Billionaires do not call me seeking my advice; not surprisingly, even my kids do not call me asking for my advice. I’ve grown accustomed to this station in life. Nonetheless, every once in a while, I rise above my lowly stature as an advisor and presume to tell a billionaire what he should do to spend his money. Today is such a day.
I read a report that LA Clippers’ owner, Steve Ballmer, is “chagrined” that his team is still the “also-ran” in Los Angeles when it comes to basketball interest. Yes, the Clippers have had a significantly better record than the Lakers in the time that Ballmer has owned the team; yes, he can properly claim to be the guy at the helm of the franchise that has found a way not to embarrass the team or the city quarterly; yes, he is a visible, enthusiastic and generally attractive owner as opposed to his predecessor. Notwithstanding the veracity of all those things, NBA basketball in LA identifies as the Lakers – not the Clippers – and it would take at least a decade of Lakers’ bumbling ineptitude even to begin to put the Clippers into the alpha role there.
And so, I have a piece of advice for Clippers’ owner, Steve Ballmer:
- Forget the idea that you will build yourself a new arena in LA and that edifice will project you and your team into the top-dog position in the minds of LA basketball fans. What you need to do is simpler – and yet more radical…
- You need to build yourself a state-of-the-art/knock-your-socks-off new arena in Seattle and move your Clippers there and re-name them the Seattle Supersonics.
First, Seattle is where you were while you made your billions of dollars that allowed you to buy into the NBA ownership society in the first place. Second, the folks in Seattle will love you to death if you give them back the NBA team they believe they are entitled to have. Third, as you have rightly noticed, most of the fans in LA will not care that you have left town – assuming that they notice that you are no longer in town. Fourth, you can afford to build the edifice and own it (Forbes says you are worth something north of $30B.) and reap whatever rewards come from that ownership. Fifth, if the city turns down your deal to build the venue and provide the city with something other than an expansion franchise, you – and the NBA in general – can tell the fans and the city fathers there to go pound sand; they will get a team on the Twelfth of Never.
Please do not conclude from the preceding paragraphs that anything like this is going to happen at any time in the future. As I indicated, my advice on these sorts of things is about as useful as a “STOP sign” in the Grand Theft Auto game.
Speaking of NBA teams and ownership thereof, reports say that the Houston Rockets are for sale. Forbes says the team is worth $1.65B; reports say that the asking price is $2B. There have been reports that Dikembe Mutombo has been trying to put together an investment group with sufficient resources to make a bid for the team. If I were to say that this undertaking is a tall order for Mutombo, you would be perfectly justified to groan loudly and tell me to go to my room without supper…
Seattle Seahawks’ CB, Richard Sherman is no stranger to “the headlines”. One of his more recent utterances that got him there was a statement that NFL players must be ready to go on strike if they want to avail themselves of contracts like the ones being handed out to NBA players these days. In a way, he is absolutely correct and in another way, he is barking up the wrong tree.
- As I pointed out in a previous rant, the pool of money that an NFL team has to hand out to players is approximately double that of the money an NBA team has to hand out.
- NFL teams have to pay 61 players; NBA teams have to pay 15. Therefore, players in the NFL have less money per player to be allocated. This is simple math, folks…
- HOW-EVAH, if the NFL players want the luxury of guaranteed contracts – even if those will necessarily be shorter in duration than current contracts due to the specter of injury in the NFL – they are going to have to negotiate that into the next CBA and that will not come easily if at all.
There is a segment of football fandom that just does not like Richard Sherman probably because he does not comport himself the way other NFL star players tend to do. That perception/assessment is accurate and those fans are perfectly within the purview of their fandom to think that way. Notwithstanding any of that, Richard Sherman is completely correct on this issue. He is not – yet – urging a strike; he is not demanding a strike. What he has done is to put the NFLPA and the NFL on notice that if/when this issue becomes a sticking point in future negotiations, he is on record now with the idea that this is a worthy goal to seek in a CBA even if it means a players’ strike/lockout/work stoppage.
Obviously, I have no interest in seeing “replacement players” in NFL games any more than I want to see the return of the ”replacement refs” to NFL games. However, Richard Sherman has laid out fairly clearly here the parameters for one issue in future CBA negotiations and he has done it sensibly and articulately. There is exactly no reason to be angry with him for doing that.
Finally, here is an observation from Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald regarding Big 10 Media Day leading into the college football season:
“Iowa players attending Big Ten media days include Josey Jewell. This is believed to be the highest honor ever for a human named ‘Josey’.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………