Sunday, January 27, 2008

Number Three With A Vengeance

On the off chance that the reader is led to think that the NBA might be ready to jostle MLB for the spot of Bestus Little Brother to the all-encompassing monster that is the NFL... read this little piece in the NYT about the Sonics and their probable last season in Seattle.

In it, coach/scapegoat PJ Carlesimo "shakes his head" when driving past the Mariners' Safeco Field and the Seahawks' Qwest Field, two of the best stadiums in the country, and wonders why his team has to suffer the indignities of Key Arena. To answer that question, the following points.

1) Why is it always about a new arena for sports team owners? Why can't local taxpayers just pay them the money directly, every year, in an interest-bearing account -- since there is no freaking difference, other than an efficiency in the transaction? Perhaps the team could just also send around large men to collect the money, for that personal touch. Call it Team Insurance. Bad things happen to teams and fans that don't have Insurance.

2) In recent court documents, the Sonics produced a survey that showed showed 66 percent of respondents said the team’s leaving (for Oklahoma City, where the team's new owners reside) would make "no difference in their lives."

Hey, since when is that admissible? The Sixers could probably get that number to 90. Knick Fans, so long as Isiah and the Dolans are involved, might break 100% by offering to help them pack. Many Clipper season ticket holders are still not sure why the Lakers are wearing those funny uniforms, and why the celebrity count isn't as high as it used to be at the games. This is a bad road for the NBA to take.

3) David Stern told reporters in November that Settle would not get another NBA franchise should the Sonics leave. One assumes this is a valid threat, since without a team, the city isn't going to go about building an arena.

Now, Stern has to say that to try to leverage the city, but I'm not exactly sure why the league is willing to throw away a relationship with a growing and vibrant Pacific Rim city, especially with the league's success in drawing talent and interest from China, in order to establish a bigger toehold in middle America.

Then again, maybe the league just thinks it's better off playing in cities like Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio. Orlando and Oakland (I keed, I keed.... kind of) that have no NFL or MLB franchise. That way, they ensure a more dedicated fan base. Unfortunately, that logic doesn't seem to be doing much to fill the seats in one-team towns like Memphis, New Orleans and Atlanta (oh, the keeding will not stop). It also means the league will go under as soon as the NFL wakes up and launches a domestic spring league, the way that the market for football absolutely demands.

But in the short run, please note that no NFL team is having issues like this one... and MLB, for all of its constant rogering of the small markets, doesn't have an issue of team owners buying in to just try to move a franchise at their earliest opportunity. Which makes the NBA the third major league, despite a salary cap that makes sense and allows small and large market teams to compete equally, and the largest talent base of any US league.

And finally, this -- when, oh when, will some league finally break down and pluck the low-hanging fruit that is Las Vegas?

1 comment:

tracer bullet said...

But, but, if there's a team in Las Vegas the players could get mixed up with gaaaaamblers. Because certainly ne'er-do-wells, gangsters and hoodlums would never be found anywhere but seedy Las Vegas. Certainly not, say, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Kansas City and Cleveland wouldn't have their own home-grown organized crime organizations. Or drug traffickers in Miami. Or gangs in every municipality with more than 30 people in it.