February 24th, 2011 at 8:09 PM ^

8 teams have won the NBA championship in the last 30 years. The league has 22 irrelevent franchises and will continue to have 2/3 of the league not matter. OKC is the only small market team of remote interest right now in the entire league that hasnt done it before (meaning pretty much just San Antonio as an "already established" small market success story).


February 24th, 2011 at 8:14 PM ^

Boston- KG, etc.; Miami-LBJ, DWade, Bosh; NY-Melo, Stoudemire; Orlando-Howard; NJ-Deron Williams; Chicago-Derrick Rose; Dallas-Dirk; LAL-Kobe; LAC-Blake Griffin; OKC-Durant; NO-CP3; That's 11 teams with legitimate superstars.  I didn't count SA and PHX because Duncan and Nash are nearing the end.  Within a few years Washington will have John Wall to represent them.  That's a pretty good amount of teams with a star player.


February 24th, 2011 at 8:18 PM ^

Who cares which teams have one star player? The point is that it's impossible for a small market team to develop more than one star because the players run the league and go where they want, where the money is ie the big markets. The competition in the league is a joke.


February 25th, 2011 at 12:52 AM ^

Rick Reilly agrees with you.  He managed to argue that Melo had a much better chance to win a title in Denver than in NY.  He then called Billups old and Martin and JR Smith garbage.  Man, with opportunities like that, why would he ever leave the Nuggs?

The fact is you have a better chance in this league to win with 2 superstars than 1 with a decent cast (just ask, well, the pre-trade Knicks).  Melo realized that.  LeBron and Bosh did too.  Hell, so did Boozer, who could have gotten far more $$$ in NJ but went to Chicago to play with Rose.

People are mad because they think only teams should decide where players go.  They long for a pre-free agency world.  They can't handle that players have leverage or some say in their destinies.  A franchise tag is so fundamentally unfair in basketball, where there are only 12 players on a team (not 55) and there are absolute maximum salary levels, it's ridiculous.

Nobody complaining about any of this is a real NBA fan (except for Cavs fans lol) - it's just people who hate the league because TRAVELING and THUGS.  They hate these young cocky millionaires and want them to live in purgatory in Toronto for 15 years.  The league should ignore them.  I'm not sure the current situation is ideal or sustainable, but 2 players in 2 years having some say in where they go, one of whom WAS A FREE AGENT, seems to have driven people insane.  Unfortunately, it's hard to explain without mentioning the elephant in the room.


February 25th, 2011 at 10:31 AM ^

You're setting up a lot of straw men here.  The choice isn't between indentured servitude and no free agency, and the current situation.

And it's not just "two people in two years."  You seem to forget, for example, Kobe, who engineered his way out of Charlotte.  You forget the infamous "lets all play in NYC" toast.  It's one thing for players to choose where they play.  It's another for players to choose which teams will be good and which won't.  If Dwyane Wade had been drafted by Utah, you think LBJ and his buddies would have all settled down in Salt Lake City?  Hell no.  This sets up a situation where an organization doesn't have to be good, it just has to be located in a hip-hop-friendly city.  Why do you think the Kings want to move to LA?  Why do you think the Nets want to go to Brooklyn?

That's fine and great if you want to be a league for just one kind of fan.  But the fans you dismiss out of hand are a pretty big group of people.  Your flip line about "except for Cavs fans lol" is truer than you think and it isn't going to be just Cavs fans any more.  It's Jazz fans now, too.  And Hornets fans when CP3 bolts.  This league is slowly moving toward having teams clustered in a select few cities.  Not a good thing.


February 25th, 2011 at 3:08 AM ^

Good move for Carmelo the brand and the player.  With either CP3 or Deron Williams alongside he and Stoudemire, they will compete for championships.  The Knicks didn't really give up a bounty to get him.  Chandler and Gallinari are "nice" players, but they were D'Antoni system guys a la Quentin Richardson.  Mozgov sucks and picks in the NBA are highly unreliable.


February 24th, 2011 at 8:25 PM ^

It's almost impossible to have balance on the financial side of any business anymore, let alone sports.  Sports is like any other business: if the owners do what they want, everyone is underpaid and overworked.  If the employees run the business, it's the opposite. 

For some reason, in the last thirty years, arbitrators and judges treat player's unions as if they were the UAW fighting for the rights of exploited workers in the 30's.  I don't know how the "I can't feed my family" argument is taken seriously by anyone when it is made by a guy with a multi-million dollar contract. 

So, what happens?  In situations where unions are really needed, where Joe Sixpack is trying to make a living, they get "busted."  Meanwhile, the unions who are fighting for the rights of all those "poor, exploited" multi-millionaires who drive up the prices of professional sports events are allowed to do what they want. 

Down here in the Tampa Bay area, the hockey team doesn't break even until it gets through the second round of the playoffs.  And hockey is the least player-friendly of all the major sports. 

Players in all sports need to realize that the fans who pay their salaries don't have a lot of money anymore, and that they are in danger of totally blowing what they have now.  I wish the owners would lock them all out in all sports and get things to a more managable level again. 

Then, there's the "dirty little secret."  Players are exploited, but the people doing the exploitation are usually the agents entrusted with their money.  It is the agents who are really running the unions, and the agents who make sure to get their money off the top. 

On the subject of agents, I just have one question: do agents ever refund players who are sued for their signing bonuses?  I'm betting they don't.



February 24th, 2011 at 8:33 PM ^

I can't remember the figures now, but athletes are actually underpaid in an economic sense. I had a sports-minded economics teacher in high school and he went through the figures. Turns out professional athletes make less than Average Joe as a relative percentage of revenue brought in (e.g. Kobe makes 75% of revenue brought in, while Average Joe Middle Manager brings in 85%).

Like I said, I don't remember the numbers, and those are made up, but the concept is true.


February 24th, 2011 at 8:27 PM ^

NBA 5 Players, 2 Superstars. 40% of starting roster+Superstars. Play 90% of game

MLB 2 Super Stars 15% of Starting line-up. Start 20% of games. Bat 10% of the time. 

NFL 2 Super Stars 10% of Starting line-up. Play 50% of the time. 


This is why the NBA sucks. And only a few teams win. This and the fact that the teams that have won championships in the last 10 years other than the spurs have gotten one of their stars for a bag of basketball via a trade. Shaq-Gasol-Sheed-KG/Ray Allen. Unwanted older players who were traded for money/garbage and 2nd round draft picks. 


February 25th, 2011 at 2:59 PM ^

You're watching but there's no way in hell you could win a title in the current NBA by running iso and trying to draw fouls.  The top-tier defenses are just too good and most players aren't good enough to live off of the drive game alone; this sort of play gets exposed during the playoffs. The most cited-to exception is the Dwyane Wade Heat title but that title was also partially won with typical Pat Riley defense and veteran leadership.


February 24th, 2011 at 8:43 PM ^

Whitlock is wrong - the NBA isn't on a bubble that's about to collapse.  It's not like the whole model is going to come tumbling down like a house of cards.  That doesn't mean it's in good shape, though.  The Hornets are already in league ownership because Shinn couldn't find a buyer, and the Pistons' sale is going slowly because the team lost a ton of value and the current ownership isn't willing to accept that.  It's a good thing the Cavaliers aren't on the market, too, Gilbert couldn't give them away right now.

The league has generally always had its best teams in just a few select places.  That was fine, but now the value is starting to congregate, too, and that's not a good thing.  The Kings are threatening to move to Anaheim, which is basically LA.  The Nets are moving to NYC.    These players engineering their arrivals in places like Miami and New York are making it worse.  You can't just say that more teams should be like the Spurs, because by definition that's impossible.  Not everyone can be like the Spurs.

I hesitate to say a franchise tag will fix things.  NFL teams are hesitant to use it because players get whiny when they're tagged.  NBA players will act like two-year-olds.  I don't know what the way forward is, though.


February 24th, 2011 at 10:28 PM ^

The NBA isn't on a bubble now, but it was on one - when Michael Jordan was playing.   The main problem with the league is that its business model is based on the league enjoying 1990s-style popularity, which it no longer is receiving.  It's doing somewhat better now than it was immediately after Jordan's retirement, but it just doesn't have the crossover appeal it had then.  People who didn't even care about sports were tuning in to watch Jordan.  That doesn't happen anymore.  NBA salaries became the highest of any sport in the 1990s (by a wide margin) and then when the MJ bubble burst, teams started losing money. 


February 24th, 2011 at 9:13 PM ^

I'm kind of happy. I'm not a huge NBA fan but I like watching the stars. I would rather watch someone with 3 stars like the heat than someone that doesn't have any stars 


February 24th, 2011 at 9:32 PM ^

The league is experiencing the largest talent pool it has had in a long time, maybe ever, but it's diluted because there are too many teams.  Contraction will bring more stars to more places.

Also, instituting a hard cap will keep salaries in check and prevent teams from selling the entire estate to build a team of two or three players, because they simply can't afford to build a legitimate, competitive team around them.


February 24th, 2011 at 9:53 PM ^

That doesn't make sense.  The league has added one team in the past twenty years, and five in the last thirty.  If the talent pool is in fact growing, then the league is less diluted, not more.

Contraction is another one of those magic wands people try and wave and it's not a workable solution unless a team simply collapses and dissolves.  In order for the league to make a concerted effort to contract, it has to find an owner willing to sell and then buy that team.  They paid $300 million for the Hornets - they'd probably have to do that at least once more for another team in order to make contraction work.  They only did that because they'll get their money back when the Hornets sell.  The owners would never agree to pay $600 million that would just disappear into the void.


February 24th, 2011 at 11:03 PM ^

Well the league has added three teams in the past 20 years and seven in the past 30 - or eight if you're willing to go back one more year to 1980.

However, I wasn't saying it's diluted compared to any other time period, e.g. now compared to the 80s, but that it's more diluted than it could be.  Eliminating teams would solve that problem.

And contraction could be a process, not an instant thing - get rid of teams over a period of time, not all at once. 

At the same time, owners could potentially recup the money they spend to collectively buy out a team in the added revenue they'll get from increased viewership, ticket sales, and lower salaries among other things.  Again, it won't be immediate, but it's not outside the realm of possibility.


February 24th, 2011 at 11:34 PM ^

My point is that if a diluted talent pool is a problem now, it was more of a problem back then when there were still almost as many teams, and they seemed to work through it OK.

The ways you're talking about making money are nebulous at best.  Owners won't see the link between the huge pile of cash they'll spend in the short term and the fuzzy possibility of somewhat better revenue from TV and such in the long-term, because there's too much else that affects that.  And owners in the favored markets already sell out their games, so they're not likely to be easily convinced that contraction will increase their ticket sales.

Besides, how can you make contraction a "process?"  They won't be able to keep secret the teams they're planning on getting rid of, and planning to contract a team six years from now will crater that team's value to the point where the owner would have a legitimate court case to sue the league.  Or are you suggesting the owners will get together in secret and plot to get rid of a team without the owner's knowledge?  That won't fly either.  Neither will picking and choosing a team after each offseason.  Owners just aren't going to agree to be bought out.


February 24th, 2011 at 10:08 PM ^

When there's more talk of a dunk contest, the league is in trouble. It's ridiculously predictable and the only noteworthy thing that garnered true national attention was LeBrn's "decision". It's an individual-centric league.


February 24th, 2011 at 11:07 PM ^

Buzz Bissinger (author of Friday Night Lights) attributes much of the NBA's decline to racial factors.  I agree with him to a degree, but I think it's not just a factor of the players being mostly black (which has been the case for a few decades now) but also with them being more culturally removed from older white Americans than before.  The league has become more "hiphopified," for lack of a better term.  David Stern seems to be aware (and worried) about this, if the league's dress code is any indication. 

Sac Fly

February 24th, 2011 at 11:53 PM ^

This is the problem with the NBA that you don't have with the NFL. We just saw two examples in the last week, 2 relatively smaller market teams who had to trade the franchise player because they knew neither of them would be back at the end of the season. This is the reason the NBA is so lopsided, a lottery pick builds his carrer with a lower market team and when his contract is up he leaves. It is impossibe to sustain success when you have to find a new franchise player every 5 years.


February 25th, 2011 at 12:19 AM ^

Honestly, I don't see what Whitlock is complaining about.  Yeah, some teams have built-in advantages when it comes to attracting players and that can sometimes be exploited to the detriment of others.  But that has existed since the beginning of sport, and outside of baseball I haven't really seen a team in any of the major sports really abuse that ability to an unfair advantage (and even in baseball it doesn't always work out).  

And complaining about the fact that players want to decide where they want to play is incredibly hypocritical given that Mr. Whitlock has changed addresses quite a few times because of more exposure, better money, etc.  Sure, he couldn't hold the nation "hostage" like LeBron or 'Melo, but that is more because there are quite a few fat, overrated sports writers in this world, but far fewer 6'8" men who can jump over cars and shoot a ball from 30 feet away.  And last time I checked, Cleveland and Denver enjoyed a number of years of success with their stars, the owners receiving millions of dollars in additional revenue, and the fans enjoying having one of the best players in the game on their team.  

I think the NBA, like the NFL and MLB, is going to need to make some hard decisions as it applies to salaries and player retention, but those existed long before free agents started actually picking where they want to play.  I don't think any of these moves "destroy" basketball in those respective cities, though I'm sure it sets back those franchises a couple of years.  But so be it - it is the natural lifecycle of any NBA team, and at least those clubs were able to restock somewhat with draft picks and young players.  I'm not a huge fan of the NBA by any means, but complaining about basic supply-demand economics because you don't like where guys chose to play is disingenuous.


February 25th, 2011 at 10:36 AM ^

League is ruined because it's all about the super-teams now, and all the players are dictating where they want to go.

In the 80's, Jordan never would have teamed up with Bird and Barkley to create super teams. They played where they were drafted, they made teams better. And they all hated each other too. Everyone's a friend in today's NBA. Everyone hates Kevin Garnett, but that's it ; otherwise they're all buddies. Lol


February 25th, 2011 at 2:21 PM ^

The Lakers, Celtics, Bulls and Pistons teams that you remember were just as bad about shuffling players as they are now.

Kareem wanted out of Milwalkee for New York or L.A.. Magic wanted to be traded his first year with L.A. and got Westhead fired for Pat Riley.

The Pistons traded for Laimbeer, Mahorn, and VJ, not to mention trading for Dantley and then trading him for Aguirre.

Ditto the Bulls: traded Oakley to the Knicks for Strickland and Cartwright. The Bulls, of any team, had great draft picks and played a very young team.

If anything, the 80's NBA was dominated more by individual, talented young players that a team got in the draft. Jordan was the 3rd pick, Magic, Isiah, Bird were all high draft picks. Sure, I'll grant that they played there careers for one team, but that's before the '99 lockout changed the rookie rules and made LeBron situations more common.


February 25th, 2011 at 2:42 PM ^

But you're talkiing about teams trading players around, whereas now it seems to be the players who have the upper hand, dictating where they want to go.  Very different.  The danger here is that fans of small-market teams may lose hope that their franchises can win championships, and may tune out the league altogether.  


February 25th, 2011 at 10:38 AM ^

1. 8 teams have won a championship in the past 30 years.

2. The fact that people are upset players take less money to play where they want is asinine beyond belief.

3. We don't even know yet if the teaming up super groups of players in big cities will lead to championships.

4. The worst thing for the Nuggets would have been Carmelo peacing out right after the season. I feel he did Denver a favor by making the Knicks believe he would sign with the Nets, but he would have been better off waiting until after the season and signing before he lost potential teammates.

5. Being pissy about parity in the NBA is lame. There's Iowa State fans for crying out loud, and they'll never win anything in football.


This whole debate amounts to people being upset that superstars might choose to live and play in a city that doesn't suck. It's an issue that could affect all sports, but since NBA success is closely tied to having that one great player it's a big deal apparently.

TL;DR - No one cares about the have nots, it's just life.