NBA player movements continue to dominate the sports news this month – – at least until the NFL teams all open their training camps when the focus will switch dramatically. The news today is that the Thunder, Hawks and sixers worked a 3-way trade and the headline on the deal is that Carmelo Anthony was “traded” to the Atlanta Hawks. The only thing that makes sense for the Hawks now is to move Anthony on to some other team in another trade or to cut him outright and send him into free agency because the Hawks are trying to rebuild their team and they need Carmelo Anthony about as much as I need to listen to Mark Emmert read a prepared statement on the “student-athlete”.
Players who are much lesser known than Carmelo Anthony moved around in this deal and to me the most interesting guy moving around is Mike Muscala from the Hawks to the Sixers. Muscala is a power forward who can shoot from 3-point range (38% over his 5-year career in the NBA) and who can play center if he has to. The NBA these days puts a higher value on players who can play and/or defend multiple positions. Muscala is potentially a very “interesting” player.
Of course, the Thunder are big winners in this trade even if none of the players they receive amounts to anything more than a pinch of pigeon poop. They added immensely by subtracting Carmelo Anthony who did not fit with the Thunder offensive style and who refused to play even a charade of defense there. Addition by subtraction works perfectly well in the world of sports and in algebra…
The 2018/19 NBA regular season will begin in late October 2018 and will run through late April 2019. Between now and then, there will be “juicy” storylines about the next best free agent available for signing or possibly another multi-team swap of players that will change the balance of power in some segment of the NBA cosmos. Sadly, all that intrigue and all that projected change will have to yield the floor to the fact that the NBA regular season will start. And the flat-out fact that dominates the NBA regular season is this:
- It is a 7-month slog that is relatively predictable – – absent the occurrence of key injuries to star players.
The NBA off-season and free agency period is a whole lot more interesting than the NBA’s 82-game regular season.
Speaking of the NBA and uninteresting things, might I suggest that the NBA Summer League is a non-event. It is even less important than MLB Spring Training or the NFL Exhibition Season for a simple reason.
- In the cases of MLB and the NFL, the actual players who will participate in the real games are involved – – even if only as cameo appearances. In the NBA Summer League, you have meaningless games involving players who – for the most part – are going to be playing in anonymity in places like the Luxembourg League.
So, why does ESPN make such a huge deal out of the NBA Summer League – sometimes telecasting as many as 4 games in a day? The answer is very simple, and it has to do with basic math:
- ESPN has a multitude of networks and each one of them must fill the airwaves with programming for 168 hours each week.
- The NBA Summer League is an ESPN “property” for the same reason. It fills time on the air and it provides the opportunity to do re-runs of the event after the fact filling yet more air time.
Switching sports, news out of Las Vegas is that the Las Vegas Raiders will employ Brent Musberger as their radio play-by-play guy. The report is that the team has signed Musberger to a 3-year deal. Brent Musberger is “famous” in Vegas for dealing with and referring to the gambling aspects of sports in those “Dark Ages” when major sports leagues pretended that gambling did not exist – – or if it did then gambling was some sort of insidious force determined to ruin the sport itself.
When Musberger retired from network broadcasting, he joined up with a fledgling outfit called VSIN – the Vegas Sports and Information Network. He hosts a show on that syndicated radio network that deals with sports gambling extensively – if not exclusively. Since he will be doing local radio broadcasting for the Raiders, I wonder to what extent he will do the games with point spreads and totals and things like that in mind. In any event, the Raiders did themselves a favor aligning themselves with Brent Musberger.
A friend who is a big fan of horseracing was lamenting the continued decline of the sport and asked me if there was any single thing the folks in charge could do to revive it. We chatted for a while and finally came to this conclusion:
- Horseracing is exciting and interesting because of the gambling aspects of the sport. If you take betting out of the equation, the sport would die quickly because people are not going to assemble in a specific spot on a regular basis to watch horses run around in a circle.
- Therefore, if you want to “goose up” interest in horseracing, you have to make the wagering experience more exciting/interesting.
- To our minds, the thing that makes the wagering experience uninteresting are the 5-horse or 6-horse fields that are way too common at many tracks. There are not a sufficient number of horses in training at any moment to fill all the race cards at all the tracks.
- Since tracks are not going to close, the best way to augment the racing experience would be for each track to cut back the number of races it presents such that it would be a rarity to see a field of runners with less than 8 entries.
That seemed simple enough to us. I shall not hold my breath until that happens, however…
Finally, since I mentioned ESPN needing things to fill lots of airtime, let me share with you a comment from Brad Rock in the Deseret News:
“ESPN says more words beginning with the letter O are misspelled at the National Spelling Bee than any others.
“Remember, that’s Olbermann with two n’s.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………