that at the very least will make players and the union lose face, along with a lot of money, that they knew they could not accept. If so, their only strategy was to wait until the players broke, which everyone has been saying all along. Nor was there an attempt to have some other kind of proposal to share losses–revenue sharing, and is this finally being discussed?–but instead put it all on the players. Stern choreographed this whole mess. Hard to believe the breakdown could not have been predicted, that alternatives couldn’t have been considered much, much earlier.

  82. @ feltbot #113

    Boy, that was an article that did not need to be written. A load of petty gossip.

    • one of the comments on that Rosen blog fairly accurately cites Rosen’s personal and professional association with Jackson. apparently, he thought West’s anecdotes so uncomplimentary to Jackson that he needed to revive the NY-LA rivalry of the late 60s/early 70s and debunk the ‘myth’ of West as a ‘clutch shooter’ [for those who are too young to witness the hoops of the era, they actually played a fair amount of straight up man to man, and the NY sample is rather skewed w. West because he had Frazier shadowing him], and dredge up anything else assigned to his anti-West animus.

      Rosen in the past has been one of the instigators if not initiators of some of the anti-Nelson hearsay one still encounters, which of course the ‘nellie = antichrist’ adherents spread as the gospel.

  83. OT: Not to make a habit of posting music videos on a basketball blog but I ran across this tonight while prowling the net and it’s so good I thought I’d share.

    The inimitable, incomparable Burt Bacharach with Wynonna Judd and her fabulous rendition of a great, great song.

  84. @127 I’m not going to judge whether or not it should have been written. The piece was obviously the settling of a score, and a lot of the great literature in the world would not have been created without that impetus… not to mention this lowly blog!

    I also enjoy reading Rosen, for several reasons. First of all, he’s a true basketball insider, having been a basketball coach with Phil Jackson in the CBA, as well as a lifelong confidante (and co-author) of Jackson’s. Second, he’s fearless to speak his true opinion of players and coaches, both as professionals and as people.

    Is there anyone else like him in sports journalism? Certainly not that fake Kawakami, who knows next to nothing of the sport, and whose only confidantes, if you can call them that, are agents with agendas.

    Jeff van Gundy has a little Charlie Rosen in him, which contributes to making him the best analyst in the NBA. I’ll never forget him calling Vince Carter a dog on national TV. But with van Gundy you have to listen closely and wait for lightning to strike.

    I even enjoy Rosen’s harsh criticism of Nellie on a certain level, knowing as I do that it comes straight from the mind of Big Chief Triangle (thank you, Jeff van Gundy!), the most overrated coach in the history of any sport.

  85. “Joe Lacob puts his stamp on Warriors in first year”


    I didn’t see anything about roster moves, past or future.

  86. @ 139

    My problem with Rosen’s article doesn’t have anything to do with the parties involved, it’s about his lack of journalistic professionalism. If Rosen limited his article to reporting actions and words, facts and figures, then offered his opinion about the meaning of it all AS HIS OPINION, that would be fine. After all, he’s not a reporter, he’s an opinionator, an entertainer.

    But instead Rosen’s article read as if he knew West’s inner thoughts and feelings. That’s crap. The only authority on West’s thoughts is West. An actual professional journalist would have interviewed West, or his friends, or someone somewhere who might actually have some valid insight about West’s motivations, intentions, and so on.

    Rosen didn’t cite any informed opinion like that, he just blasted away, attributing a lot of pettiness and jealousy to statements and incidents that could easily have been explained in lots of other ways. For example, maybe Jerry West simply didn’t think much of a strict adherence to a triangle offense when the team had some of the world’s best freelancers playing.

    Rosen didn’t even mention the possibility of a professional difference of opinion, he wrote a blatant smear piece. That’s crap.

  87. Whatever. And more doom and gloom to follow. Back to Burt and Wynonna.


  88. @ 130

    Feltie, do you really think Jackson is overrated? He may be the luckiest NBA coach ever, but at least he didn’t screw things up (until his final playoff series, maybe).

  89. white hat, I agree completely with “Feltie”, even to his extension of ALL coaches in ALL sports. Heck, give Andria MJ, Shaq and Kobe and I’m sure she’d win at least a couple of titles while looking a whole lot better on the sidelines in the process. :)

    Sorry, but for a coach with that many rings I can’t imagine being less impressed by someone’s career “accomplishments”.

  90. @132 WH: Yes, and you’ll find a lot of reasons why if you search my previous posts. I believe his failed system caused him to blow two Finals: Lakers/Pistons and Lakers/Celtics. On his championship teams, the talent level was so disproportionate and overwhelming that failure would have been a disgrace.

    And yet, his Lakers needed help from the league on at least three separate occasions that I can remember to make it through (v. the Wallace/Pippen Blazers, the Kings and the Spurs).

  91. @ 135

    Steve, there’s a lot to be said for simply not screwing things up. Making the very best management decisions 100% of the time is impossible, but avoiding disastrous decisions 100% of the time is more important.

    Off the top of my head, I can only think of two times when Jackson’s teams were badly mismanaged – during the Kobe vs. Shaq era, and in the Lakers’ last playoff appearance. And the latter, his final dance before retirement, is the only time the problem was clearly on Jackson alone.

    Those times aside, the only question about Jackson was how positive his overall influence, not whether he was a net plus. He always ran well-drilled teams with players who knew their roles and worked hard on both ends of the floor. He created an outstanding team from MJ, Pippen and a bunch of role players. That ain’t nothin’. Until Jackson arrived, Chicago wasn’t a solid, consistent contender even with MJ on the team.

    If you look at the question just from the disaster avoidance aspect, Jackson did a near-perfect job. He never bagged a season, other teams always had to take his teams seriously. In 20 years, he never once dropped an unrecoverable stinkbomb on management, players, the press or the public. He never just plain nuked a team, unlike some brilliant, innovative, talented coaches who shall remain nameless at this time.

    Phil Jackson the best coach ever? Probably not, despite being the winningest. A tactical genius like Nelson? Not. But he was never a big enough liability to his team to ensure a losing season, and he was VERY good from an organizational aspect. That covers most of what it’s possible for a coach to contribute. That’s a very good coach, don’t you think?

  92. @ 138

    Feltoman, just read your reply. A few more Jackson screwups to add to the list.

    100% agreed that Jackson’s system, and probably Jackson himself as a game-time coach, wasn’t flexible enough to get the win sometimes. In that regard he could have taken lessons from Don Nelson.

    At the same time, I think any coach with a system (like the triangle offense) has to balance a system’s advantages against the disadvantage of any methodology’s inherent lack of flexibility. It’s a trap, in a way. The better, more successful the system, the more completely a team is stuck with it. And Phil Jackson’s system was very successful.

    If an opposing coach and team finds a way to exploit your team patterns, that’s when it becomes more an individual players’ game, to freelance and OMG their way to a win. And Jackson did have the luxury of being able to fall back on gods of the game. Coach’s decision: run the system until it doesn’t work, then hand the ball to Jordan/Kobe/young Shaq. Not such a bad decision. It usually worked.

  93. I dispute that the triangle was EVER successful, which is why Kobe and MJ bagged it and played 1 on 5 for the 4th quarter (if not before) of every single playoff game they were ever in. The true measure of the triangle is how it has served Jackson’s acolytes, who were handed teams that didn’t have MJs or Kobes. We know how that turned out. Who or what was responsible for the “unrecoverable stinkbombs” of the Cleamons Mavs and the Rambis TWolves, I wonder?

    As for this:
    “He never bagged a season, other teams always had to take his teams seriously. In 20 years, he never once dropped an unrecoverable stinkbomb on management, players, the press or the public. He never just plain nuked a team, unlike some brilliant, innovative, talented coaches who shall remain nameless at this time.”

    He never INHERITED an unrecoverable stinkbomb. In fact, he never once coached a team without MJ or Kobe. Not to mention the other four Hall of Famers, Pippen, Rodman, Shaq and Gasol. He never served as his team’s de facto GM. He never had to tear a team down and build it back up from scratch. Let alone 5 times, like some brilliant, innovative, talented coaches who shall remain nameless at this time.

    Phil Jackson, for all his ballyhooed zen-master qualities, was never shy about breaking a few eggs in his day: Jerry Krause, Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc, Jerry West, Gary Payton are just a few examples. But that’s nothing like the eggs you have to break to create playoff teams from cast-offs, draft picks and the D-leagues.

  94. okey-dokey.

  95. CBA negotiations last Wed. (re-enactment):

  96. @ 141

    Whoa. The Triangle “never successful?”

    Jordan and Kobe (and Payton, and Shaq) could create a shot for themselves anytime. They didn’t need an offensive system at all. The triangle was for their teammates. Spoonfeed a stiff like Horace Grant to make him a threat and it’s that much easier for Jordan to do his thing. You could argue that the triangle made MJ and Kobe more successful. In any case, I’d be delighted to hear how the winningest offensive scheme in NBA history was “unsuccessful.” I’m all ears. This should be good.

    Re Rambis and Cleamons: we’ve all heard terrible piano players. Doesn’t mean pianos suck.

    If the Coach Who Shall Remain Nameless was the de facto GM during his last years with the Warriors, that is NOT a plus.

    I guess my stinkbomb comment wasn’t clear. What I was trying to say was that Jackson always got along with everyone he needed to, including his star players. That’s a good quality in a manager. T.C.W.S.R.N. chased off his best player twice that I know of. That’s not good.

    Look, this isn’t about T.C.W.S.R.N., and I don’t want to put him down. Jackson brought organization and discipline and hardnosed play to his teams, he got 90% of the titles he was supposed to get, and in 20 years of pressure he never just lost his cool and created a big stinky mess. Genius? Probably not. Bad coach? Absolutely not. I suspect he’d be a good guy to run most any kind of organization.

  97. Regarding Steve’s linked Reuters article on the silver lining to the lockout (the numbers for the comments are not appearing on my screen):
    In today’s Orwellian sports world, the proles watch games on television, the Party members go to the games. Only Inner Party members get seats that are actually superior to watching at home. It is good to read that they may actually come out ahead in this lockout.

  98. (147)Weißhut, other than webber, whom did Nelson repel from a team ?– he did trade away quite a few in Dal but that isn’t the same thing, and if he traded the team’s best player the player in question wasn’t particularly indispensable. Ewing disliked him and it was Nelson who was fired.[it was a groß exaggeration that Nelson ‘tried to trade’ Ewing — closer to thinking out loud with an NY exec which was supposed to be kept confidential]. Some folk still think he traded Kidd but have their facts and chronology messed up (could be perpetuated by Rosen). No one who has alleged that Nelson was the defacto g.m. in oaktown during his most recent tenure has evidence beyond circumstantial/anecdotal/interpretation usually combined with bias anti-nelson or pro-mullin (kawakami).

  99. “the winningest offensive scheme in NBA history”

    Do we get to include the record of Cleamons’ Mavs and Rambis’ TWolves in that?

    “I suspect he’d be a good guy to run most any kind of organization.”

    Yes, so long as that organization had 5 players, 3 of whom were Hall of Famers.

    Just having a little fun White Hat… In all seriousness, I believe that Jackson’s great strength as a coach, apart from ego management, had to do with something that no one ever mentions with regard to him: the defensive end. But there again, he had some of the best defensive players in history.

    As for the triangle, it will soon be consigned to the ashbin of history. No one will ever run it as a system. Which, it seems to me, will make it very difficult for anyone to argue going forward that it is a successful NBA system.

  100. Again, AW on Allen:
    “there’s suspicion that his motives center on saving as much money as possible in this CBA to eventually ready his franchise for a sale.”

    The recent huge sales prices of franchises have to be a temptation. And if you’re an owner looking to sell, what do you care about your reputation or fan interest in the game, what do you lose by playing hardball and losing this season?

    Any accountants on board? How much more attractive a sale is your franchise if you can cut operating costs? To this add the money you save the coming years until you can sell to the top bidder. From the above, subtract revenues lost this season if the season is cancelled. You’re still in the black? Well in the black?

    Cohan would have loved the owners’ proposals, right?

  101. Portland would be a tougher sell than the two most recent biggies, Oakland and Detroit. The Detroit market area has been shrinking, but as of 2010 it still had 5.2 million potential Pistons customers. The Warriors had 7.4 million in the bay area. The Portland metro area had only 2.2 million, less than Sacramento.

    The owners have been whining for a solid year about how poorly the small market teams are doing. If their financial picture doesn’t publicly, obviously change, there will be little interest from potential buyers. So if Allen does want out (he’s not talking), he probably needs to see the players’ union crushed.

  102. Came across this today…

    • Ha, Steve. You beat me to the punch–and I hesitated. A lot of people are going to scream how much those guys get paid, how ridiculous the claims are. But symbolically what is happening is very bad–the owners aren’t bargaining in good faith, or treating players like they are people who can and should bargain for themselves. And if the players were mostly white, what happens?

      From AAU at grade school age, through middle and high school and, briefly, college, the multitude of players who feed the NBA are treated–often spoiled–for their single talent and with little concern for much else. And if they fall by the wayside along the way and don’t make it, who is looking out for them?

      Sterling would bring players into the locker room while the players were showering and exclaim, “Look at those beautiful black bodies.” Corey Maggette brought this to our attention.


  103. Interesting story here:


    Major league club owners apparently want to stand united against labor.

    • white hat, you gotta watch more baseball. :)

      • Steve, I don’t generally enjoy watching guys standing around in a field idly playing with their pants, so zero baseball is exactly the right amount for me. But I am glad to see the league relented on letting Dirk pitch. It’s good for the fans.

  104. Zirin:
    Plantation Politics and the N.B.A. Lockout

  105. Scoop Jackson calls for players sitting out whole NBA season if necessary.

  106. white hat, did you say “zero baseball”? No, no, no. Don’t you realize what you’re missing? Baseball means the end of winter, which means the flowers are starting to bloom, which means the start of spring training, which leads directly to catching SPRING FEVER! white hat, don’t you see what you’re missing? SPRING FEVER!

    • Steve, I’ve been such a fool! I’ll get right on it! I’ll start watching bored guys play with their pants! No, wait!

  107. “There are many more important issues in life than worrying about who makes what in an entertainment venue such as basketball.”

    What? Basketball? Entertainment venue? Please! LOL

    Fans speak out on the lockout.


  108. Shameless self-promotion

    Here is my contribution to the Occupy Wall Street movement, an attempt to come to terms with the market crash a few years back:


    Writing this, obviously, has made me skeptical of the owners, as you’ve seen above, and just about everything else.

    • Great story. Based on MT’s information, Ralph “The Rocket” Walker is now my favorite Joe Lacob hire.

  109. Chris Mannix tweeting from the lobby of the lockout talks which are still ongoing as of 11 pm our time.


  110. Talks finally conclude for the night after 15+ hrs. The latest from Sheridan and Wojnarowski.


  111. Halloween is Monday and if you’re looking for something pretty scary how about my predicted end for the lockout, made in July.

    2. Steve | July 1, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Reply
    “I’m predicting the lockout ends around Halloween, give or take a few weeks.”

    An agreement is coming soon, very soon. Go Warriors!!

    Oh yeah, and one more thing……….BOO!

  112. Time to hit the “links” for a lockout Thursday.


    • Funny, an economist friend of mine just told me about this guy. He apparently started a beverage company on a whim and sold it to coca- cola for a fortune. He asked Coke for warrants instead of cash because he knew Coke would undervalue them, and they did.

      He does seem to confirm my suspicion that even “losing” franchises make money ….

      • Assuming the operating losses aren’t too severe and the value of an individual franchise keeps appreciating at somewhere near the average historical rate for the league, an NBA owner is going to make money on his investment over the long term. Two big “ifs.”

        But team owners don’t need to sell out to benefit from an increase in valuation, they can leverage their assets immediately. They can use any improvement in the perceived value of their team to access more cash now, to diversify into other investments. The greater the perceived value of their franchise, the more $$$ they can acquire from banks or new stockholders, to use for other things. That’s the real issue driving owners to hammer players right now.

        Regardless of what the long term league-wide historical averages suggest, any business that routinely shows an annual operating loss has to be seen as inherently more risky than one showing an operating profit, because Stuff Happens, especially in the long term. Take New Orleans for example. Who could have predicted that 30% of the NO market would disappear overnight? Higher risk=lower perceived current value, and less ready access to fresh cash. To a money manager, the NO franchise is almost worthless now. The league (i.e., the NBA owners association) bought it solely to protect the value of their other franchises.

        The bottom line is that, to NBA team owners, player cost savings are worth far more than their face value. By the standards of someone who could assemble the cash to own an NBA franchise in the first place, anyone who couldn’t see a 10x appreciation on an investment over 10 years is a loser. Anyone who wouldn’t move heaven and hell to leverage their assets to diversify their investments is a loser. Anyone who wouldn’t try to take the players for every possible dime at this point in time is a loser. The owners aren’t just lucky-rich-guy fans anymore, they’re money management pros.

        Resolution of the CBA negotiations will happen when the lost operating revenue PLUS the reduced valuation of the league as a whole (from loss of fans) threatens to overcome the salary savings and the leveraged revenue associated with it. The tipping point will be when this season has to be seen by fans as “not a real season.” And the clock on THAT will begin when Stern can no longer say “we’ll make it up on the back end.” As soon as that statement becomes unrealistic, the NBA starts losing fan interest – the real basis of any team value.

        What can fans do to speed things along? Ignore ’em. Maybe we all take up baseball, like Steve.

        • Thanks for that link, Steve, and for your reply White Hat. It’s a joy to read from guys who know what they’re talking about. Baseball has suggested another investment opportunity which may affect the game:

          “Recognizing that major league teams are offering multimillion-dollar contracts to some teenage prospects, the investors are either financing upstart Dominican trainers, known as buscones, or building their own academies. In exchange, the investors are guaranteed significant returns — sometimes as much as 50 percent of their players’ bonuses — when they sign with major league teams.”


          A futures market in kids. And I’ve read horror stories about those buscones and academies. Imagine something similar catching on in basketball.

  113. What I’d like to see, assuming an agreement is forthcoming:

    1. Give teams plenty of time to train, practice, and make trades. A lot of teams have made major coaching, player changes and will need to make substantial trades soon (e.g. the Warriors). Let them get used to each other and be prepared to start the season. Even throw in a few preseason games?

    2. Play a 58 game schedule: each team plays the other teams twice, home and away.

    3. No back to backs!

    4. For the playoffs, ignore divisions and seed 16 teams according to their season performance.

    I know it could never happen, largely because of money, next scheduling issues, but it would be a damned exciting season and the NBA might need something like this to restore faith.

    • rgg, I’m with you on your whole wish list, but I’m afraid that none of it is going to happen.

      1. The start of this season is going to be a 2-week fire drill, tops. Everyone concerned says they need to start playing ASAP.
      2. If teams “lose money” at 82 games, they’re not going to cut back to 58. Too bad, really, because the ball would be better. I think we’ve all seen too many mid-season games where everyone on the court is just going through the motions.
      3. B2Bs are death to competitive basketball, especially for teams with a shallow bench, like the Warriors. It would be great to see the league do away with them entirely. I wonder if they would even consider it, though, because of its impact on team travel expenses.
      4. Your formula for the playoffs would probably make for more competitive playoff ball, leading to more games and more revenue. Let’s mention it to our pal Dave Stern.

      • I was working under the assumption we’re going to lose some games anyway, but pure fantasy, of course. Still, it would be an opportunity to showcase a league that was highly competitive last year a dozen teams down. What is the likely scenario if they decide in the next few weeks–rush through preseason and just start playing wherever they are on the schedule this year, regardless of the difficulty of the schedule? Sloppy early games for a month or so? I wasn’t watching last time there was a stoppage.

  114. Miami’s highfalutin owner says “Don’t blame me”. Sure, buddy, whatever you say. LOL No wonder this thing is such a mess.


  115. My belief all along has been that the owners are not looking to cut a deal, they are looking to break the union. They have to be seen to be negotiating in good faith, to avoid a NLRB intervention that would put it in the hands of the courts.

    The owners have a huge incentive to blow up this season. If the NHL is a guide, it will destroy the union. And the deal struck next year will be substantially worse than the deal currently being offered by the owners.

    There are literally billions of dollars at stake here. Even more than can currently be modeled if, as I suspect, the economy starts booming shortly after the deal is struck. We also know that excitement for the game is building in Europe, China and Russia. What happens to league revenues if that excitement goes geometric?

    If the owners can get the right deal, they will easily recoup the losses of a missed season. I believe they will profit enormously in the back end, and in growth of franchise value. The players, on the other hand, can recoup nothing. They’re in a lose/lose situation. End of story.

    • The only thing players have to gain is to save face rather than come out of the CBA appearing to be totally defeated. Financially, it’s nothing, but symbolically it means a lot. If the owners do not allow this, my resentment of the NBA will grow deeper and last a very long time. Which of course doesn’t mean squat in the world of power and money.

      But maybe in the next years the players will get their act together and learn to represent themselves better in the public eye? I haven’t seen much and know less, but it looks like Fisher has done a good job.

  116. Boy, Whitlock doesn’t like Fisher. But I think he gives Fisher too much credit. I seriously doubt if it matters what Fisher does. He can pose and talk all he wants, but he’s not leading the negotiations for the NBPA. Billy Hunter would have to be incompetent even to permit Fisher to open his mouth during negotiations. Hunter’s not incompetent, he’s very sharp and has roughly 50 years (!) experience as a top attorney.

    I think the real dealers in the CBA negotiations tolerate Fisher because of his ceremonial position as union president. If he ends up being “off message,” it’s most likely because no one considers it necessary to educate him about what’s being said in lawyerspeak during the negotiations.

    I love a well-documented smear job as well as the next guy, but Whitlock is just writing innuendo. Fisher is out of the loop. No conspiracy theory required.

  117. By the way, does anyone besides me see the parallels between Michael Curry (in the Fisher piece above), and the Warriors’ assistant GM Bob Myers, formerly Dorell Wright’s agent?

  118. Steph at Davidson:

    “There was the humble NBA player, son of Dell and Sonya, older brother to Seth, munching on a morning sandwich, stopping to give hugs and high fives to the longtime workers who clean the school’s laundry. Like time and marriage and millions hadn’t separated the boy from the college just yet. In most ways, they never did.”


  119. white hat, I’m sure Mr. Meyer had a nice time “playing with his pants” while watching the World Series. LOL Love these sports betting stories.

  120. @ rgg, #184

    Lessee, 3rd head coach in 3 years, and a novice at that. Playing either short-handed or with up to 2/3 new players who will all have to be paid relatively low salaries. New management throughout the organization, new assistant coaches, even new trainers – none of whom has even been permitted to speak to players to date. Under-fit players (yeah, I know they’re keeping warm in pickup games all over the country, but still, c’mon). Relatively inexperienced owner acting as head GM leading a largish committee of assistant GMs, scouts, other ownership partners and even a guru, all of whom must have their say on trades and hiring decisions.

    And the league is talking about a 2-week training camp/free agent trading period. If the dubs do manage to bring in new bodies, they’ll be arriving over many weeks – most of them would miss training camp. Jackson doesn’t know who his starting 5 will be, or who the majority of his players will be, so how could have plays ready to go? If the new CBA deal were signed this minute, it would be late January before the dubs even began to play with any hint of coordination. Damn. Another lost season for the dubs.

    I hope I’m wrong about all of this, of course. DamnDamnDamn.

  121. “Dwyane Wade will lose $2.64 million this month, while his teammates LeBron James and Chris Bosh will both lose out on $2.72 million. Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Elton Brand all will lose between $2.75 million and $3 million, and there are still ten players that will lose even more than that.”

    Yep, another day another dollar. LOL I already knew these guys were making obscene amounts of money but then you see it broken down in print and suddenly “obscene” becomes a gross understatement.


    • They’re making obscene amounts of money because the game takes in obscene amounts of money – because only inner-party members can afford good seats to games.

  122. “It’s a full-court press”

    http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/basketball/other_nba/view.bg?articleid=1377178&srvc=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A +bostonherald%2Fsports%2Fbasketball%2Fother_nba+%28NBA+Coverage+-+Celtics+%26+NBA+-+BostonHerald.com%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

  123. “In New Book, Shaq Explains How Kobe’s Sexual Assault Charges Destroyed The Lakers”


  124. (195)steve, hope you had a chance to read the wagesofwin.net analysis of nba player earnings, adjusted for inflation, over the past 20 years. Despite the salaries of the elite stars, and the much publicized ‘$5m. average annual nba salary’, more than half the players are getting 2m./yr or less ; half of all the players in the twenty years never exceeded 5m. in total earnings, and about a third never reached 1m. in career earnings. it appears (168) you don’t think the owners ‘deserve’ their .50 of ‘b.r.i’ (actually, there’s hundreds of millions in exemptions/deductions they pull before the split is even calculated ). though they’d like the public to accept their statements at face value, the owners haven’t really offered a .50 split — they made a significant restriction on what used to be called ‘mid level exceptions’ a condition of the offer, and want a .53 slice for a continuation of something closer to the previous system (the players had conceded a smaller amount and fewer years for those type of contracts).

    in effect, the strings attached to the .50 offer is an agit-prop tactic intended to erode solidarity within the union. for bread and butter nba vets who don’t get the star contracts, the mid-level deals raised the market rate for their services and gave them some options on where they could choose employment. the teams are challenging the players, are those second tier vets worth giving up a couple of hundred million a year in the b.r.i. split?

    • moto,

      I don’t quite follow paragraph 2. Explain? I am curious how the CBA will affect the rank and file players, if we can call them that, whose numbers make a sizable majority?

  125. moto, I honestly don’t care whether the owners or the players are the perceived “winners” whenever these CBA negotiations are finally concluded. I, like most NBA fans, just want to see NBA games resume along with a new season. Unfortunately, with nothing in the NBA news department these days save the tedious stories of differing monetary issues these blogs go to sleep without mention or debate of the business side of sports. Big time bummer, at least for me.

    I’ve always been one to say “more power to you” as it relates to the topic of salaries in sports. If one of my favorite players leaves to make more money somewhere else, even considering that that player is already making millions where he is, I don’t begrudge one bit, especially considering I’d do likewise given the same opportunity. And obviously, as the decades have come and gone, the money generated by the entertainment industry (of which I include sports) has made and continues to make more and more instant millionaires out of an amazing number of those with any semblance of professional athletic skill or big stage presence.

    Using the word “obscene” to describe the levels of some of these salaries was only meant to emphasize the enormity, not to seem grudgeful in any way. I’ll gladly pay the extra dollars to watch quality entertainment, be it stage, screen or playing field (court). And in the end it’s that willingness that leads to their riches. It is what it is. (P.S. The #168 you referenced was simply putting a headline to the subject of the link I posted.)

  126. Text of Fisher’s letter to fellow NBA players.


  127. Interesting piece on Brian Shaw, now with Indiana. Still think Shaw would have been a great choice for the Warriors’ HC job. Also, my opinion that he would have implemented his own coaching style (as opposed to Jackson’s Triangle) seems indeed evident after reading this.


  128. steve, thanks for all the links, and for clarifying that you do not endorse any of the content getting passed along. the denunciation of Hunter by Wojnarowski (204) should be considered in context of how other nba writers view Wojnarowski as a stealth mouthpiece for the league. with deliberate irony he describes Hunter’s divide-and-conquer tactics [true, Hunter pointed out divisions within the owners, confirmed by the recent 500k fine imposed by Stern on the Mia owner], when it’s the league that strongly relies on the tactic — was fox sports/news being ‘fair and balanced’ when it tried to exacerbate a rift between Fisher and Hunter ?

    in one of Whitlock’s columns that attempt to cast doubt on Fisher’s motives, he refers to Bryant (who has the same agent as Fisher) in support of accepting the .50 split of the ‘b.r.i.’. Bryant has a guaranteed three years @ 83m.+ that reactivates when the league resumes. We know Fisher is very capable of working the system to benefit himself and his family — he got Mullin to bite on his story that he wanted a chance to lead his own team, and finessed a re-trade back to LA from UT after getting the resulting pay raise. Fisher might in fact favor a resolution that accepts the .50 split , but attributing it to a singular, venal motive is suspect in itself. Many former union leaders have ended up working for the league — it is a monopoly after all. Ewing was the former union prez, and has aspirations to become a head coach, though he’s shown limited qualifications as an assistant.

    the best example of the evolution and successful adaptation to $$ and power in a former player advocate is none other than his hypeness, Jordan. in the his first labour impasse as a player, he was among a group that included other highly compensated D.Falk clients who urged de-certifying the union. the next time the c.b.a. was up for renewal, he’d just retired and was offered a start in the executive offices by old school owner of Was. , Polin. when Polin remarked how difficult it was to make competitive salary offers for the best talent, Jordan mocked him and suggested that owners who were checquebook-shy should consider getting out of the bidness and sell their teams. Jordan’s laziness as an exec eventually got him fired by Polin. Presently an owner, Jordan is one of the hardest hard liners and strongly favors big boosts in revenue sharing.

  129. Felt, we have now officially hit rock-bottom on this blog. Instead of revving the engines to a new season http://www.ibabuzz.com/warriors/2011/07/19/golden-state-warriors-2011-12-schedule/ and breaking down “tonight’s” Warriors-Lakers opener we’re instead reading about crooked cricket. Oy vey.

    BTW, even though Butt and Asif have been brought to justice I hear they’re still looking to bring in Sam Cheeks and Mark Toosh for further questioning as possible accomplices. Yep, rock bottom.

  130. The return of J-Rich? Was never a big fan but last year Jason, as a 6th man off the bench, would have looked like Havlicek in comparison to the Warriors actual options.


    • Completely agree that J Rich would have been helpful last year, but if Klay Thompson is as good as The Logo reportedly thinks he is, he could make an expensive J Rich unnecessary. Even if they dump Biedrins, if the Dubs fully staff up this year they are going to be bumping against the salary cap (whatever it is, presumably lower than last year) .

      Higher priority might be a competent, experienced backup point guard (that’s not JR) and a real center or two with some NBA experience.

  131. Forbes Sports Money

  132. OK, it’s official. I’m tired of the CBA debates and am bored. There’s nothing to watch tonight, no football, no college games, and now I can’t watch cricket. So I’m offering a sports clip in their place. In a celebrity boxing match Jose Canseco takes on Vai Sikahema. (In another celebrity night, Jose fought one bout and Rodney King was on the undercard against a guy with mental problems. More recently, however, King took on a cop and won. Is this a great country or what?)

    The decline of boxing I greatly regret. If there are any lessons to be learned here that might be applied to other sports, let’s hope we learn them.

    But before you click the video, lay odds and place a bet.

  133. (214) Amick’s column yesterday provided the text from Hunter’s letter to the membership, which spelled out the rationale behind rejecting the conditions attached to the .50 split of the ‘b.r.i.’ For one thing, the amount of hoops revenue the teams get directly, before the ‘b.r.i.’ gets calculated, last season amounted to 540m.+, and it’s called “expense credits”. that means the .52 where Hunter has drawn a line is actually <.50 of the revenue.

    the league would not 'concede' a .50 split unless the teams over the cap were excluded from signing the mid-level exception category of free agents. Hunter emphasized that the union wanted to hold firm for a 'true market for free agency' and 'keep all teams in the market for player services'. most fans probably want the entertainment to resume and the players to accept what's perceived as the inevitable decrease in their lucrative compensation. the major pro leagues however are exempted from anti-monopoly regulations and conduct player drafts — Rubio could continue playing in Esp as long as he wished but Min would still have exclusive rights if he wanted to try the n.b.a. Whether the league has a hard cap or no cap (n.f.l. vs. m.l.b.) the elite stars see seven or eight figure deals. the union hopes to keep the richest teams and the spendthrift owners in the market for the bread and butter vets who attain free agency.

  134. @ steve 215

    Stackhouse didn’t say Fisher did something bad, he just stated the obvious regarding Fisher’s qualifications to negotiate for the league. It would be unprofessional of Billy Hunter to permit his client (the player’s representative Fisher in this case) to say a word at the negotiating table. Hunter is a very capable, very experienced, no-shit heavyweight attorney. Ergo, Fisher isn’t doing the negotiating.

    What is said outside of the negotiating room can affect the negotiations only to the extent that it applies pressure to settle. If what outsiders speculate about Fisher’s intent, his personal ambitions, etc., reduces the morale and the resolve of the players, it’s good for the NBA. Dissension won’t move a pro like Hunter much, but possibly some.

    So if the NBA weren’t too high-minded to run some dirty tricks, they could use the media to sow distrust within the union. What the heck, it wouldn’t actually be illegal. This is not to say that the NBA fersure sourced all this nasty talk about Fisher, but they are playing for billions here. The temptation must be as high as the stakes. They’ve got motive (I can’t even type that many dollar signs), and as longtime media masters they have opportunity.

    That’s my bet on the “Fisher-as-sleaze” talk.

  135. If the lockout ever ends the Warriors will have much work to do in filling out their roster. Matt “I usually don’t have much of a clue” Steinmetz throws some names around.


  136. Watch NBA games? Leave it to Jack Nicholson. It’s all in the imagination.


    • More “make a deal now” pressure on Hunter, citing Wojnaroski as the source. Hmm. Either Woj has incredible connections among the players (none of whom he’s mentioned by name), or he’s simply helping the NBA put heat on Hunter. Either would get him site hits for “controversial” columns.

      I’ll go with the option that would be easier for Woj to accomplish. No doubt the union membership is frustrated and wondering, but since Woj doesn’t attribute anyone his “facts” are suspect. And even my grandma could write a “players are frustrated” article out of thin air.

      Bottom line, the players have to either trust Hunter or not. If “someone” wanted to raise distrust and unrest within the union to achieve a faster, lower settlement, this would be an excellent way to do it.

      I want a season as much as the next fan, but I hate it when dirty tricks win out. Let’s hope Hunter and Fisher warned the players in advance to expect a dirty media campaign.

  137. “NBA ownership group’s labor committee will reopen talks with the players’ side Saturday afternoon, sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard, a meeting one general manager, who has spoken with a few owners, described as “headed straight for disaster.””

    All sounds so hunky-dory, don’t you think? LOL

    Here’s more “hunky-doryness”, brought to you by those hunky-dory folks from the hunky-dory NBA.


  138. Change of subject: Went to see Margin Call last night. Fantastic movie, a darkly comic fictional take on the mortgage crisis. I think everyone here would love it.

    • Felt, I ordered it via my cable pay-per-view last weekend. Very good. Especially enjoyed Spacey and Irons.

  139. If anyone wants to watch tonight’s We Believe game from San Jose here’s the link to the live stream. Game time in about 20 minutes.


  140. It’s impossible, of course, for us to know what is going on, how much money has been/will be actually lost, what is fair, etc. I rather liked the player’s proposal, 51% with 1% to pensions, though I don’t know how serious that 1% is. At least they made a nod to the well being of the players. Also the players have given up a great deal from the past CBA.

    I’m guessing the story of this year’s CBA is the emergence of the bottom half of the owners, of whom I think it’s safe to say at least a third of them have simply made bad decisions and performed poorly. This is not competition, it is not business, it is not sports, and it sure isn’t entertaining. Throw out Sacramento and San Diego and the deal gets done a month ago?

    • I guess they read this blog. I recommended the deferred income thing (pensions) back in post #16.

  141. I know it’s the minority position among hoops fans, but I’d rather go without NBA basketball than have the players take a bad deal. I’ve seen number crunching player-critics point out that the time has already passed, or is soon approaching, at which the players will lose more money getting what they’re asking for than if they had taken what the owners were offering back when no games would have been lost. My question is this: What if the players were NEVER to give in to what they believe to be a bad deal? What if current players were to take the financial hit for the benefit of future generations? I’m certainly not saying this is likely to happen because those who point that millionaire players are not known for this kind of sacrifice have a strong point indeed. But what if it DID happen? Would the owners agree to no basketball for not only one year, but FIVE YEARS? TEN YEARS? FOR EVER? I, for one, would like to see the answer to that.

    • Ian Thomsen, SI.com, brings up a nice point:

      “Think about it: If the best players are suddenly prohibited from fishing for extra salary from the bigger markets, and they realize their NBA paycheck is limited no matter where they choose to play, then guess where they’re going to go? They’re going to seek employment with large-market franchises like the Knicks, the Lakers, the Bulls or the Mavericks, because those markets will offer superior earning opportunities off the court.”

      Players are going to move to big markets and competitive teams–we saw this last season. And if they want to exact revenge because they get stuck with a bad CBA, they hold all the power. Small market owners are shooting themselves in the foot. They will probably move regardless of CBA, but it behooves the owners to do everything they can to maintain a cooperative understanding.

  142. @geraldmcgrew #239

    “I’d rather go without NBA basketball than have the players take a bad deal.”

    Your last two words there (“bad deal”) is exactly my problem, and THE idiocy, of this entire situation. With salaries already in the troposphere and headed into at least the stratosphere over the course of the next CBA, and the game itself never more popular (“You own an NBA team? Wow, you poor man/investor group, you.” LOL), regardless of the final CBA details, any idea of “losers” or “bad deals” is a concept I have difficulty putting my arms around.

    Would I prefer to see both parties suffer the consequences from this obvious egomaniacal game of Monopoly where everyone passes GO and everyone collects millions of dollars? You bet your dang “Get out of jail free” card I would. Unfortunately, if the end result of any ultimate “defeat” is counting your millions in days and/or weeks instead of months and/or years, any sadistic pleasures derived from watching the end-game suffering is reduced to the point of insignificance.

    Seriously, my sympathies go out to the peripheral employees (ushers, ticket takers, etc) who depend on the games being played to pay their bills. Otherwise? And to all the rest?? May the next passing asteroid land on your mansion and permanently screw up your cable/satellite TV reception……among other things.

  143. “If you know for sure [the owners] are not moving, then you take the best deal possible,” Martin wrote in a text message to SI.com. “We are risking losing 20 to 25 percent of missed games that we’ll never get back, all over 2 percent [of basketball-related income] over an eight- to 10-year period [of the eventual collective bargaining agreement]. And let’s be honest: 60 to 70 percent of players won’t even be in the league when the next CBA comes around.”

    Could the voice of sanity prevail in the end? I’m not holding my breath on that one.


  144. Steve, I get where your coming from, but with the amount of money the game brings in, I believe the players have a right to guard against their exploitation, just as other employees do. Do I feel great sympathy for the players? No, because most employees are way ahead of them in line for my sympathy. But, in fact, when highly paid employees lose labor battles with ownership, it doesn’t help low-paid employess to win theirs. Quite the opposite.

    Now, if you want to wage battle (verbal or otherwise) against the fact that working class fans have been priced out of much of the sports experience, thereby bringing in the huge amounts that make such high player salaries possible, I’m with you. And to those who’d like highly paid players and owners to pay the same tax rates they would have before the late ’70s and ’80s tax cuts, thereby reinvesting a signifacant share of what they take from the public, I’ve been with you for a long time.

  145. “In recent days, multiple people with direct knowledge of negotiations have identified the nine teams pushing the hardest for a draconian rollback of salaries and rules governing player contracts and team payrolls. According to those people, the teams holding the hardest line in negotiations have been Atlanta, Charlotte, Indiana, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Portland and Washington. These nine owners or ownership groups have been trying, with increasing success in recent weeks, to recruit more moderate owners to their cause. If the players reject the deal on the table, the NBA will be turned over to the Hard-Line Nine, and it won’t be pretty. “Nuclear winter,” as Kobe Bryant referred to it in an interview with Yahoo Sports, just about sums it up.”


    • From that same article:

      “But if the owners don’t get their way, who will hold them accountable for detonating a $4 billion industry and tainting the legacy of a sport in which they are mere guests — many of them freeloading ones at that?”

      Thanks, Steve. This is a great read. Meet the owners. . . .

    • Again, this is a great read. Much is at stake with the CBA that is not being discussed. It’s not just a matter of respecting players and reaching a fair deal (if that ever crossed anyone’s minds), it’s also a matter of owners not being held accountable for the losses to the public who funded their arenas (read the piece). And what further has not been aired is whether they are acting in the best interests of the game itself. With 75% indifferent to lost games now, losses could be much greater than imagined.

  146. Parting Shots (John Saunders from The Sports Reporters)

  147. NBA TV has been airing a Run TMC special recently.

  148. Players have until Tuesday to accept the owner’s revised proposal (which would lead to a 72 game season starting 12/15), otherwise all heck breaks loose and a lost season becomes all but a certainty. Here’s one vote for a 72 game season where everyone will still make PLENTY of green, both now and for the life of the new CBA.


  149. The 2011 season is over before it ever started.

    The lockout is finally over.

    Which is it?


  150. NBPA vice president Etan Thomas on the NBA’s revised ultimatum, “Occupy the NBA,” and more re: lockout:


  151. “I expect there to be a lot of (expletive) off guys in the room (this) morning. But when it’s all over, if we send this to the players for a vote, I think we’re playing games in a month.”


  152. Introducing Jeffrey Kessler and David Boies…..and away we go. Ladies and Gents, your 2011-12 NBA season.


  153. Video: David Stern interview with ESPN following union’s rejection of owner’s latest proposal.


  154. I love that Ratto piece, Steve. And I hope the owners get their asses handed to them in federal court. I’m no labor lawyer (nor any kind of lawyer anymore actually), and have zero knowledge of the pertinent statutes, but I don’t really understand how “I’m going to withold your paycheck until you agree to slash your paycheck” can be a part of fair bargaining. Particularly when employed by a monopoly.

    I see this tactic of taking it to the courts, and the very real threat of treble damages against the owners, as the players’ only real chance of getting a fair deal.

  155. Another well-written defense of the players by Ethan Strauss of WarriorsWorld.Net:


    • “This CBA proposal seems devoted to protecting the dumbest owner rather than rewarding the smartest one…”

      That feels true, but it’s probably more about ensuring franchise values league-wide, sort of along the lines of making sure all your neighbors keep their old fridges off the front porch. They’re not “protecting” dumb owners, they’re trying to put them on a leash.

      Unfortunately, that “leash” severely reduces players’ ability to capitalize on their athletic success by further restricting their right to negotiate for the full fair market value for their services. Feltomaniacal my friend, I’m not an attorney and never have been, but I do know that colluding to depress salaries is illegal in every business in America. Without the legal coverage provided by a CBA negotiated with a union, the owners will lose.

      In fact, I’d be surprised if the union doesn’t rescind many of its more recent offerings, and bump their demands back up. The show’s not over and there are lots more tricks to play, but it looks like Stern and co. might have misjudged this one badly.

      I wonder how much the union members were influenced by the 99% narrative.

  156. I put this one entirely on the owners. They only had to give up a little bit and find a way for the players to save face and there would have been a deal in place this week.

    Minority rule in a competitive sport makes no sense at all, yet that’s what we have.

  157. Keith Smart to Sacramento: http://www.csnbayarea.com/basketball-sacramento-kings/news/Kings-hire-Smart-as-assistant?blockID=594538&feedID=2539&awid=7039044072732644663-766

    I’m just wondering, after failing to click with Stephen Curry, how is Smart going to like working with Tyreke Evans?

    • taking a job at Sac indicates a couple of things — Smart will work for cheap [westphal had a budget for three ass’t’s that some teams exceed for one], and he probably thinks he’ll get considered for the top position if the cards fall, because he’d work for cheap. as an ass’t, it won’t fall on him to construct an offense suited to the specific strengths of his starters, which of course he was unable to do in oaktown. ‘t’was my contention that Nelson put him on defense to minimize his influence on the other end. in contrast, as soon as Silas got his son, the other principal Nelson ass’t, to work, he was given the task to re-build a quick tempo offense, and they immediately put in practice drills straight from Nelson’s arsenal.

  158. It’s a shame the players can’t lock out the owners instead of vice versa.

    The NBA is not a business but an exclusive club, though admittedly one with a hefty buy-in. The only requirement to be an owner is to have plenty of money, or in some cases in the past, was to have enough money or a good enough package to make a purchase in markets the NBA wanted but not many other buyers did (e.g. Sacramento and Charlotte), though maybe those buyers did not have enough to handle the risks and possible losses needed to run a franchise over the long term. No other special skills or experience or even special interest required. And there’s no way to lose membership in the club, incompetence, abusive behavior, poor management, poor hiring, etc., other than to go broke and have to sell, though owners who hold on to a club long enough can make a hefty return on their investment, as we saw in one well known local case. That ownership of a small market team is risky and may not be viable financially and thus should be let go, especially given the NBA’s rapid expansion, has not been a consideration either for the individual owners or the NBA as a whole. And yet those are the guys most influential in setting the terms for the current CBA.

    The odds of the bottom third of the league of making it to the finals historically has been next to nil, and I’m skeptical the odds will increase that much with whatever CBA agreement is made. Small owners will still have to compete with large market teams for players, especially the best, where the top players will want to play, and not just players but also good coaches and GMs, which apparently are in short supply. The odds of a bottom third team making a good run, say to the second round of the playoffs, and remaining competitive for more than a handful of years can’t be good either. If owners can’t live with those odds and find some other reason–local entertainment–to justify their purchase, why are they in the NBA?

    Yet so much is given to the owners gratis. Many arenas are partly to wholly funded by the local governments, even though studies show the public does not get their investment returned. They get free exposure from the sports pages and massive free advertising for their players and the NBA as a whole, much of it underwritten by the shoe companies. Employee training is also free–AAU, high schools, and colleges–some of the most talented athletes in the world, though the owner response to this training is to pull players quickly out of college or not give them another place to develop (D-league), and aside from the obvious exceptions, I wonder how many of the early drafts really reach their potential. As for all the money they save, that they spend it unwisely on so many contracts has been widely discussed. And once they get their players, they run them to death in a relentless schedule.

  159. Bill Simmons (The B.S.Report) talks with Marc Stein and Ric Bucher about the current NBA labor mess. (Part 1)


  160. You’re in a nightclub and it’s 2:30 in the morning. Will these guys ever learn?


  161. Meet the owners, Paul Allen (part 3):


    And click on the wikipedia link and look at this sucker.

    OKC and Memphis owners may be shooting themselves in the foot. What each team has done is impressive, and both teams have maybe a four year window to make a serious run in the NBA. They stand now to lose on of those years.

  162. NBA Players: Welcome to the 99 Percent


    • I just sat down to post this myself, GM, thanks. This piece really resonated with me.

    • “Maybe they’re just tired of being treated as less than men by the people who write their checks.”

      I wonder how much of the player response is a reaction to Stern’s paternalistic behavior. I keep thinking about the rule to make bench players wear suits, Rondo being ordered to stop reversing his headband, which he subsequently removed. Does this happen in any other pro sport?

      • Stern is very image conscious about the league. He says the main reason for that is his belief that “we don’t live in a post-racial world.” Unfortunately, he is probably right about that. I imagine we can all think of supporting evidence.

        With that being his concern, Stern sees “street style” as counterproductive, because it can distract some “non-post-racial” people from the game itself. The mandatory dress suit is just an alternate uniform so he doesn’t have to make a case-by-case call on every player’s outfit.

        None of which explains Stern’s threatening, paternalistic tone throughout the CBA negotiations. I think he’s been doing that because he knew all along that he didn’t have a palatable offer he could make. If the tactic had worked, fine, whatever, he’d start mending fences right after the deal was signed. But that sort of thing always has the potential to crystallize antagonism and opposition, and I think maybe it did in this case. I don’t know that Stern had a better tactical option, but that one sure didn’t work.

        • Nicely put, and of course you’re right, WH. Still, it’s all in how it’s done. Hard to believe Stern couldn’t have used persuasion instead of coercion to get those changes, or at least tried that first.

          What got me started was seeing an interview somewhere with Rondo on the CBA, I think, and he looked like he was sitting on something. I kept thinking about that headband.

  163. Adam Lauridsen may prove to be a go-to source for analysis of the litigation:


    • Adam made a good point, that pursuing legal options at this point was a tactic and not a solution. They’re still going to have to work out a deal, and that’s not going to happen in court. Certainly not in our lifetime, anyway.

  164. Here’s where I question Billy Hunter:


    Like the idea, though. Maybe Larry Ellison can start a new league. Ha.

  165. From my perspective the NBA players have received a lot of bad advice and have been poorly “led” by Billy Hunter. The mere fact that the last owners’ proposal was not presented to all 400+ union members for a vote spoke volumes and cast a huge shadow of doubt over union leadership and their actual end-game agenda(s). Has all this been about what’s best for the entire membership, now and going forward, or instead about “winning” an ego-driven game of high stakes poker?

    If former executive director of the NBA players union, Charles Grantham, was still on the job we’d be watching the 2011-12 season as we speak.


  166. From my perspective, the “vote” issue is a complete red-herring being forwarded by the owners and their stooges in company-owned media. That’s you, Bob Fitzgerald.

    Here’s why it’s a red herring:

    1) Has anyone seriously asked whether the player reps canvassed their players? No. Why? Because they did.

    How do I know this? Why, twitter, where I continually got updates from sportswriters who had asked player reps what their teammates were thinking.

    But I know this even without confirmation, because that is simply how this system works. Player reps canvas their players on all important issues. What player rep would dare misrepresent or go against the consensus of those he represents?

    The system worked exactly as it is supposed to. The players were given the opinion of their leaders and reps, and then their own opinion was asked and tallied. When the opinion of the players was near unanimous against the new CBA, no vote was taken. It would have been a waste of time.

    2) One other way I know this is true: If it weren’t, there would be an out and out revolt, in the media, of the players right now. There is not. Nothing like it. The only people shouting are company-owned stooges on company-owned platforms.

    That’s you, Bob Fitzgerald.

    • Nor did the big name players complain that much when Hunter made the huge concessions. Somewhat in the defense of Hunter, how could he or anyone have predicted the hard stand and influence of the minority owners? Did anyone see this coming? Again, the players gave up 7% BRI. Did anyone think months ago they would go that far, or would have to?

      This isn’t a bad read:

      (anybody know how to make a tiny URL?)

      which talks about how NO, NJ, and other teams will be hurt by a lost season.

      The only way to defend owners is to accept one or some combination of the following arguments:

      1. Owners know best and best represent the players’, fans’, and league’s interests.

      2. As owners in a country that more and more defines freedom as property rights, they have the right to do however they see fit and this right should not and can not be questioned.

      3. They are an unmovable force that cannot be swayed, regardless of motives or interests, thus the best the players can do is take whatever they can get. This seems to be the argument most accept.

  167. Yet another idle thought–

    Lacob has committed himself to making a splash soon in the NBA. The only way I see he could do that this season, assuming we get one, is eat Biedrins’s contract under the proposed amnesty and put up big bucks for Nene–and that still might not be enough. Also, that would leave him with serious cap problems the next season. But if the season is cancelled, he’ll have a much larger pool of draft picks and free agents to choose from next year, who will be cheaper because of whatever CBA we get and who, because of the larger supply, will accept less.

    I’m wondering if that might not be a reason he and other owners like him might be satisfied with letting this season go. One thing Lacob showed us last year is that he didn’t mind waiting and leaving the team in stasis for a whole season.

  168. @Felt #294:

    “You can’t oversell how disorganized Hunter’s side has been — especially last weekend and on Monday, when they never allowed the players to vote, failed to give them enough information and couldn’t even wrangle every player rep to Monday’s meeting in New York. It took them five solid days to respond to Stern’s offer; instead of countering with four or five system tweaks like Stern expected (he would never admit that publicly because it would belie his whole “take it or leave it” stance, but it’s true), the players simply shredded it and launched the NBA’s “nuclear winter” (Stern’s words, and really, his only inspired moment of the past few months). Anyone who commends the players for standing up for themselves should mention that, during those five days — which doubled as the five most essential days in the recent history of the players association — many players couldn’t even get in touch with their team reps (much less Hunter or Fisher). Those players were standing up for themselves, all right — they were standing up to make sure they had cell phone reception because nobody was emailing them any updates. What a mess. If I wrote a book about the 2011 NBA Lockout, it would either be called Clusterfuck! or CLUSTERFUCK!”

    “The players know they have terrible leadership. Their agents have been telling them that for months and months and months. And at this point, they don’t care. Even though Hunter was an unequivocal disaster these past few months — his lack of urgency was stupefying, his lack of a coherent strategy was almost criminal, his summer media strategy couldn’t have been worse, and his inability to keep his 450 players in the loop from day to day was inexplicable — the players kept following him and Fisher if only because the other option (trusting Stern and the owners) was less palatable.”

    “You know what the real irony is? The owners’ last proposal actually made a ton of sense. Read Howard Beck’s breakdown of what it would have looked like, potentially, and try to find ONE thing that isn’t logical. Contracts should be shorter so fans aren’t getting constantly turned off by that relentlessly overpaid mediocrity. The gap between big market teams and small market teams should be smaller. A team like Cleveland should have a more favorable chance to keep its best player. A star like Carmelo shouldn’t be able to force a trade and get rewarded with a mammoth extension. The mid-level exception should be tempered — it spawned too many dumb contracts and made it harder for teams to improve. What’s wrong with coming up with a smarter model in which the right money goes to the right people? That’s a bad thing?”

    “Make no mistake: The agents are the single smartest group involved in this lockout. They make absurd commissions working over general managers (usually ex-players) who are almost always unequipped to negotiate with them. You know that saying “laughing all the way to the bank”? That’s what the best sports agents do. Trust me, they have done the math. They figured out exactly where this lockout needs to end for them — repeat: for them — and advised the players accordingly. Meanwhile, these players can NEVER get that lost season back from three standpoints: how it affects them financially, how it affects their playing careers, and how it affects their fans (especially the casual ones who hopped on the bandwagon these past two years and will just as quickly hop off). The agents were supposed to be protecting these guys; instead, they protected themselves. Of course …

    5. Jeffrey Kessler
    The agents could never act more selfishly than Kessler, who waited his whole career for the right antitrust suit and finally found his patsy. It’s his chance to become the focal point of an HBO documentary, bring the NBA to its knees and maybe become the Marvin Miller of antitrust lawyers. (It’s a longshot, and we might lose a couple of NBA seasons in the process, but who cares, right?) Those just-as-ruthless NFL owners sniffed him out early, chopped his balls off and eventually shut him out of the final negotiating process, knowing he didn’t totally care about getting a deal done. Now he’s operating in a much bigger vacuum — thanks to a leadership void, Kessler kept amassing power even after his “plantation owners” comment backfired so spectacularly.

    Again, one of the world’s leading experts in antitrust law is mobilizing NBA players towards a potentially historic antitrust suit that could wipe away multiple (repeat: multiple) seasons. You don’t see anything shady there? Giving Kessler a significant say in these proceedings makes about as much sense as putting Kris Jenner in charge of a Parents Shouldn’t Exploit Their Kids support group.”


    Again, I repeat, “From my perspective the NBA players have received a lot of bad advice and have been poorly “led””, a sentiment obviously shared by Bill Simmons in his Grantland piece “Business vs Personal” (see quotes from above….article linked below).

    While there’s plenty of blame to go around (also pointed out by Simmons) the Q & A interview with Grantham really said it all while covering all bases.

    This mess NEVER should have gotten to this point. Monta Ellis and Steph Curry should be running up and down an NBA court while us fans should be enjoying another NBA season…..RIGHT NOW! Instead, Hunter, Kessler et al have led these unfortunate lemmings (players) to the edge of a bottomless pit where I’m sure they’ll soon all fall never to be seen again (lost season).


  169. Steve,

    Simmons really glosses over the 7% BRI the players gave up, which was huge. What also isn’t being considered is how much more the owners had to concede for a deal this week, and while we’ll never know this, the sense is it wouldn’t have been very much. I still put this mess on the owners.

    I can’t prove this, of course, but then again no one has yet demonstrated how all the trade/cap restrictions will play out. My sense is not that it will make more teams competitive, but make the really good teams less competitive. It’s like having a rule to make the goal smaller to handicap the better shooters. It’s hard to believe really competitive teams with a shot at a run don’t need flexibility to add one more player and spend a few bucks. (Did Holt ever go over the cap with the Spurs? I don’t know.)

    The Spurs are a great organization who have done a lot of things right. Holt, I suspect, one of the hard liners now, is preparing for the end of the team’s run. Because, as Simmons says, he got lucky with two of the greatest draft picks of the last decades, Robinson and Duncan (as Simmons says). He can’t expect his luck to hold out and now he wants to reign in.

    I have no sympathy for Gilbert at all. He had Lebron James for 7 years, an eternity in the NBA. If he can’t do anything in 7 years to make the team competitive and James want to stay, he doesn’t deserve him.

    If the owners are fighting back because they feel the players are taking over (caused by the James, etc. moves last summer), they’ve just being hypocritical or naive. Which owner would NOT have taken James and Wade, given the chance? Or, if an owner somehow convinced James and Wade to come to his team, then that’s OK, but if the move happens because J and W get together and decide themselves they want to play together, that’s a problem?

  170. rgg, when you start talking about percentages of BRI that the players were giving up I think what Grantham said in his interview shines the proper light on that entire subject……..

    “I hear the players talking about they’re willing to do this and that for the future. But the future is still good for the players coming behind you. I always look at these labor deals as good, better and best. Everyone is going to do pretty good. If you maintain the guarantees of the average salary then this deal turns around and looks a little different.”

    “When you think through this whole thing you have to come back and ask yourself where average salaries are and where average salaries will be guaranteed to go by the end of the deal. The forecast is revenue will continue to rise. As long as your salaries are tied to that revenue, then the average salary will continue to increase.”

    Good, better and best. Instead, the players, through the infinite wisdom of their sorry leadership, chose (d) none of the above.

    • Steve,

      The players would be earning fine salaries if they agreed to 47% BRI, or 40% for that matter. No one is comparing them to textile workers. My point is that they have given up a great deal to reach an agreement and have, in fact, bargained in good faith and then some. At some point they have to stand up for themselves and define their relationship with owners. They’re not far away from being in the position of having to take whatever owners decide and being satisfied with that. And again, I suspect the owners didn’t have to offer much more at all last week to strike a deal.

      Imagine, though, if that offer last week were made last summer and taken. The major players would have been up in arms over so giving up so much and Hunter would have been strung up. I suspect the problem of the negotiations was finding out just how unmovable the owners are, and how many, which took a lot of time and posturing.

      Like you, I suspect, I want to turn the cash register off when I watch a game. Defining one’s value in terms of cash, lots of it, is not a game I like to play. But I suppose at some point a player wants to define his value, and the value of a player like James or Wade to the league, when you consider how many fans they draw in seats and on the tube, how they help nail down TV contracts and draw advertising revenue, would probably be hundreds of millions, well beyond the hefty salaries and royalties they already make. It’s the owners’ dilemma: the NBA is one of the few cases where ownership cannot replace labor or farm their industry overseas.

      I don’t think anyone will ever be able to define a “fair deal,” not in terms I can appreciate, given the big bucks and big egos involved. It’s a matter of working out a deal that the parties can respect. This is the real problem to me with pro sports, that there aren’t any disinterested parties who have the best interest of the game in mind. Instead we get stuck with owners and big name players and lawyers and union officials, where we can only hope they work something out regardless.

      Fans, of course, have no power whatsoever. We get stuck with whatever these guys decide and have to take it.

      • I listened to the first radio show above with Simmons, btw. Marc Stein’s comments I thought on point–and he quieted Simmons.

  171. The one last chance to save this season? Unless they remove Kessler from the equation Stern’s “NBA nuclear winter” becomes reality.


  172. Steve, I always enjoy Simmons’ perspective whether I agree with it or not. I think a lot of the stuff in this piece is misinformed and simply an expression of Simmons’ rage. But I don’t dispute all of it, including the overall issue of the competence of the union’s leadership.

    However, the issue of whether or not the players “voted” is simply a non-starter. A red-herring. If that were really an issue, don’t you think we’d be hearing an explosion of rage from the rank and file?

    But what is it we are hearing?

    Not one peep.

    Except a little — completely off the record — whining, by a few unhappy players in the minority. Those are Simmons’ sources, if he has any. Why won’t these players step out and speak in the press?

    Because they know they are in the minority, and because they know that their player reps canvassed every single one of their teammates before the decision not to vote was made. There has not been one single allegation that the players were not canvassed. Not one. Not even from one of the anonymous whiners.

    The players voted. It occurred over the cell-phone. Not in a room, with a paper ballot. Because none of the players wanted to drop what they were doing and get in a plane and get in a room and mark a piece of paper with an X and make it nice and pretty and “official” for the media. There was simply no point, as the vote wasn’t close.

  173. A lightbulb went off for me this morning regarding the players’ anti-trust litigation. There has been a lot of puzzlement in the media over it, since don’t these things take years, and don’t the parties want to resolve this sooner rather than later? (I have doubts about that with regard to the owners.)

    I think what this litigation represents is another bargaining chip for the players, something to make the playing field more level. Clearly, now any settlement of the dispute must also include an agreement to drop the litigation. But what if in a month’s time the player’s agree to take the owners offer, but refuse to end the litigation?

    The owners would go beserk. Because the NBA is a monopoly, and there is a very good chance that this lockout would eventually be ruled illegal, and cost them enormous, treble damages. And regardless, the litigation will open up a huge unwanted investigation into their competitive practices.

    But how could they refuse to end the lockout at that point, without incurring additional liability over unfair bargaining? Not sure they could.

    I think the crafty David Boies may be angling towards just such a trap.

    • “But what if in a month’s time the player’s agree to take the owners offer, but refuse to end the litigation?”

      I assume the only offer they’d get in a month would be the hard line, 47% plus hard cap?

      • No idea what the owners might offer. But there’s no restriction on what the players can offer. What if the players offered the owners the exact terms of this last offer, but insisted on going forward with the litigation?

        It is very amusing to me to consider what might ensue.

        • FB, that is a nasty thought, and would probably be a good move for the players in the long run if it were possible. Unfortunately, as I understand the situation it is only possible for players’ lawsuits to go forward if the union does not represent them. That’s why they had to decertify the union. If the union is in a position to sign a deal on behalf of the players, the antitrust litigation can’t proceed. That’s what makes decertification of the union, oddly, good for the union. It forces the owners to choose between lesser evils.

          rgg, “fairness” is not the topic of the contract negotiations. It should be – a deal that everyone considers fair leads to better working relationships – but it’s not, partly because fairness is a subjective, relative evaluation. For most people, anything the owners offered would have been hunkydory. But using the last CBA as the baseline, the players couldn’t possibly see the owners’ recent offers as anything except a huge step downward.

          The players still might have signed a deal if the owners had opened their books or provided any other evidence that a huge rollback in players’ rights and income (more than 15%!) was a business necessity – no one wants to kill the golden goose. But the owners didn’t go there, they opened negotiations with “take it or leave it,” and haven’t moved off that position since. Bringing an attitude like that to negotiations is not the way to get a deal done, with anyone anytime.

          If the owners had instead treated the players more like their business partners (which they are), the NBA would be in business right now. With that approach, they could have tried to impose the rollback in stages, or angled for a short but harsh one-time deal to get past the current economic crunch. The NBA would be playing today.

          Contracts define relationships. Take-it-or-leave-it is a recipe for a lousy relationship, and it comes after one of the most progressive pro athlete contracts in history, the last NBA CBA. It’s not surprising that the NBPA would pass on a deal like that. Frankly, they should.

          Oddly enough, it’s probably even best for the owners in the long run if they don’t get what they’re demanding right now. A one-sided relationship usually doesn’t work out well.

  174. @Felt #300

    “Except a little — completely off the record — whining, by a few unhappy players in the minority. Those are Simmons’ sources, if he has any. Why won’t these players step out and speak in the press?

    Because they know they are in the minority, and because they know that their player reps canvassed every single one of their teammates before the decision not to vote was made. There has not been one single allegation that the players were not canvassed. Not one. Not even from one of the anonymous whiners.”

    Off the record? Speak in the press? Anonymous?

    Felt, Kevin Martin is on record about this issue (see link below). He wanted to vote and was ticked off he didn’t have that opportunity. And if there was one player who felt this way odds are pretty good there were others (Luis Scola has said likewise), maybe lots. Enough to accept the owner’s offer? Probably not but it sure would have been interesting to see the final numbers.

    The voting issue is just one of many arrows that all point to a union leadership group that is rudderless and grasping for straws in regards to their strategy going forward.

    The players want to play and they want to play now but they decided to go Kessler’s route figuring that the threat of litigation would bring the owners back to the negotiating tables. So far no good on that. And if nothing changes soon the season will officially be kaput and all these lawsuits along with the subsequent appeals will drag on for years while the players’ careers disappear before their very eyes. Which reminds me, who do you like in the Giants/Eagles game tomorrow night?


  175. @white hat

    “If the owners had instead treated the players more like their business partners (which they are), the NBA would be in business right now. With that approach, they could have tried to impose the rollback in stages, or angled for a short but harsh one-time deal to get past the current economic crunch. The NBA would be playing today.”

    Again, going back to the Charles Grantham interview, his comments on this subject were quite thought-provoking:

    Q. Do you view this is as a partnership between players and owners?

    A. “They are quasi-partners. Where the players get confused, they are not partners. They’re employees. They’re not partners. Theoretically they are partners because they’re sharing revenue and that it can be a partnership in that we’re both trying to promote the game of professional basketball, but (players) make no partnership decisions. (Players) have no input on decisions going forward as a team, or as a league. I help define an agreement between the players and owners which defines how they both make money vis a vis the collective bargaining agreement. Let’s not get this twisted. (Players) don’t sit in the boardroom.”

    Obviously the players believe they’re partners but the owners have other ideas. You could make an analogy with the restaurant business where the owner owns and the cooks cook. If the food is great so is the business yet the chef is considered an employee, not a business partner. I’m with Grantham on this one.

    • Recognizing and building on a commonality of interest – acting as partners in a joint venture – doesn’t make a business a democracy, as Grantham suggests. That’s actually kind of, well, moronic. Managers still manage, players play.

      My only point is that a business that doesn’t try to work in partnership with its employees union ends up with an adversarial relationship with their one irreplaceable supplier. The current state of the NBA is a fairly typical result.

  176. NBA players overpaid? At least a few don’t think so.

  177. @ Steve,

    Steve, on your question about player consensus, as I understand it even polling the players’ team reps was technically unnecessary for the negotiating team. Until the union says otherwise they’re empowered to use their own judgment on offers. Given the response time involved, I think they made the best choice by not trying to get every player’s input. That could have taken weeks, instead of the hours/days it took to poll the team reps.

    If Hunter had a plan for this go-round of the CBA he wouldn’t have shared it with you or me. He didn’t get where he is by being a dope. I think it’s safer to assume he knows what he’s doing.

    The owners’ current offer stands at roughly a 12% pay cut + shorter contracts + elimination of most guaranteed contracts + elimination of most salary guarantees + elimination of veterans’ rights to any say in managing their own careers. The remainder is a boatload of money, no doubt. But there’s also no denying that it represents a huge decrease in players’ rights, job security and pay. For any union to give up that much without a tussle is simply not conceivable, especially when the owners haven’t deigned to provide any factual evidence as to why any of these player sacrifices are necessary to the business. In comparison, the UAW gave up even more than that to GM, but GM’s books are a matter of public record – and the UAW re-wrote their deal in under 3 months.

    The players’ union has demonstrated a willingness to deal. For 2 years now, the owners have insisted on their right to not deal, and have issued ultimatums and threats instead. As a “negotiating strategy,” the owners’ approach is not a winner, not for any industry. The union representatives are doing the only thing they can do when faced with the sort of unrelenting intransigence the owners are demonstrating.

    Whether we like it or not.

    • One last thought on the non-vote by players–

      I can’t believe Charlie Bell or most of the other player reps made a decision without knowing where the bulk of the sentiment lay with their teammates. After all, they have to go back and play with these guys (in Bell’s case, if he’s lucky).

  178. If anyone can take a long view of this mess–I can’t–I suspect they would conclude that the way things have played out so far is exactly the way we should have expected them to play out, regardless of individual personalities, even Hunter and Stern. Stern can’t control the minor owners now and Hunter gets criticized no matter what he does, giving in too much or not giving in, depending on your point of view. I’m skeptical of Simmon’s criticism he should have decertified earlier. That’s risky, right? And it was his main trump card.

    There is no source of independent review, which is probably too much to expect. Within the existing system, there is no transparency or accountability. I wish there weren’t a gag rule on the owners, which of course, however, is to their advantage. But owners should have to answer to fans and the public in general. My hope is that they would have shot themselves in the foot, but who knows? We might have learned something useful from them. At any rate, this whole process would have been more enjoyable if we had a chance to hear from them. We could have heard Paul Allen moan about maintenance on his yacht (see #288 above) and compared that with Danny Granger’s problems with his batcave:


    • By first demonstrating the union’s willingness to negotiate and compromise, Hunter provided evidence that halting negotiations was a last resort for the union. Among other things, that makes the players’ cases before the NLRB and antitrust courts even stronger.

      The union has now put the whole season (or even two seasons?) on the line, and if the court cases proceed the owners could end up paying damages too – to everyone they hosed with the lockout, not just the players. Facing a complete financial wipeout, do the owners change their negotiating strategy? I don’t see any other way for them to get out of this with their shorts, but I’m not a billionaire and maybe they don’t all see it that way. It would be fun to sit in on their conference calls right now.

      Whatever they decide, the owners still have to make a deal with some players somewhere sometime to have a going business. They might as well keep talking with Billy Hunter. Who else could deliver 30 teams worth of NBA-caliber players overnight?

  179. @white hat,

    “The owners’ current offer stands at roughly a 12% pay cut + shorter contracts + elimination of most guaranteed contracts + elimination of most salary guarantees + elimination of veterans’ rights to any say in managing their own careers. The remainder is a boatload of money, no doubt. But there’s also no denying that it represents a huge decrease in players’ rights, job security and pay. For any union to give up that much without a tussle is simply not conceivable, especially when the owners haven’t deigned to provide any factual evidence as to why any of these player sacrifices are necessary to the business. In comparison, the UAW gave up even more than that to GM, but GM’s books are a matter of public record – and the UAW re-wrote their deal in under 3 months.”

    I hate to continue referring to Charles Grantham’s interview with USA Today but IMO his competency as a leader for the players union so dwarfs what Hunter brings to the table it simply bears repeating as many times as necessary.

    “Charles Grantham was executive director of the National Basketball Players Association from 1988-95, guiding them through record growth until he resigned after a disagreement with the executive board and then-union president Buck Williams. Grantham was part of the union during the signing of four collective bargaining agreements since 1980.”

    Grantham obviously did a great job and knew what he was doing. He tabled his ego and dealt with Stern and the owners in a manner that brought both compromise from the union and prosperity for the NBA.

    In doing his job he kept track of the health of all franchises on a yearly basis as he clearly pointed out when answering the following:

    Q. How does the NBA’s claim that 23 teams are losing money factor into this negotiation?

    A. “If you buy the concept that the league is losing money and their teams are having difficulty you have to be concerned about that as a union because you don’t want the prospect of losing any teams. I’m not certain this move is good for them. I can see where it’s good for the antitrust attorneys who might be charging as much as $1 million a week in fees or the agents who see that seven-point swing (from 57% to 50% BRI) as adding up over time as quite a bit of money. But it also is money that hasn’t been earned. Theoretically you’re losing that money, but at the same time the pie is bigger and the average salary is increasing.”

    Q. Then how can players still believe that number from the NBA is exaggerated?

    A. “When we first engaged in this revenue sharing (1980) four teams at the time, all the ABA teams, had come in. It’s not that they were claiming that they were losing money. After our examination as well we concluded they were losing money. The question is if there is an auditing process, you’ve got to use that auditing process so when the league suggests that X number of teams are losing money you should know whether they are or not. If you’ve done your due diligence and you’re auditing over the term of the agreement, not the end of the agreement, but during that agreement every year, then you pretty well know what the financials look like on a team-by-team basis. So I’m only assuming that because they (union) went from 57 to 50 that they did exactly that. You can’t come back and say, “We think.” You clearly didn’t reduce your percentage because you “think” they’re losing money. You had to utilize your resources to conclude after an examination that in fact that is true.”

    Where’s the transparency? According to Grantham, to a large extent, it’s there at your disposal if you’re doing your due diligence from one year to the next, and is the reason that Hunter came down to meet the owners at 50% of BRI. The union knew (or should have known) that the owners weren’t blowing smoke up their azz in regards to the league books.

    What’s won me over to Grantham’s side is the fact that not only does he speak from experience in working with both the owners and for the players, but his credibility is enhanced, at least from my POV, from the fact he doesn’t “side” with either group in giving his answers despite having worked for the players.

    Stern never said they were going to end negotiations if the union didn’t take that last 50-50 proposal, he said the negotiating numbers starting point was going to change. Hunter, Kessler et al were the ones who stopped negotiating when they took the decertification route. Accordingly, the owners’ position in court wasn’t weakened, IMO. They never said this is our last offer, take it or leave it.

    There are times when I want to see the owners get burned from all this and other times when it’s the players side that has me fuming. Like Grantham said, the only possible conclusion to the new CBA should be/have been good, better or best. If the season is lost these clowns go down in infamy.

    BTW, albeit with an NBA spin, here’s how “awful” the last offer from Stern would have been.

  180. Steve, I don’t know Billy Hunter or Charles Grantham, and I can’t evaluate the words or actions of either of them. The fact is that union negotiators rarely get many options during contract negotiations. They have to fight a big pay cut, or a reduction in benefits, or new employment restrictions. It’s their job.

    Employers get choices, though. The NBA ownership has chosen to pursue an aggressively hard line throughout two years of negotiations, and they have gotten the worst possible results from it. Those are the facts of the matter, not somebody’s opinion. Really, how could they be in a worse spot?

    This ain’t a brainbuster: if the owners want to stay in the bball biz, they’re going to have to approach labor differently than they have.

    I’m not talking about “fair,” or right ‘n wrong, or blame or taking sides, just about what works and what doesn’t.

  181. My turn to cry uncle, Steve, and thank you for all the links. I’m (finally) tired of not knowing what I’m talking about. But it doesn’t seem like anybody our side of print does either.

    If Hunter hasn’t been doing his homework over the years, he should be taken to task. But the impression given is that the union hasn’t had access to all the relevant financial information needed, and that what has been revealed is suspect. I can’t go there.

    Your YouTube says the ceiling before taxes kick in will go from $70 to $101 million by year 10. Is this rise based on projected growth and inflation? If so, I’m starting to question the presentation.

    As for the non-BRI stuff, we have to take the NBA’s word, and I can’t pretend to know how to talk about that. But since the players conceded 50% BRI, I assume it was only a matter of softening that stuff up a bit, and that was not considered. Stern seemed pretty clear: take last week’s offer or they’ll go back to the hard cap and 47% BRI. Or else.

    Nice job by Vince Young tonight.

  182. Bill Simmons in Feb. 2009:

    “Which brings us to the Lockout That Hasn’t Happened Yet. Unless the players’ association agrees to major concessions by the summer of 2011 — highly doubtful because that would involve applying common sense — the owners will happily lock out players as soon as the current CBA expires, then play the same devious waiting game from the summer of 1998. David Stern will grow another scruffy beard. The owners will plant their feet in the sand, grab the tug-of-war rope and dig in. Only this time, they KNOW they will win.”


    Entertaining as always.

  183. rgg and white hat, as Bill Simmons would say at the end of his podcast with Cousin Sal, GOOD JOB BY YOU! And with that I say “sayonara” to ALL of this…..at least until tomorrow. LOL

    Now, hows abouts a good song?

    Ever heard of Adele? She can sing a little. Here she is with Burt B. singing a song made famous by The Shirelles many years ago.

  184. David Stern singing “Baby It’s You” to David Boies? Probably not anytime soon.


  185. “The next ten years is about big money, not merely the percentage of BRI that each side receives. The key issue is the ten-year contract. The owners want a ten-year contract instead of the usual much shorter contract term. A ten-year contract is unheard of in the entertainment field: film, television, music and sports.”

    Did she say “entertainment”? Sorry, rgg, couldn’t resist. LOL


    • About halfway through the article she starts calling it RBI.

      Woops. Commented twice. This is the right one.

      • That’s because she knows how much you enjoy baseball. LOL

        I saw that. Notice I corrected it in the pasted paragraph.

  186. Feeling the business squeeze from the lockout.


  187. Mad and just won’t take it anymore?


  188. @ 313

    It’s those distracting knickers.

  189. How crazy is this? An NBA-related story that you actually enjoy reading.


  190. “We’re going to go down as the longest champs in NBA history”


  191. NBA lockout comment from the national blogosphere…….

    “Businessmen tend to be narcissists. It’s part of the process of ego that gets people to take risks. Now, this group of narcissists (owners) have been having to babysit a bunch of entitled narcissists (players) for years while dealing with risk which the players do not have. Sooner or later, they get tired of it and must think, “We’re not going to enable these babies any more!” and they become hardline by drawing a line in the sand. It’s not healthy, but it is a natural extension of the dynamic established by two competing groups of narcissists.” — Jon. K

  192. Seriously, what would you guys do without me?



  193. A brief analysis of the shortened contract proposals:

    “Shorter contracts mean more turnover, which means more free agency. And free agency, lest we forget, has always been the vehicle for the creation of bad contracts.

    “On the flip side, shorter contracts would punish crafty executives capable of locking in talent to favorable long-term contracts.”


    And Freeman at Yahoo picks the argument up:

    “As such, amending the system only changes the parameters of what defines a bad contract — it doesn’t change the relative effect of a bad contract for a team, especially if the luxury tax becomes harsher.”


    Which supports my suspicion that the proposed changes might increase competition by making it worse, by hobbling the better teams.

    I don’t think you can make rules to make teams more competitive. The only way to increase competition is to give the better teams more freedom to compete, in this case, those teams who have the best GMs and coaches who make decisions in the player market.

  194. DeShawn Stevenson’s remarks about Billy Hunter appeared in one of the links I posted yesterday but this piece comes with a good video featuring Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless doing their thing.


  195. Early AM update. (BTW, hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!)


  196. Here’s a Thanksgiving post (Spears picking up Steve’s MT post above):


    Dorrell Wright’s contribution to the Oakland Thanksgiving meals.

    Happy turkey, guys.

  197. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  198. TK talks about Warrior options (sanely):


    “But I think Lacob is an antsy guy. I know he is. So is Jerry West. They’ve been sitting and waiting through this long labor process and they’re just dying to make a move. The guy they want is Nene. If they can get just enough room to throw a big deal at him, that’s what the Warriors will want to do.”

    We’re going to find out who these guys are in a few weeks.

  199. The big news here is that if amnesty is allowed, the Warriors will no longer be capped in going after Nene. Adding Biedrins $9m per to what they already have should easily be enough.

    Is it worth it to the Warriors to pay Nene the max, while dumping Biedrins and eating his $27m contract? I say yes. It makes them an immediate contender, with one of the strongest starting fives in basketball.

    Now lets see if Lacob can land him. One other feature of this new deal is that the Nuggets should be able to offer him substantially more.

  200. Think how much better Nene would make David Lee (cf. McHale/Parish).

    Nene wants to leave Denver, right? Can you blame him? Lacob said he didn’t want to be a tax payer, but he has a $27m loss to write off with with Biedrins (I like Biedrins. . . .). Unless they get lucky with a trade, hard to believe they’ll get any value from him the next three years, whether he’s injured or spooked or both or whatever. And if they can land Nene, they’ll have expiring contracts to add a few more bucks to play with the following year–Bell (and Amundsen?).

  201. From my reading, it appears that in the first two years of the CBA the cap will remain the same as it is now. That means to me that if Lacob were willing to pay tax for two years he could both offer Nene the max and retain Biedrins if he wanted. In the third year something would have to be done, as the new cap is extremely punitive (and will probably function as a hard cap).

    Personally, though, I think Biedrins MUST be dumped, because I am convinced he is chronically injured and will never again be a useful player for any significant stretch of time.

  202. MT weighs in:

    “Many Warriors fans expect center Andris Biedrins to be let go. But multiple sources confirmed that Golden State has no intention of getting rid of Biedrins through the amnesty provision.

    “The Warriors, according to sources, will be hot after big men once free agency begins.

    “Unrestricted free agents Nene (Denver), Tyson Chandler (Dallas) and Samuel Dalembert (Sacramento) are on their list, as are restricted free agents Marc Gasol (Memphis) and DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers).
    The Warriors don’t have to get rid of Biedrins to afford one of those, both sources confirmed. They’d have enough money if guard Charlie Bell were to be bought out.


    Note he says buy out Bell and not use the amnesty clause–so maybe they’re saving amnesty, which I understand can be used later? If it’s a matter of health and rehab is possible, maybe the plan is to get AB healthy enough for back-up duty–or to get some value on a trade? AB missed the entire final month of last season, and I didn’t hear any explanation.

    • Biedrins made my sh*t list a few years ago so the sooner they dump his azz the better. He’s a finesse player with zero mental toughness. There’s a difference between playing hurt and playing injured. With Biedrins, an ingrown toenail puts him in street clothes and on the bench for weeks.

      He’s never worked overtime on improving his game and his love of basketball pales in comparison to his love of the money he gets paid.

      Here’s a prediction you can take to the bank……when Biedrins gets every last cent of what his contract says he’s owed he’ll be gone from the NBA so fast it’ll make your head spin. You’ll find him on some tropical island working on his tan and sipping pina coladas for the duration, with Joe Barry Carroll on speed dial for those moments when he’s in need of an inspirational speech or two to get him through the day. What a joke. All JMO.

      Tyson Chandler wants to stay in Dallas so if the dollars are reasonable (from Cuban) you can cross him off that list.

      Not a fan of Dalembert. Nene would be a welcome addition, to say the least. I love Marc Gasol but I can’t imagine Memphis letting him get away.

  203. Please, Felt, for goodness sake…START A NEW THREAD ALREADY!!!
    This one is taking my 2004 computer FOREVER to load!