How cheap were the Celtics... and the "Sinister Stern" Seattle theory
Yesterday I was thumbing through a very cool book at Barnes and Noble. Its called "The St Louis Hawks: A Gallery of Images and Memorabilia." Its more of a coffee table book, obviously, than a standard book, and its quite expensive. But if you love hoops, its just straight cool.
One thing I loved about it was it was filled with crisp color photographs of NBA action from the early 1960s. The pictures have an almost "you are there" quality about them.
Well, one thing that those pictures did was shock me when I saw the uniforms the Boston Celtics made their players wear during most of the team's great championship run in the 1960s. You want to talk about cheap?! They look like something a high school would issue for gym class. It was shocking to see greats like John Havilicek and Bill Russell playing in those atrocities. They could have bought better gear at the local five and dime.
First of all, the tops and bottoms are completely uncoordinated. There is no continuity at all between the two. It looks like the Celtics brass said "All right, what's the cheapest jersey you can sell me? Okay, now what's the cheapest shorts?"
And then the quality! The shorts dont even look like they belong on a basketball floor. And then the tops are skin tight and made of the absolute cheapest material available. And the lettering looks haphazard as well.
You might say, "So what? This was just the style back then". No it wasn't. The Cincinnati Royals were wearing actual uniforms back then. I think the Celtics were just cheap.
Anyway, it looked funny... and anachronistic, when you consider just how great those Celtic teams were.
You wanna know why boxing is dead?
I recently bought the Sports Illustrated NBA Preview. Its complete junk. Its just a bunch of "conventional wisdom" passed off as inside knowledge. In basketball, its the mainstream media that's out of touch... the blogosphere is on to the truth.
Anyway, I was briefly reading about the Bernard Hopkins-Kelly Pavlik fight, which is also contained in that issue, when I came across a capsule that basically explains why boxing... a sport I once followed religiously... is now completely dead.
The capsule listed Sports Illustrated's "Pound for Pound" rankings. Here they are: 1. Manny Pacquiao; 2. Juan Manuel Marquez; 3. Joe Calzaghe; 4. Bernard Hopkins; 5. Antonio Margarito.
Have you heard of any of those guys besides the 43 year old ranked number 4? I mean, like, ever heard their names before? I haven't. And there the best fighters in the world. That's why a sport that was once America's number one sport has died. (I also have a theory that Ultimate Fighting has killed boxing by essentially exposing the sport for what it is, but what it has always tried to deny being. Its just basically guys beating each other up. And Ultimate Fighting takes that truth to its logical conclusion... they let their fighters just pound the crap out of each other. In the process, they kind of make boxing look like a silly compromise).
The Sinister Seattle Theory
"Seattle Bucks" will love this blurb.
Last spring I presented my domino theory that had the Bucks eventually moving to Seattle. I'm not going to rehash it, if you want to read it, just use the blog search.
Well yesterday I sort of came up with a sinister cousin to that theory. Let me explain.
I was watching CNBC when they had a piece about the NBA and the credit crunch. Essentially they said the Association might be effected by bank's unwillingness to lend money because the NBA is not a money making operation... many team's essentially borrow against the anticipated future value of the team to meet operating costs -- a value they assume to be constantly rising.
Huh. That made me stop and think. How is it possible that an allegedly unprofitable enterprise continues to rise in value? I mean, if I had a paper route, and it cost me money to deliver papers, who the hell would want to buy it?
Obviously something else is at work. Lets figure it out. What would make an NBA franchise valuable if that franchise allegedly were a money losing operation?
Well, one thing is obviou1sly stupid "prestige". There's always some knucklehead out there who is willing to overpay for a franchise just so he can brag to his blueblood buddies "I own such and such franchise" when he'a out at the country club sipping scotch.
But the prestige of ownership can't account for all of the increased value. There must be something else at work. That something else is twofold -- 1. The NBA's monopolistic ability to guarantee a scarcity of franchises; and, 2. the possibility of relocating to greener pastures.
Well, until last June, there really were no "greener pastures". I mean, Las Vegas is a non-starter because of Donaghy, and are you really going to make a hell of a lot more in Kansas City than you are making in Milwaukee? Plus, I'm sure David Stern took notice when baseball basically had to move the Expos to Washington because there really were no better options.
If you're NBA management, that's not a good situation. Well, Sterny boy fixed that situation, didn't he? With the 10th biggest market in America made franchise-less, the relocation option suddenly has a lot more value, doesn't it?
If you think I'm just being conspiratorial, consider this. In the 90s David Stern stepped in and blocked the Timberwolves move to New Orleans, even though the Timberwolves weren't making money in Minneapolis and had no financially viable arena (the very issue that supposedly caused him to turn against Seattle... but I'm getting ahead of myself). In doing so, he seemed to be taking a hardline stand against relocation.
Okay, fast forward 14 or so years. First, Stern... in a bizarre move... orders the Hornets back to that same New Orleans despite the fact they were making money and drawing big crowds in Oklahoma City... something they never did in New Orleans.
Next, Stern basically takes a dive when Seattle needs his help fending off some carpetbagger who wants to move the team to Oklahoma City. It makes no sense when you consider the Timberwolf precedent. Seattle had a history of supporting its franchise... often rabidly. Minnesota, at the time of the Twolves attempted move, had no such track record. Yet Stern fought for Minnesota and fought against Seattle.
In fact it makes perfect sense. Stern knew that the NBA's business model necessitated an attractive relocation option for future buyers. And he just provided one. He's not an idiot. In fact, if I'm right, he's something of an evil genius. Emphasis on evil, in my book.