The Untold Sacrifice

Yesterday I railed against the NBA for throwing the fans under the bus.  Today, I remind everyone that in these times, the people who really get fucked are those that rely on the NBA for the income to survive.  Tom Withers of the AP recently posted an article on the situation:

Ushers, security personnel, parking lot attendants, concession workers, restaurant employees and others all stand to have their hours cut or join the country’s 14 million unemployed.

“Yeah, financially, I’m worried,” said waitress Jeannette Lauersdorf, a single mother of two, who on a quiet Wednesday afternoon is serving six guests at three tables inside Harry Buffalo. On a night the Cavs are playing, the place has a 30-minute wait for a table. “We’ve got bills to pay.”

For all of the hoopla from D Fish, Billy Hunter, Stern, KG, Kobe, Amare, whoever, about unity and sticking to principals, these ass clowns are completely throwing low to middle income workers inside and outside of arenas completely under the bus.  This isn’t about politics or economics, these are real people that rely on the NBA playing games to survive.

Of course, the NBA has a different version of this story: fans pay for tickets and watch games on TV, and the NBA is supposed to return the favor by displaying the best product in the world.  What the NBA won’t talk about are the massive tax rebates and public funding that several cities across the country have ponied up for the hope of job creation and a stable economic linchpin in their downtowns, particularly in small market cities.  How big of a commitment has the public poured into stadiums?  5 billion dollars… since 2000.  The NBA only exists in the amount of markets it exists in because it made a promise to those cities to be profit centers and job creators.  Now the league is breaking that promise, and in the worse of all possible economic situations.  People can’t handle any more heartbreak.  We turn to sports to be free of all of the bullshit, corruption and greed that permeates throughout all of the world right now.  Instead, we are just treated to more of it, and in the worst possible way.

The egregiousness of this situation is beyond contempt, but the utter lack of accountability on the part of the NBA is even more reprehensible.  Unfortunately the only solution for us is to say “stop watching basketball.”  But I can’t stop watching basketball.  I love basketball.  I love the Lakers.  But I hate everything about everyone that talks about standing up for their rights in this situation.  I’m ok with millionaires vs. billionaires.  I’m not ok with (millionaires vs. billionaires) vs. minimum wage workers.  Mr. Stern, the responsibility is on you to refocus this fight where it matters.  Families don’t deserve to be further shit on because you guys are fighting over 2.4 percentage points.




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Game of (Basketball) Thrones

In 1998, the NBA was hemorrhaging money and fans, and the owners didn’t think it was a tenable financial situation, and they were right.  MJ’s retirement sent ratings and future revenues into a tailspin, free agency was out of whack, and the product of the game was not good enough for anyone to be making money.  Accordingly, David Stern locked out the players and canceled 32 games.  For all of the hoopla about players caving when missing paychecks, the reality is that it was the owners that caved, in maybe the worst CBA ever signed by a professional sports league, ceding 57% of income to the players, and only keeping 43% for themselves.  They were terrified of losing value on their franchises and caved to the players, resulting in a payday for every single current and future player in the league.

Fast forward five years and the popularity of the NFL soared, mostly on the back of a CBA that called for a 50-50 split in income and almost equal revenue sharing, which allowed owners to spend freely to upgrade facilities, train players, and make the product of the game more enjoyable than ever to watch.  Envious of the enormous profits that the NFL was making as compared to the NBA (roughly 9 billion in the NFL vs. 4 billion in the NBA, while the NFL plays 16 games and the NBA plays 82), the owners begin to get antsy with their complete failure of a CBA robbing them of dollars, as well as any kind of fair revenue sharing among small and big market teams.  However, in 2006, the NBA had yet to see an MJ-era-like resurgence in popularity, and fearing an epic backlash, the league and the players agreed to a new CBA that pretty much mirrored the 1998 CBA, calling for a 57/43 split in income.

Fast forward five more years, and the NBA is coming off its most popular season ever.  Basketball is making the front page of newspapers and the league’s stars are again among the most popular individuals in the world, more than just athletes.  Owners feeling that they have done their part to build the game back up lock out the players, crying foul over a 57/43 split which is completely unheard of and makes no sense in the modern market.  Months into the lockout, the sides begin to talk, the players lowering their offer to 54, the owners calling for 46.  Weeks later, the owners raise their offer to 47, and the players lower theirs to 53.  The split begin as a 14 percentage point split, and after a lockout that is incredibly costly to the league’s PR image, the split is now down to 8 percentage points.  Meanwhile, the owners, stipulating that the league lost 300 million dollars, agreed to quadruple their 80 million dollar revenue sharing pie to 320 million dollars, effectively eliminating the shortfall from the previous (tv record-breaking) season.

So, as it stood at approximately 2:30 PM on Tuesday, October 4th, the league had solved the revenue sharing problem, came back from the precipice on all of their systemic demands, and now only had to modernize their income split in order to compete with other leagues, and position themselves to challenge the NFL in the new TV deal to be signed in 2016, which by all accounts should at least double the current BRI from 4 billion dollars to 8 billion dollars (while the NFL’s new tv contract rose them from 9 to the 12 billion dollar area).  Seeing that the players and owners committees were both standing pat at 53 and 47 percent respectively, David Stern and Adam Silver pull Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher aside, stipulating that the owners agree to give the players 49%, going up to 51% if the NBA beats projected revenues over the life of the CBA.  The players countered with a base of 51%, rising to 53% if the NBA beats its revenue projections.  The players reject the owners, the owners reject the players, everyone goes home gloomy and empty handed.

Long story short, the NFL, the gold standard of professional sports in this country, has a 50-50 split.  The NBA had a 57/43 split.  The NBA now offers 49%, the NBAPA offers 51%.  If this were a schoolyard, David Stern and Billy Hunter would have agreed to a 50-50 split years ago, and gone off to have an ice cream cone.  Instead, we find ourselves in a media battle, with the sides 2% points apart, and destined to reach the only spot they were ever going to reach: a 50-50 split.  The players will make more money, the owners will make more money, but yet again, as it always is, the fans get boned in the ass by being pawns in this Game of (Basketball) Thrones.

What. The. Fuck.

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Draft and Trades

I just received an email from my esteemed co-author that read simply: Lamar and Shannon for Raymond Felton and Wilson Chandler.

I’ll respond here: NO!

I just don’t believe that is time for us to start hypothetically dealing away core players.  Don’t get me wrong I am on edge when Shannon is on the court and Odom’s playoffs were far from stellar; luckily for him he was overshadowed by Pau’s disappearance.  The Pau to the T’Wolves for the #2 and Kevin Love rumor and the Bynum in the place of Pau have me shaking my head.  I even read a Bynum for Tony Parker rumor that infuriated me.  One thing I am sure that Mike Brown CAN do (maybe even better than PJ) is figure out how to play Bynum and Pau together effectively.

To quote funny man Brian Hader, “pump the brakes” Laker fans.  The consensus takeaways from this season were that the Lakers need youth, athleticism, and an above average point guard.  Steve Blake was not the solution this year, but I’m not sold on giving up the 6th man of the year for two players with 14 combined playoff games.  This is the curse of being a Lakers fan; we want athleticism, experience, youth, veterans, ball movement, great one-on-one players, and championships.  I may be a rare specimen, but I still think Pau is a top 3 PF, Odom is top 12 among PFs, and I believe Steve Blake will play much better with more minutes and a system other than the triangle offense, which has little use for Blake’s ability to create.  What I’m saying is kind of what GM Mitch Kupchak said after the season, return the core of the team with a few tweaks.

From what I hear from my “sources” (various podcasts, blogs, and tweets) the Lakers are looking to deal some of their 4 second round picks to move into the first round.  They want youth at the guard position and I agree with that, I can only hope that Mitch, Jim, Jerry, and Mike are a little bit more rational than we are.

With that said, how about Kobe for Dirk?! I’m just saying.

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Birthday Present: My Lakers Hangover

I bought both game 6 and game 7 of last year’s NBA Finals on Itunes during the 2010-2011 NBA season.  I thought that I would always love to watch them no matter what happened this season.  I was wrong.

I haven’t written anything in a while, it is my co-author’s birthday today, my present is this article.  I call it; My Lakers Hangover.

I can’t bring myself to watch those games anymore.  I know we beat Boston, and I know we can’t win every single year, but I’m still somewhat disturbed about the Lakers 2010-11 season.  It may be Andrew Bynum saying the team has “trust issues“, it may be that they just didn’t win, or it may be that lingering worry my ever-pessimistic co-author planted in my brain… That the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers may be finished winning championships.  Honestly it won’t be the same for be if they sign a superstar free agent and Kobe gracefully fades into retirement, I grew up with Kobe.  Even when Shaq was there, for me it was Kobe.

My Lakers Hangover feels like it did a month after my 7th grade girl friend broke up with me; not as bad as the initial end of the world feeling, but just that ache until I rebounded.  I need a rebound and with the embarrassment that was the Lakers post season and the impending lockout, my hangover persists.

Despite my hangover I am optimistic.  The Lakers are still talented enough to compete for an NBA title and will have a renewed hunger and focus next season.  I don’t think Mike Brown is the next Rudy Tomjanovich for several reasons; he is coaching a veteran team, he is younger and more motivated than Rudy T (who won 2 championships with Houston in 1994 and 1995), and I have convinced myself he can unite the Lakers players kind of like Doc Rivers did in Boston.  I know that’s a whole load of optimism to drop after complaining that I can’t even watch last years finals, but maybe this article was part of my healing process.

Expect another article soon… Promise.  Happy Birthday.

I’m going to watch Game 7.

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Let’s Make a Deal?

Plaschke strikes again.  This time it’s Dwight Howard for Lamar and Drew.  Before it was Carmelo for Drew straight up.  Tomorrow it’ll be ’96 Michael Jordan for a future first round pick, Jeanie Buss and… Drew.  My man Bill Plaschke fucking hates Andrew Bynum, and I just don’t understand why.  Lets break down the past two “trades” proposed by Bill and see where that would put us.

Carmelo for Drew

PG: Derek Fisher
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Lamar Odom
C: Pau Gasol

Analysis: Garbage.  Pau at Center for a whole season with no backup?  Do you remember how he looked like a beat up shell of himself due to prolonged minutes and three straight finals runs?  Who is going to anchor the 2nd unit with Lamar sliding into the starting five? There’s absolutely no way that this team could have kept up with Dallas as his most recent article suggests.

Dwight Howard for Lamar and Drew

PG: Steve Blake
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Ron Artest
PF: Pau Gasol
C: Dwight Howard

Analysis: Less smelly garbage, but still garbage.  Obviously this starting five is amazing, but a closer look still reveals a roster with four players over 30 years old, and a second unit consisting of Derek Fisher, JJ Reddick, Shannon Brown and two D-league players with minimum contracts.

So in conclusion, shut the fuck up Bill Plaschke.  Maybe Jim Buss will pull the trigger and trade for Dwight Howard, but it isn’t going to be the saving grace of the Los Angeles Lakers.  Maybe adding a legit PG a la TJ Ford and a backup C that will take some miles off of Drew and Pau combined with a reinvigorated Lakers roster that is coming off a horrendous sweep and watching someone else hoist the O’Brien is all we need.  Or maybe ’96 MJ is available.

Follow Nihar on Twitter @niharjshah

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Chris Webber Should Replace Mark Jackson

Mike Breen has been hassling Mark Jackson on national TV since he accepted the Warriors gig a few days ago.  While it may seem like all fun when listening on TV, the reality is that he and JVG know that without Mark Jackson, that announcing team has a lot less credibility and the personality dynamics will go to shit.  So while I was watching Lebron piss away another “most important game of [his] life,” I realized the NBA would be losing a key component of its recent TV success if they didn’t find a way to keep Breen and Van Gundy on the air together.  That, obviously, means replacing Mark Jackson with someone of equal caliber.  They can’t bring in Dennis Miller.

It’s interesting that I feel this way.  At one point during the 2010 Finals I wished there was a Mark Jackson mute button.  But the more I think about it, the more I realize that his insights into the game are directly attributable to his immense knowledge of basketball, being one of the best point guards of the modern era.  Also, his personal relationship with JVG is unmatched.  That may be irreplaceable.  But if you are looking for a smart, intelligent, well-versed TV personality to replace Mark Jackson, there is no better choice than Chris Webber.  Why? I give you one example.

Nothing more needs to be said.  Any one that tells David Khan to his face how awful he is deserves to be on television (or in the GM suite).  In any case, Webber has my pick for the NBA on ABC team for 2011-2012.


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Monta Ellis Would Be Perfect

I know I’m going to take some heat for this one (even here at JBH), but hear me out: Monta Ellis is exactly what the Lakers need right now, and should do everything that is reasonable to get him.  Why Monta?  Let’s take a look at the glaring weaknesses for the Lakers in 2010-2011: lack of athleticism, weak guard play on the offensive and defensive ends, poor bench production.  If done correctly, a trade for Monta Ellis could be an answer to all three of those issues.

Let me explain.  If we consider that everyone on the Lakers’ roster is one year older, then there is no doubt that the championship window closes after next year, at the latest.  At that time, the Lakers will have shed essentially the entire roster, save for Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant, with Lamar Odom‘s contract only partially guaranteed in 2012-2013, and Andrew Bynum up for a contract renewal in the same year.  The team would be heavily relying on two aging superstars in Pau and Kobe, and would have nothing left to put around them.  So, at the risk of losing some familiarity, if the Lakers go out and get someone young and athletic that can ease the scoring burden on Kobe over the years, and be a reliable #2 option to Andrew Bynum, the Lakers would immediately add some juice to an increasingly disinterested set of veterans, and also return to some of the “Showtime” glory that the Buss’ reportedly are craving since Phil Jax’ slow it down, kill you slowly, style.

Who do you give up?  Either Pau or Lamar.  Kobe is Kobe and he’s not going anywhere.  Andrew Bynum is younger and more dominant than Monta can ever be, and is the kind of guy you trade for Dwight Howard.  If you trade Pau you end up with a starting 5 of: Blake/Fisher, Kobe, Ron, Lamar, Bynum, and a second unit of: Fisher/Blake/Brown, Ellis, Barnes, and a yet to be named backup PF and C, but in reality you can put some heavier minutes on Bynum and Odom.  That second unit would put great scoring pressure on opposing teams, and would make up for lack of size on the defensive end with better quickness and fast breaks.

If Lamar is the one to be chosen, which is more likely due to his contract situation, then your starting five remains unchanged from this year, you find some depth at the PF position in free agency, and you hope that Pau and Drew can play big minutes to lock down the interior in the second unit.  But the most exciting prospect of adding Monta isn’t in the first five minutes of the game, its in the last five minutes.  If you believe Mike Brown and his insistence that some elements of the triangle are going to be kept, then this late game rotation would be absolutely unstoppable: Ellis, Kobe, Ron, Pau, Bynum; OR Blake, Ellis, Kobe, Pau, Bynum OR … You see what I’m getting at?  Putting Monta at the PG position on this incredibly PG-weak team would open up all kinds of insane options for Mike Brown to play with, and just having him in the line-up would provide Kobe with the ball-handling make-your-own-shot kind of guy he’s been looking for for years.

I’m not saying it would be perfect.  And seeing Lamar or Pau go would be painful after the wild success they’ve shared since 2008.  But the reality is that the league is getting quicker, in direct response to the Lakers dominating with size.  If the Lakers adjust back to add the most dynamic scorer available, well, I think Lakers fans will need to offer up some more cheese.

Follow Nihar on Twitter @niharjshah

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