My Gchat comrade Ethan @SherwoodStrauss slapped up an interesting post on Warriorsworld.net late last week. To summarize Strauss’s own summary of a Tim Kawakami interview with new Warriors owner Joe Lacob in the Mercury News, Lacob basically said that that owning a pro franchise was a license to print money. It was a statement that Lacob’s new colleagues around the NBA probably didn’t appreciate. After all, David Stern (as Strauss points out) has been on a PR crusade to promote his wildly successful sport’s financial failures.
This meme is, implicitly at least, a condemnation of Stern’s own abilities. How can he mismanage a league with more young, relatively clean cut stars than any time since the mid 1980s? How can a league with an asset worth as much to a franchise as LeBron James–according to Forbes his departure lowered the franchise value of the Cavaliers by at $85 million–be losing $400 million dollars each year?
Well, unlike the MLB, which had its dirty financial diapers paraded on Dead Spin, the NBA has kept its books completely closed. So we don’t have a very clear picture of how Stern’s accountants came up with this number.
But Lacob’s comments shed some light on the NBA’s shadowy math. About owning the lowly Warriors, who have a dysfunctional front office and a number of players allergic to victory, Lacob said:
“This is an incredible business opportunity. Turning this into a winner No. 1 and running this business better in certain ways… Look, sports franchises appreciate 10% a year on average over three decades, the last three decades. There’s no reason to think this won’t appreciate in value. So that is the least of my worries. We will make money on this team in appreciation of value.”
Unlike James Dolan, Joe Lacob knows a
I see the Shaq signing as a point of leverage allowing Ainge to similarly influence the value of Kendrick Perkins as the young center enters free agency in 2011. When the Celts signed Shaq for $1.3 million, they did so to shore up their frontline, but they have also unintentionally saved themselves millions on Kendrick Perkins in the future.
I recently had the awesome opportunity to write a feature I hope will be published in a magazine I won’t announce because I don’t want to jinx it about a rising NBA player—called Player X here.
For this story I had the excellent interview with Player X, who is a highly intelligent, articulate and thoughtful dude. He was able to answer questions that got to the very root of why he loves to play basketball, a feat that many writers who’ve played for years (like myself) would have difficulty committing to a page. Yet he extemporaneously explained how he came to desire that grind that is necessary for all but the very privileged few to reach the NBA.
As a part of my research on this unnamed athlete, I talked to his high school coach, an Assistant coach from his college team and the Assistant GM of his new NBA team.
Although I tried my best to remain focused on my subject, I became fascinated with the clear delineations in how each interviewee viewed the player visa vis the level of basketball they represented.
The high school coach had a molasses smooth Southern drawl and an extremely endearing way of repeating the points he felt were most salient. “And he did that in a practice scrimmage… a prac-tice scrimmage. It was clear that he was in the profession of establishing emotional connections with his players and that he viewed himself as a teacher of habits like hard work and discipline as much as the triple threat position and taking charges.
The engaging coach was both self-deprecating and self-congratulatory, managing to avoid credit for his player’s success while, by the very way he told his stories, implying he was there every step of the way. I admit, by the end