by Michael Lowrey
The UPoR got to talk in Memphis to NBA guy in charge David Stern and the results are revealing.
First we have the collective bargaining talk, which he aimed especially at small markets teams like Charlotte and Memphis. Teams that are likely losing money. Teams that aren’t going to be competing for an NBA title anytime soon. And Stern explicitly says that a hard salary cap like that which exists in the NFL would help small market teams become competitive.
“(Owners) want this league to be as competitive as possible, and they recognize that certain teams will lose the edge that they now have by virtue of generating more money and their willingness to pay taxes.’’
Stern said the only way to reach that balance is collectively. “Everybody who owns a team wants to compete, and the pressures are extraordinary to retain your talent,’’ Stern said. “No one wants to say, ‘I’m not paying because I represent the second-class franchise.’ So we have a system that pushes payments up in ways teams sometimes can’t afford.’’
The NBA, of course, has long had a massive competitive balance problem. And this doesn’t seem to have particularly bothered Stern in the 20+ years he’s been running the league. It’s difficult though to find this new love for competitive balance and desire to help small markets seriously because of the other item mentioned in the article:
Stern said he expects NBA franchises to be placed in Europe within a decade, based on the interest, available ownership and arenas either constructed or being planned.
The possibility of having teams in Europe says to smaller markets that they will have to do more — much, much more really — to keep their NBA franchise in town. Because if they aren’t throwing much bigger bucks at their local NBA owner, then well, goodbye New Orleans or Sacramento or Memphis or Charlotte, hello London or Rome or Paris.
This also exposes the supposed importance of obtaining more competitive balance as utter BS. Because nothing says “we want money and don’t care about the product” like the performance sapping jetlag that comes from the combination of an NBA schedule with teams in Europe.