We’re only a few hours from lock-out, and something’s already bothering me about the owners’ position on the NBA collective bargaining agreement. Thankfully, the Salt Lake Tribune went ahead and said it out loud. From “Shutdown: NBA Owners Lock Out Players.”
“Parity and improved competition are also at the heart of the league’s desire for change. Superstars such as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony controlled the 2010-11 fates of their former clubs, dictating where they wanted to play – Miami, New York – and damaging the futures of franchises in Cleveland and Denver. In addition, most small-market teams lack a realistic chance to win the NBA championship before the season even starts, while several clubs have either been sold or put on the market during the past year.”
There’s a lot wrong with that paragraph. But let’s look at two reasons.
Reason One: If small markets are hurt by their team, they sure aren’t showing it.
I don’t have any sympathy for small market teams, especially not in a league where profit-sharing allows small market teams to ride piggyback on merchandise sales of its larger market brethren, and ESPECIALLY not in a league where a salary cap dictates how much you can spend on your team.
To say most small-market teams lack a realistic chance to win the NBA championship – and to assume that large markets are given some kind of free “get to the second round for free” pass – is pretty short-sighted.
Just a reminder: the smallest markets in basketball last year were:
1. Memphis – Bad for some years, fantastic last year, filled with young talent and ready to make a leap.
2. New Orleans – Injury riddled and still reeling from some hurricane.
3. San Antonio – Four championships in the past twenty years.
4. Salt Lake City – A power through the 90s, a upper-tier team until recently
5. Milwaukee – Pretty awful.
And the five biggest non-NBA markets:
1. Tampa/St. Petersburg
2. St. Louis
4. San Diego
So, the “small market” argument says that, if the five smallest markets were replaced by the five biggest non-markets, those teams would suddenly gain some kind of advantage? Would the San Diego Spurs or St. Louis Bucks suddenly be better?
While we’re at it, let’s look at the five biggest market teams:
1. New York – One playoff team in the past decade
2. Los Angeles – One team with tons of titles: the other with tons of lawsuits
3. Chicago – The best team in the world in the 90s, woefully underperforming through the 00s and until recently.
4. Washington – Snicker.
5. Boston – They’re good now. But remember the Antoine Walker years?
Reason Two: The league didn’t force someone like Dan Gilbert to purchase or create a basketball team in a place like Cleveland.
Last I checked, there was no dictate that allowed the NBA to force an owner to buy a team in a small market for more than it is worth. On the contrary – owning a basketball gives some people SUCH a hard-on that they’re willing to overspend.
If I buy a Mini Cooper, and I live in the mountains, I don’t have the right to complain about how my small engine makes it too difficult to travel over a mountain pass. And I certainly don’t have the right to expect the state to tear down the mountain to make a more level road.
You can’t blame your 400 million dollar purchase of a sports team – and the subsequent inability to sell said 400 million dollar sports team – on the players.
One More Thing
LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony controlled the 2010-2011 fates of their former clubs by dictating where they wanted to play, eh?
Well. Kind of.
Carmelo Anthony improved the future of the Nuggets. By requesting a trade, Carmelo guaranteed that the Nuggets would receive SOMETHING for their superstar, as we now see he had no desire to stick around in Denver. And LeBron, sure. He’s a dick. That’s easy. But he also worked the free agent market the way he could. The way any of us are allowed to when we want a new job.
So did Kobe Bryant, back in 2006. Remember that? When he flirted with signing with the Clippers until Lakers management traded Shaquille O’Neal for next to nothing and – coincidentally – signed with the Lakers the next day? Now THAT was a jerk move. But, that being said, the question is still worth asking: why are we blaming players for the desire to switch jobs?
Parity is a fallacy. Parity is designed to allow bad general managers the chance to make bigger mistakes with smaller consequences. Parity hurts America, and it promotes communism and clubs seals and forces babies to become prostitutes. It gives Clippers fans hope that, despite a history of horribly managed basketball decisions (very very LARGE MARKET decisions, by the way) that they have a chance.
Argue about player salaries and cash and lockouts all you want. Just don’t position things like the players have some kind of upper hand. It takes two people to sign a contract, after all.