Note to NBA: Get It Right!

It appears likely that the first two weeks of the NBA season will be postponed due to the current labor situation, which has the players locked out. 

It is said the hold up is the percentage the players will get out of basketball related revenue.  The players were receiving 57% and are willing to settle for 53%.  The owners want to slice the money pie up 50/50.

Let’s hope the owners hold out and get the system right.  That is, a system that allows every team a chance to win, not just those in large markets with deeper pockets.

The NFL should be the gold standard for all sports.  True, they play once a week, so it is easy to market the sport as a “happening”, but just look at the participating teams in the last two Super Bowls.

To refresh your memory they are the Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.  No teams from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, or Chicago. 

That’s one of the reasons why the NFL is so successful…fans know if there teams are smart and draft good players, they have a chance to win a championship. 

For those in Cleveland, even the Browns, with the right drafting and coaching, can end the city’s title drought, which has been since 1964.

In the NBA, when was the last time the Milwaukee Bucks were relevant?  The Indiana Pacers?  The Sacramento Kings? 

Yes, if you have a great player, you will be able to have a shot, but in today’s basketball, it is rare that a superstar wants to play his entire career in Orlando (like Shaquille O’Neal), Toronto (Chris Bosh), or yes, even Cleveland like LeBron James. 

Funny, Peyton Manning has become quite famous playing for the Indianapolis Colts, and every knows who Brett Favre is, despite playing most of his NFL life in Green Bay. 

Tim Duncan decided to play in San Antonio when he became a free agent, and that allowed the smaller market Spurs to be relevant in pro basketball for a long, long time.  But more and more, Duncan is the exception.  Today’s athletes want the bright lights of New York, Los Angeles, and yes, Miami.

However, the sport needs to have franchises in other areas beside those mega cities.  To be a national sport, you must have teams in the midwest, south, and northwest.  And fans of those teams need to know, that with the right management and shrewd players moves, they will have a shot at hoisting a banner proclaiming a world title.

Much has been made about baseball’s top payrolls advancing in this year’s post-season. The Phillies, Yankees, and Red Sox are all out of the running in 2011.  However, these teams response to this “failure”, will not be to say spending cash doesn’t work, they will just feel that they didn’t spend enough. 

That will create more disparity between the large markets and the small and mid-markets.

Some people will say Cleveland and Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert would sing a different tune had James remained in Cleveland.  There probably is some truth in that, but today’s NBA players want to be paid a premium to play in a small, cold city like Cleveland.  That’s just the attitude that exists for today’s pro hoopster.

The NBA needs to create a league where all teams, if run correctly, have a chance to win, and that any city with an NBA franchise is a great place to play, unless the owner is a complete buffoon (see Clippers, Los Angeles).

The owners should not reach an agreement until this is addressed.  They could join the NFL as the model for professional sports leagues if they do just that.

MW

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