With Carmelo Going To The Knicks, The NBA Becomes The First Professional Sport To Have Stars In Every Glamour City!

Posted: February 25, 2011 in NBA

So It hasn’t been the best week on a personal level – with the death of a beloved friend, but you know, I’ve always believed – like the Obama administration claimed “it’s all about transparency” as Cam Newton is claiming now “it’s all about transparency” and I rooted for this Carmelo deal to get done. I don’t root for teams; I root for deals to get done and things to happen to make my rants more interesting, I am happy with this deal. For the first time in professional sports, since the baseball playoffs in the early 70’s, all the glamour cities….have stars! I’m really happy and I think it’s great for the league.

I read an article on Monday – Matt Moore wrote it, not familiar with his work, but it was an interesting piece. In his piece he says “this is the ultimate empowerment of the athlete, to the degree of forcing teams and decisions into making decisions that they necessarily didn’t want to make, and doing so on their terms, gives a dangerous precedence that has been set for NBA players. That Denver managed to get some nice piece doesn’t matter. They are now re-building, welcome to the new NBA landscape of player power plays”

Umm, excuse me but, what’s wrong with stars having some power? They have it in Hollywood, in music, technology, the star surgeon has it, the star attorney has it, and the star singer has it…what scares people about that? Does every team in sports have to be Bill Belicheck? Having 100% of the power? And players having none?

In college basketball, coaches have all the power, we never email or complain about that! But players have it now…and it scares us. Take a step back, take a deep breath and have some perspective. It’s not like all NBA players have power. Ladies and gentlemen, 11 players were involved in the Carmelo deal…11 players! Exactly 1 had the power…and we’re bothered by that? The other 10 went to places…they had no interest playing.

Don’t we always have lists? “The most powerful people” don’t we love reading those? But suddenly we have a problem if the occasional star player in the NBA has got power. Excuse me, but Lou Pinella bailed on Seattle, remember that? Just bailed on them…and they haven’t been the same since. Oh they got Randy Winn in return. Brett Favre, did he or did he not hold teams hostage? 3 of them!! For 3 years. The high school football star Jadeveon Clowney, #1 high school football player in the nation, did he not hold teams hostage 2 weeks ago? Forcing the teams to keep a spot open for the high maintenance 18 year old?

Listen, the NBA is unique…even in sports. Where one employee, one star player can be worth 30 wins, so stars and their player agents know that and they – like any of us would, use that leverage. The other argument/concern is that “Andrew, all the stars are going to one place…this is bad for the league” Really? Go look at how Ohio State dominates recruiting in the Big 10. Purdue, Minnesota, Indiana, Northwestern….they don’t get the star players. The Buckeyes do every single year. Nobody in Ohio complains about that.

The NHL today has the best parity and competitive balance in sports…yet none of you (the majority of my audience) watches it. There is very little parity in sports. USC has had the best recruiting class in the PAC-10 for 7 straight years. Ohio State dominates it. In college basketball, the ACC, Duke and Carolina dominate it, Clemson doesn’t!

By the way, when Michael Jordan and Chicago went 72-10, everybody loved the NBA. There were 7 horrifically bad garbage teams at the bottom. But the top was great, and that’s all that’s ever mattered. Folks, that’s all that’s ever mattered in sports. The haters are like “oh by the bottom….” The bottom of everything is awful dude! The NFL does a slightly better job, but the bottom of the ACC is bad, the PAC-10 is bad the National League West is bad. Baseball, football, hockey…the bottom is awful and irrelevant in everything…okay?

Here’s an email “Andrew, Carmelo is a trader; the Nuggets will win a championship before the Knicks bank on it! Signed Dan Gilbert” hahaha, funny email! But ask yourself this, before you bemoan and the power of the athlete – and again, I’ll say it. We don’t have a problem with a lot of guys having power, but it’s that NBA star who has power. Before you lament on how bad this is for sports, I’m going to give you something that – and I think the NBA is now back to a Jordan level era. Listen to these numbers.

You know that All-Star game from last weekend, in the “horrible” NBA which is top-heavy. Did anyone by any chance see the ratings? Well if you didn’t, let me tell you. It was the most watched and highest rated game since Michael Jordan played in the NBA. Slam dunk contest…it was the most watched, in the 26 year history of it. Maybe some of you in some certain parts of the country are “uncomfortable” With star players having a little power for a change. But as someone so brilliantly pointed it out to me while I was buying Tim Hortons at UW campus. “Haven’t the stars always driven this league? And anybody whoh thinks the NBA is worse, with 7 great teams, instead of 3, with 10 mediocre teams…is absolutely nuts!”

This is absolutely great for the NBA, with stars, a lot of glamour, in the big cities. Like do you realize that if the NBA playoffs were to start today – this is unbelievable, for the people who think this is bad… If the NBA  playoffs started today, did you know that every single playoff series would have a glamour team? Do you realize how amazing that is? In the East, Boston/Indiana…star studded Boston. Miami/Philly…star studded Miami. Chicago/New York…omg, wouldn’t that be unbelievable! Orlando/Atlanta! There are either stars in every series or a glamour team.

In the West, San Antonio/Utah, Dallas – glamour team against Denver. Lakers/New Orleans…3 or 4 superstars there and then Oklahoma City/Portland. That’s bad for the league? There is not a single series that wouldn’t have a star team or a star player. I will argue all day long…this is not gloom and doom. For the record, fans can be hypocrites. Ohio State Buckeye fan (yes, I’m calling out myself on this one) loves the fact that they get all the stars. But yet they are outraged that Lebron got up and left? Duke basketball and Carolina love getting their stars. Everybody that attracts them or attains them thinks it’s awesome! Everybody who thinks that they don’t thinks it’s the down fall of sports.

  1. Mike Crack says:

    I agree. The NBA, unlike the NFL, runs off the star players and not the franchise brands. People watch to see the stars. It’s why you have such a big turnaround in fan support when a team gets a few stars and becomes good e.g. Boston Celtics when they made their big turnaround.

    In the NFL, there are teams that have long term national support regardless of how good they are. The teams in the NFL have a culture that is a part of their fans. Look at the Oakland Raiders. They’ve missed the playoffs for eight straight seasons, yet they remain a popular team. The Silver and Black swagger sticks with people. The Washington Redskins have been a mediocre team since Joe Gibbs’ first stint with them when they won 3 SBs in 10 years. Still, they have tremendous fan support. When Michael left the Bulls, the mystique of the Bulls and the national support they had dwindled. It’s because people weren’t Bulls fans, they just liked to see Michael, Scottie, Dennis, Tony etc. do their thing and win championship after championship.

    Anyway, you’re right. The NBA benefits most when it’s a tough heavy league. As you alluded to, the league was most famous when it had dominant teams led by dominant players (e.g. the Michael Jordan era, or the 80s with the Celtics and Lakers going at it). When Michael left and it turned to “anyone’s game”, the ratings dwindled.

    Great post.

  2. The “perfect storm” I’ve been talking about for a while now is finally here and it’ll be interesting from a ratings perspective, topic of discussion and headline dominators, to see how much attention the NBA will get in what is sorta called the “dog day of summer” in the sport.

    With NCAA bracketology upon us, the NFL with its impending lockout looming, even to see how many NBA rants I’ll write, the NBA is really on the brink of reaching that upper threshold it only experienced when Jordan was around.

    But I guess the caveat to all of this is what you talked about, where the support for the team is embedded into the culture when it comes to the NFL, rather than just watching or calling yourself a Bulls fan because of Jordan, Pippen and co lead the anchor.

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