NBA is Finding More Reasons to Shorten It’s Regular Season

Silver
Silver
Adam Silver wants to explore a shorter regular season and I can see why.

I mentioned last week that National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver was contemplating changes to the season schedule. To be honest, the owners are unlikely to be in favor of any changes that reduce the number of games. With each team currently hosting 41 games, the reduction of any means the reduction of gate money.

Oh, did I forget it also means lost money on team gear, food, beverages and arena parking?

There is one way owners can recoup the lost income however and that’s to raise prices on all of the above and that worries me. Ticket prices are already preposterous and so are concession prices. It’s pretty much to the point where you need to have a kidney ready in order to pay for a round of beers.

What’s so interesting is that at a time when the National Football League is flirting with adding an extra game or two, Silver is instead looking to go into another direction. I don’t think we need to worry too much about NBA owners heading to the streets to look for hand-outs though.

I think where you’ll see things change isn’t so much with the NBA’s regular season but with its’ preseason. For years the league has pushed preseason games out of the country in an effort to drum up more support for the game. With places like China and many countries in Europe hosting NBA preseason games, the wear and tear on players has increased.

You might ask how top players are getting worn down by playing just a few minutes in meaningless preseason games but it’s the travel and time changes that take a toll. This, at a time when players are supposed to be getting ramped up for the grueling 82 game schedule.

I’m guessing that Silver will seek a reduction in preseason games and perhaps limits to out of country games as well. Regardless of his decision you can rest assured the NBA’s owners will not be losing money.

KD
Kevin Durant is seeing himself back to the bench following another procedure on his bad foot.

On a separate yet very connected story, injuries are all the rage in the NBA today. If you needed further evidence of why Silver wants to reduce the regular season schedule than look at the news from the league today.

Kevin Durant, who is trying to get his Oklahoma City Thunder back in the playoff race, had a medical procedure done his previously injured foot and will be re-evaluated in a week or so.

Also on the bench for the next week or two is New Orleans’ Anthony Davis who is out with a sprained shoulder suffered in Saturday night’s game against Miami. This is not the first time that Davis has missed some time this season and like many others is part of the motivation for a shortened regular season.

Last but certainly not least is Boston’s Jared Sullinger is who out for the remainder for the remainder of the season with a bad left foot. While both Sulinger’s Celtics and Davis’ Hornets aren’t exactly going anywhere related to the postseason, they do represent young stars of the league.

Adam Silver needs players like these to be on the court whether their respective teams are in the playoff hunt or not. Each time one of these young guys is out that will most definitely reduce the number of butts that were going to be in seats.

Now it could be just “one of those years” in the NBA but if Silver is concerned about it then there must be something of a real and natural concern.

 

Adam Silver Continues to Push All of the Right Buttons

Silver
Silver
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is making the other commissioners look terrible.

Although he has only been running the National Basketball Association a few months, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has taken the league and many outside of it by storm. On the job just a few days, Silver walked to the podium in the wake of horrific rant by one of the owners he served and banned him for life.

While millions applauded the action of Silver in kicking now former Los Angeles Clippers’ owner David Stern to the curb, this has been far from his only move that has drawn positive reactions from within his league and from outside. But don’t think that all of these moves that have been heralded by players are being done just because of the goodness of his heart.

There is a very significant reason why Silver has the back of the players right now and I’ll get to that in a second.

Earlier this week, Silver announced that next year’s All-Star Break would be extended. Many players, especially those who participate in many of the events on All-Star Weekend had been vocal about getting more time off. Clearly Silver listened.

The All-Star Break for the 2014-2015 season will be eight days long. That is easily the longest break for any of the professional sports in America and will no doubt spur similar call from the hockey and baseball crowd. With this decision, Silver has again demonstrated that the players have his ear.

Goodell
Roger Goodell could learn a thing or two from Adam Silver.

Why is this such big and important news? Because compared to the other three pro sports commissioners, Silver is kicking some serious butt and in this particular case NFL Roger Goodell is taking the most blows to the head. For instance, just weeks after handing down a pathetically soft suspension on Ray Rice for domestic violence, Goodell and the NFL announced yesterday that they would be looking to hit future perpetrators with a much more severe suspension.

This is what we call being “retroactive” while Adam Silver continues to be “proactive.”

With his actions against Sterling and his lengthening of the All-Star Break, Silver has tremendous support from the players. This is something that Roger Goodell cannot say and more than likely never will. The vast majority of NFL players do not trust Goodell. They do not see him as a leader and perhaps the most damaging thing is that they don’t respect him. They see him as another rich bureaucrat running things in the the best interest of money rather than the best interest of them.

This isn’t about Goodell though. This is about Adam Silver and this about what I mentioned earlier. There is a method to the good madness to which he is guiding. See, at some point in the future, the NBA Players Association and the NBA will enter into contract negotiations once again.

In almost every case, the players in any given professional sports league usually scream about the lack of respect and lack of money that is shared with them based on their performances. That isn’t going to be possible in the NBA now is it?

How will the players say that the Commissioner of the NBA doesn’t respect them when all he has done to this point is have their back? Silver would probably tell us all that these decisions in recent months have nothing to do with future contract negotiations and maybe he’d be telling the truth.

He didn’t become Commissioner of the NBA however by happenstance. Silver is a smart, well-schooled businessman and the players will find that out eventually.

Weekend Ramblings Include More NFL Suspensions and How Dumb the NBA Looks Right Now

Goodell
Goodell
Roger Goodell laid down some suspensions yesterday and there will be more coming.

Yesterday the news coming out of the National Football League was anything but positive and if it’s any indication of things to come, Ray Rice should be very concerned.

It was announced on Friday that Arizona Cardinals’ linebacker Daryl Washington was suspended for the entire 2014 season. Washington was suspended under the league’s substance abuse policy. This was his third violation and also includes a domestic violence charge as well. That offense of the league’s personal conduct policy appears to be part of this year-long suspension.

Also on Friday, New York Giants’ safety Will Hill was suspended for the first six games of the 2014 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Since 2012, Hill has failed three drug tests and missed the first four games each of the last two years.

What these two suspensions will do is create speculation about just how long Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice may be suspended. Rice recently gave ┬áless than stellar six-minute press conference speaking for the first time about knocking his wife (then fiance) out in an elevator. The one advantage Rice has is that this was a first-time event and he has been a positive force in the community.

The disadvantage is that it appears more and more NFL players are slipping up and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s policies just aren’t working. When things such as these aren’t working, one of the few options is to get tougher and especially on first-time offenders. I have to think that deep within the walls of the NFL Offices, Goodell and his disciplinary minions are preparing to go nuclear.

The danger for them is the pending discipline that Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay is awaiting. The players are keeping a very close eye on this to see how Goodell handles his situation compared to that of their own.

All I can tell you is stay tuned because I think both Ray Rice and Jim Irsay have more coming than they originally might have thought.

Sterling
Sterling may have lost his team but he has a lot more money now too.

The NBA May Have Screwed Up

Six weeks ago, Donald Sterling caught the ire of nearly all Americans with his ignorant and insensitive comments about African-Americans. Since that time, his Los Angeles Clippers were taken from him and his team was bounced in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. Over the last 48 hours, it has become clear that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will become the new owner of the team.

His $2 billion bid was far and away the leading bid and I’ll address more about that in a second. Shelly Sterling is the one who has been working behind the scenes to get a deal done before NBA owners vote to force Donald Sterling to sell. Because earlier this week Mr. Sterling was deemed mentally incompetent, Mrs. Sterling was legally allowed to proceed with the sale.

It was reported late yesterday that Sterling may have Alzheimer’s.

Let’s remember that Sterling purchased the Clippers for $12.5 million 33 years ago. While he will be forced to pay capital gains taxes in the hundreds of millions, he will still come out with significantly more money now then had he chose to sell the team had this never happened.

While NBA Commissioner Adam Silver did the right thing by banning Sterling, hindsight shows us that he may have jumped the gun in forcing the sale. While I’m sure Sterling would have preferred to keep his team, he ends up getting much, much wealthier in the entire process while the NBA looks foolish for making a racist owner richer and almost sympathetic in the process.

 

Could the Sterling Ban Blow Up in Adam Silver’s Face?

Silver and Sterling
Silver and Sterling
Adam Silver has spoken on Donald Silver but will this precedent cause future issues?

I’ve looked at this entire situation involving Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling from as many different angles as I could. What is quite clear is that Sterling is just not a good person. His actions for decades have reeked of ignorance and intolerance and sadly, it took something like this for the National Basketball Association to act.

While I believe that Commissioner Adam Silver has done the right thing in banning Sterling for life and forcing him to sell the franchise, I have great concerns for the future.

In his press conference, Silver stated that Sterling was being banned for what was on the tape recording. To me, that’s a mistake. Silver should have cited other instances in his Sterling’s life as well as the tape recording. The reason I say this is because what is going to happen when something similar to this happens?

Don’t think that it will? Think again…

Because Commissioner Silver has set this as the precedent for any sort of racist language and behavior, what will happen if it occurs again or in a different manner?

Kroenke
What happens if Denver owner Stan Kroenke disparages a social or ethnic group. Will he be banned?

Let’s say Denver Nuggets’ owner Stan Kroenke makes disparaging remarks about European players. Will the same punishment be bestowed upon him? What if Les Alexander who owns the Houston Rockets says he doesn’t want Hispanics at his games? Does he get banned for life?

The Pandora’s Box is now open and there’s an even bigger issue that could arise as well. The players in the NBA who have been so supportive of Silver may in fact be second thinking this if they say something wrong.

What if a black player makes inappropriate comments about a white player? It’s happened before. Go back to the 1980’s when the Detroit Pistons were trying to dethrone the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference.

After a game in which Larry Bird had rallied the Celtics to a victory in the playoffs, Dennis Rodman was asked about Bird. He said “If Bird were white he’d be just another player.” The comment was fairly soft but when the journalists asked Isiah Thomas if he agreed and he ┬árepeated exactly what Rodman had said controversy ensued.

How will Silver justify a minimal suspension for inappropriate behavior by another owner or a player? The precedent is there and he will be forced to stick to it.

Again, I’m not defending Donald Sterling in any way, shape or form. I just believe that what the NBA has now created is going to be a very difficult set of guidelines with which to follow. Silver cannot show bias towards players, owners, general managers or officials. What will he do when something similar happens again?

Within hours of the statement by Silver, journalists were already taking the National Football League and Roger Goodell to task. The issue relates to the NFL because of what has gone on recently with the Washington Redskins.

While I personally believe the issue should ultimately be decided by Daniel Snyder himself, it is a similar issue. There is mounting pressure from Native American groups and political ‘posses’ to get Snyder to change the name for its’ insensitivity to Native Americans.

The difference is that Snyder, nor anyone else in the organization has made remarks disparaging Native Americans as Sterling did towards African-Americans. Therefore there is a difference.

If we get back to the NBA, Silver may face pressure from a different social demographic. Orlando Magic owner Richard DeVos has been openly vocal against gay rights. With at least one openly gay player in the NBA, will there be pressure to force DeVos to sell his team?

No, not unless he says something stupid at least.

 

With Sterling Gone for Good, Attention Can Turn Back to the Court

Silver
Silver
New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver nailed his first crucial decision when he gave Donald Sterling a lifetime ban.

New National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver wasted no time in putting his stamp on the league. Faced with a growing chorus of players, fans, politicians and common citizens, Silver banned Los Angeles Clippers’ Owner Donald Sterling for life.

Sterling was also fined $2.5 million which in the grand scheme of things is small potatoes considering his worth is nearly $2 billion. It’s widely believed that Sterling will be forced to sell the team but based on his past, he won’t go quietly into the night. I expect a long, drawn-out process in the years to come unless he just decides it isn’t worth it.

Some are speculating that the franchise could fetch as much as $1 billion in a sale.

While I applaud Silver’s forceful action, it isn’t a day to celebrate. Yes, the NBA is ultimately better without Donald Sterling in it, but the damage has been done. Sports were often thought to be safe harbor from this kind of bigotry despite random cases in the past. This situation illustrates that we remain far from where we need to be.

Williams needs an improved performance to get the Nets' a game five win.Brooklyn (+3.5) at Toronto, Series Tied 2-2 – I have to give the Toronto Raptors some credit. I really thought after the game three loss that they were in trouble and would fold under the playoff pressure. The young Toronto team finished off the Nets with a 12-4 to end the game to even the series and take it back home for tonight’s game.

For the Nets to grab game five Deron Williams has to be better than four of twelve shooting. He scored just 10 points in game four and was 0-5 from three-point land. My gut feeling is that he plays significantly better tonight.

While both squads shot almost an identical 41% from the field, the difference ultimately was from the charity stripe. Toronto went 19 of 23 while the Nets were just 19 of 29. I think this is where the veteran leadership in Brooklyn kicks in; take the Nets and the 3.5 points.

Dallas (+6) at San Antonio, Series Tied 2-2 – I just don’t have a feel or this series. Just when I think the Spurs are ready to dominate and move on, the Mavericks come firing back. Even after a 20-point lead in game three, the Spurs still let it slip away but were able to pull out the victory.

Both teams were almost identical in the three-point shooting department in game three as they each hit on just 29% of their long-range shots. Ultimately the difference was better field goal and free throw shooting by San Antonio. If I’m Gregg Popovich, I’m concerned about Tony Parker. Again he struggled from the field and didn’t even attempt a three-point shot.

Parker’s poor shooting was offset by a 46-28 advantage in the paint and that’s something the Spurs must repeat. I like San Antonio to win, but I really like the Mavs getting the six points.

Portland (+5.5) at Houston, Blazers Lead 3-1 – If Rockets’ coach Kevin McHale was fighting for his job when the series was tied 1-1, then what must he be fighting for now? Granted the Rockets have dropped two overtime games, they’ve still lost three games total and one more ends a season that many had figured to be going much longer.

Houston had excellent balance in their scoring and dominated the paint to the tune of 68-30. While Portland didn’t exactly have the balance, they did have LaMarcus Aldridge who has dominated the series.

The Rockets were very good at home this year and they have to ride the crowd to a victory tonight but I really like Blazers getting the 5.5 points.

Some Final Thoughts on David Stern

Stern
Stern
While he has his detractors, retired NBA Commissioner David Stern oversaw an amazing time in league history.

I was once told that the sun doesn’t shine on the same dog’s rear-end everyday because that’s just not how things worked. Sometimes you were fortunate and sometimes you weren’t. For newly retired National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern, the was a very common sight during his tenure.

From 1984 through 2014, Stern presided over what can only be called “The Golden Age” of professional basketball.

Although many believe, and rightfully so, that professional basketball was starting a dramatic rise in popularity when Stern took over; it has been under his watchful eye that the game has exploded. When Stern took the reigns from former Commissioner Larry O’Brien, both Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were already in the league and each had a title to his credit.

Those two Hall of Famers were not only rising stars but they also happened to play for two of the most historic and celebrated franchises in NBA history (Los Angeles and Boston). Along with those two was the Philadelphia 76ers led by Dr. J. The three teams were dominant throughout the 1980’s while a young man named Michael Jordan was becoming the greatest player of all time in Chicago.

Stern presided over the 1980’s like a proud father watching his children grow into one fantastic thing after another. By the time the 1990’s rolled around Jordan was the most recognizable athlete on the planet and the NBA as a whole was garnering respect throughout the nation and the world.

There was never a better time to be running a sports league and Stern knew it. He took a very hands off approach and just let the players and teams do all the work. Unlike what we’ve seen in the NFL recently under Roger Goodell, Stern did very little to alter the way the game is played. He oversaw the introduction of a player dress code and the expansion of seven different NBA franchises.

Like any leader who serves that long, there were some down times and moments that still generate discussion today.

 

Ewing
Patrick Ewing was the prize in the 1985 NBA Draft Lottery.

There are many both in and around the league that believe the 1985 NBA Draft Lottery was rigged to favor the New York Knicks. All-American Center Patrick Ewing was the overwhelming top pick that year and it was thought that any team getting him was destined for the playoffs and NBA Championships. The conspiracy centers around one of seven envelopes that was put into a hopper.

One of the seven clearly had a bend in the corner and that was the one he drew. It was thought this was rigged so that New York would be better and would increase TV ratings dramatically.

Still to this day there is rampant speculation that Michael Jordan’s brief retirement, in which he tried to play professional baseball, was actually a cover-up. Jordan was extremely well-known for his gambling prowess and there is a ton of belief that he was in serious trouble so Stern orchestrated a way for him to get out of the game awhile.

Stern also had to deal with on court brawls and perhaps the ugliest incident in pro sports when Ron Artest (known as Metta World Peace now) went into the stands at the palace of Auburn Hills creating a melee in which players and fans were brawling in the seats and on the court.

All things considered, Stern has been a very good commissioner. He has also seen the game become international both with the introduction of hundreds of foreign players but also in getting teams to play games abroad as well.

His Successor Adam Silver will be lucky to find the same success that he had during his tenure running the league.