The NBA Stakes Rise

November 6, 2011

Since I last wrote on this topic, little relevant progress has been made.  The players have conceded considerable turf on the split of revenue, but haven’t given up on hard caps.  The owners have learned way too much from David Stern about how to be threatening bullies:  the New York Times reported this morning that Stern has announced that the players must accept the owner’s “best and final offer” by COB Wednesday or else accept a “worst and final offer.”  Buried in the article is the blood boiler:

Joining the owners’ delegation were two of the leading hardliners — Charlotte’s Michael Jordan and Portland’s Paul Allen.

After Stern bullied Seattle and killed the Sonics franchise, I adopted Portland.  Now this?  If there is a season, Dallas is the lone remaining alternative (and a pretty good team!).  Alaska Airlines flies three times a day.  The noon flight should get me there by game time.  Early flight home.


NBA Labor Relations: The Lesson of Green Bay

October 2, 2011

I don’t follow the Mariners and baseball overall nearly as carefully as I used to.  I follow the Seahawks, I’m watching the game out of the corner of my eye right now, but I am not a rabid fan.  Even without the Supersonics, the NBA remains my professional sport of choice.

With the Sonics gone, I have taken to trips to Portland for live action coupled with TV.  That the Jailblazer era is long over, that Mac 10 is coach, and UW’s Brandon Roy is a top player makes it easy to look past the Portland-Seattle rivalry of the past.  And Snohomish’s Jon Brockman…the Brockness monster…gives me reason to keep Milwaukee on my radar as well.

Not surprisingly then, the impending NBA labor fiasco is disturbing.  The NY Times’s Howard Beck reports today that yesterday’s bargaining session ended “without much progress”.  David Stern makes empty threats, answering the press regarding his settle now or there will be “enormous consequences”:  “I don’t take myself as seriously as you do.”  Aren’t I suppose to take the commissioner seriously and at his word?

All this pain for fans is rooted in a simple situation, for which I hold the owners more responsible.   The league taken together makes lots of money.  But 23 teams lose money.  Why: TV revenue is not shared.  As an example, revenue in Portland is about 10% of that in New York.  I am fine if team payroll is hard capped (which the players oppose, give that up players), but the owners seeking a cap level under which all teams can be profitable without instituting revenue sharing (not in the owners thinking) is not a workable solution.  All speaks to the inability of the commissioner to do anything to offend an owner.  Stern much prefers to bully players and fans.  (Full disclosure:  I am not very tolerant of Stern who has a long history of bullying behavior, best exemplified in destroying the Seattle Supersonic franchise.)

Why is it the NFL has this all figured out and the NBA cannot?   There are storied small market teams in the NFL (for example Green Bay stands out), but one rarely connects the word dynasty with any NFL team.  Makes for a competitive, interesting league.   Figure it out Stern.

Caltech Basketball Conference Loss Streak Broken!

February 23, 2011

Big news this week is the Caltech win over Occidental, breaking a string of 310 basketball losses in SCIAC league play dating  to 1985.  Widely covered in the national print, television and radio.

Each of the Caltech teams has similar challenges.  Son Mark played soccer for three years and experienced four wins.  I played baseball for a short while and we were in a streak of some sort.  I see in the NY Times article today that the present baseball team is on a 412 game conference slide.  Football is long gone from Caltech, but I have memories of our California Boulevard bonfire in celebration of what may have been the last win, circa 1972.  (Ironically UCSD had abandoned football upon my arrival in 1973, the victim of that loss.)

This should bring a revival of interest in the documentary Quantum Hoops which chronicled how close the team came in 2006 to breaking the streak (and made me aware that the last conference win was over a Pomona-Pitzer team coached by Gregg Popovich and that my undergraduate advisor Fred Anson was considered the best Caltech basketball player ever).  Dean Oliver, a late 80s point guard for the Beavers, became a statistical wizard for the Seattle Supersonics and is now with the Denver Nuggets.  He is known for his book “Basketball on Paper”.  And foremost I’m a huge fan of Fred Newman, a player in the 50s and later an assistant coach who holds the record for free throws made in 24 hours (20,371) and who drained 88 in a row blindfolded.  (My personal record is 88, without blindfold.)

Secant, cosine, tangent, sine…logarithm, logarithm, hyperbolic sine…3 point 1 4 1 5 9…slipstick, sliderule, tech, tech, tech.  Go Beavers!