The NBA continues to make older sports fans shake their collective heads.
The league says they want to have 30 franchises in 28 markets (the New York area has the Knicks and Nets, and Los Angeles has the Lakers and Clippers), but if it were up to the players, there would be six teams in New York, six more in LA, and several in Miami.
Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be good business for the league because basketball, on the professional level, would become a regional sport.
Younger fans don’t care, because you get the feeling, by and large, that they root for players not teams.
In the long run, that’s not good for business unless there is a marketable player on each team, and we all know that is not the case.
After the Miami Heat put together their “super team” after the 2010 season, similar experiments have been tried in other cities, none with the success of the Heat.
The Lakers tried by getting Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to go with Kobe Bryant. The Nets took a shot by getting Joe Johnson to go with Deron Williams. The Knicks tried as well, getting Carmelo Anthony to go with Amare Stoudemire.
None of these efforts have really paid off in titles, except for the group that Pat Riley put together on South Beach.
However, the lack of success hasn’t deterred the players, who are still trying to play general manager.
Just last week came word that Chris Paul and Howard and trying to figure out a way to play on the same team next season, since Paul is mad at Clippers’ management because they threw him under the bus, blaming him for the firing of coach Vinny Del Negro, and Howard is upset because the Lakers’ “big three” didn’t work.
Why is this a problem? If the owners decided to do something in concert with each other, the players would claim collusion. So why can two or three players get together and decide how to play on the same team?
As much as we dislike the Celtics, what they did in getting Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to join Paul Pierce was not a problem because GM Danny Ainge traded assets (a bunch of draft picks and Al Jefferson) to obtain them.
It wasn’t players using free agency to make it happen.
The new type of fan might keep the league relevant for a while, because they will still follow the stars, most of who are created by the NBA’s corporate sponsors,
Meanwhile, the older hoop fans, who the league seemingly doesn’t care about because they aren’t the preferred demographic, will lose interest.
And ESPN, the “worldwide leader” in sports, will continue to blame the poor play of teams led by stars instead of praising the teamwork of San Antonio Spurs.
And where are the new stars coming from? This year’s draft lacks a star quality name, and in the meantime, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Dwyane Wade are getting older.
The young player who may have the highest profile to consumers is the Cavs’ Kyrie Irving. Think about that for a moment, and you should be afraid.
Very, very afraid.