Monday, July 14, 2008

NBA fans! Watch your back

Sorry to go on with another basketball blog, but David Stern just sold out every NBA fan in the entire country while destroying 41 years of professional basketball history in Seattle and there are a few things I don’t see anyone else documenting, so I feel the need to point them out. Back to the dirty songs in a couple weeks, I promise…

NBA fans nationwide, a warning! What just happened here in Seattle should serve as a cautionary tale to all of you. Watch your back. The ice that the relationship between your city and the Association was happily skating on just got a whole lot thinner. Here’s why what happened in Seattle is almost guaranteed to happen in your city:

To recap the Seattle situation, Stern and the NBA basically came down to having two options: One, go through many hoops (pardon the basketball pun) lose a lot of money and move the team to a smaller market, shedding it’s history and destroying its fan base in the process. Or Two: expand the league by one team, make the fans of two cities, the players union, sportswriters and countless others extremely happy. None other than Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was willing to pay for it and most of the stadium remodel as well. Stern and the league fought hard for option number one. Why?

With option one, OKC basically got an expansion team from the deal anyway. It didn’t get the history, titles or banners. (Who would want them anyway? Who puts up trophies in their house that they didn’t win?) So why not just create an expansion team? Put it either in OKC, or if Bennett really wants to keep Kevin Durant and the like, put it in Seattle and call them the Sonics. Seattle had an ownership group ready to go with none other than Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer involved, one of the richest, most powerful men in the world. Why not have him on board?

Under scenario two NBA fans would have had a whole new team to root for, owners would have received expansion fees, and Microsoft would now be a full-time partner. What’s not to love about this?

Everyone loved scenario two except David Stern and the owners. And here’s why: NBA teams lose money. Despite blackmailing the cities they play in every few years for tax breaks and new stadiums, the owners of this league have a broken model that doesn’t make individual teams profitable, or at least as profitable as they’d like. And yet the owners still turn a profit on their investments. All of it through resale value. That’s what the whole ungodly mess in Seattle was really all about. The resale value of NBA franchises.

What gives these money-losing businesses value? Rarity. The fact that there are only 30 of them and that they give extremely wealthy people status. Despite being money-losers constantly dependent on government handouts, the fact that there are only 30 NBA teams and more than 30 billionaires who want them makes them constantly spiral upwards in value. Expansion makes great sense for fans and for the players but it doesn’t make money for the already very wealthy owners. So presented this choice, Stern naturally chose the owners. To a stock speculator, all that matters is the price of the stock. The employees? The product? The quality? None of that matters if the stock can’t be resold for significantly more than it was purchased for.

So why does the NBA not want Steve Ballmer? Because the THREAT of Steve Ballmer is more powerful. The threat of Steve Ballmer wanting to buy a team and move it back to Seattle immediately increases the value of every existing franchise. The threat of Steve Ballmer moving your team makes it that much easier to extort the local citizenry for tax handouts, leases, and stadiums. Steve Ballmer and his friends have the money to buy the Celtics or Lakers. Nobody is safe. No wonder the NBA gladly paid 75 million to buy off Seattle for a few years. They just made all 30 teams worth ten million dollars more.

Stern has just set a precedent that no team is secure in its current location and that he will go to incredible lengths, including outright lying and slander towards a city and its fan base to wrest a team from one place to another. And now he has Microsoft money as his bogeyman. “Hey New Orleans! Like Chris Paul? Yeah, Ballmer likes him too. Best do what we say.” “Hey, Memphis, Sacramento, Charlotte and all you small markets. Sure your teams are sub-standard, but you’d better pay some big market prices, because big bad Steve Ballmer is out there and those Seattle fans showed they can carry a franchise for 41 years! We want fountains flowing Krystall in the locker rooms. Can you swing that? I’m sure Ballmer wouldn’t have a problem with it. Hmm…”

So remember NBA fans, of which I no longer can really say I am still one. Your loyalty, season ticket purchases, cheers, longsuffering… make sure they increase the resale value of your “franchise.” Because David Stern has just positioned it so that the wolf is always at your door. The NBA cares. Fan-tastic!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sonics leaving. A plan of action and revenge.

OK. So the Sonics are leaving. I’ve been trying to put into words how hurt and angry and horrified I am, as a sports fan, Sonics fan, and citizen of the United States of America but it’s just not coming out right, so it’s going to turn into some random angry thoughts:

First off, let’s stop blaming our local leaders. Yeah, they didn’t do much, but what could they do? What could any of us do? We’re just citizens of the United States of America. We traded in any actual power we may have had as CITIZENS during the Reagan Administration so that we could become CONSUMERS instead. And as consumers with, well, no money, turns out we don’t really have any power at all. Yeah. Good trade.

So don’t blame our state and local elected officials. Let’s blame Clay (Asshole) Bennett and David (Fucking) Stern. They’re the corporate lackies who forced this to where it is, they’re the carpetbaggers who stole a piece of our history and culture, and they’re the ones who have turned the NBA from something special into a not-so-profitable business.

Now we’ve blamed the right people. And once you’ve blamed the right people, what do we as good Americans do? No! We don’t invade Iraq. Stop that. We get Payback! Payback against the RIGHT people. Clay Asshole Bennett and David Fucking Stern.

Here’s how we gets us some good old fashioned-Mel-Gibson-Passion-of-the-Christ Payback!

First, David Fucking Stern and Clay Asshole Bennett are not allowed in our State ever again. I don’t know how to legally do this, but I’m sure there’s a way. We have the greatest state in the world. The west coast of Western Civilization. What do you do when a spouse leaves you, then insists on hanging around? You get a restraining order. Sorry Clay (Asshole) you will never get to see the sun set over Puget Sound or rise over Mt. Rainier, except maybe on YouTube.

Second, Let’s bring them down. Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell are you listening? It’s time for congressional inquiries into the NBA. Seriously. Do you know how sports teams make their money? The public teat. All of them. OK, fine, I’m for a little help to certain industries from government, but this jerking around of cities and pitting them against each other has got to stop. The value of these teams keep getting inflated by government hand-outs in the form of stadiums, luxury boxes and tax breaks, and that has to end. These swindling owners can’t claim to be "public institutions" and "just plain 'ol businesses" at the same time. Let’s get Congress to gut this sham.

Third, speaking of Congress, let’s nationalize the oil industry. You know how people keep accusing Democrats of being socialists but what do we ever even try to socialize? Health Care sort of, but not even that really. So fuck it. You wanna call us socialists? Howzabout we socialize the American Oil Industry? All energy in fact. Would there be a downside? Probably. But upsides? One: We probably wouldn’t be in the stupid war to privatize Iraq’s oil we’ve been in. Two: Income tax would be lessened by all the money we could make off the oil under OUR country’s land that we right now pay guys like Clay Asshole Bennett to take out of the ground for us, and Three: We could VOTE on the price of gas instead of being told to just bend over and take it by Four: people in the industry like Clay Asshole Bennett so that he can turn around and spend it buying our sports teams and moving them just because he was born with such a ridiculously small penis.

Fourth, Sir Mix-a-lot, your city needs you! Times like this call for devastating ridicule through rap! Hey, you know what? Clay Asshole Bennett and David Fucking Stern both have big butts and I can not lie! Start with that and run with it baby! I know you’ll make us proud!

Fifth, Let’s sleep around. OK. So this was like a marriage, and someone stole our wife. They lied about us to do it, kicked our name around and it got ugly, like, well a divorce. So what do you do in such a scenario? Right! Whore yourself to everyone in town. Show them what they’re missing. Yoo hoo! NHL! Can we have a team? We got 45 mill from our ex and we just wanna spend it all on you! MLS? Indoor Lacrosse? Oh yeah! You know Seattle’s hot to trot! In fact the best thing would be to bring back the ABA, which will be like sleeping with the NBA’s brother. Will we regret it? Oh yes, probably. Especially when we wake up one morning with an Arena Football team we have to cook an impromptu omelet for. But the main thing is that it will HURT Clay Asshole Bennett and David Fucking Stern. Every cheer we send up, every ticket we buy, every World Team Tennis Novelty Foam finger we buy, we’ll be letting them know what they could have had and they no longer get.

And that’s the way we get over this. We don't get over this. This is a soulless awful, shortsighted corporate idiotic move that makes no sense to anyone. Score it like this:

Seattle loses 41 years of History, loyalty, civic pride, and cheers.
OKC gains a business, a glorified expansion team, and a rich man's toy.
David Stern gains the ability to continue to blackmail local governments, the only way his poorly structured corporation can make money.
NBA fans lose rivalries, security, and the illusion that fans matter.

Sorry to just incoherently rant this week, but I'm stunned into incoherence but this incoherent move. Now if anyone needs me, I'll be getting drunk.
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