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View Full Version : Bill Simmons on the Sacramento situation and the Maloofs



GodsSon
04-26-2011, 05:08 PM
We know this much: It's more challenging than ever for a small-market NBA team to succeed. You can pull it off, but you need to be smart and lucky. Oklahoma City created the best blueprint: Catch a lottery break (Durant), nail a few draft picks (Westbrook and Ibaka), make a smart trade (Perkins), avoid overpaying veterans, hoard your cap space, target character guys and stockpile as many extra picks as you can. The Kings haven't been nearly as smart or lucky. Suddenly, it's the arena's fault. You know, because the arena told them to trade Kevin Martin for half his value, or spend one-fourth of their payroll on Beno Udrih and Francisco Garcia.

But let's pretend the Maloofs aren't broke for a second. Or overleveraged. Or whatever you want to call it when people have more debt than cash flow and can't solve that issue without selling one or two of their best assets, but they're too stubborn to sell those assets. Sacramento's current struggles highlight four of the league's biggest problems right now.

Problem No. 1: Once you get approved to purchase an NBA franchise, for whatever reason, David Stern seemingly yields all control over your behavior unless you criticize his officials. That makes him really angry. Anything else? Knock yourself out. If you want to heckle your own players or bring your friends into your team's locker room specifically so they can ogle your half-naked players -- two things Donald Sterling did this past season -- Stern can't do anything. If your general manager gets involved in a massively embarrassing, multimillion-dollar sexual harassment suit (James Dolan, anyone?), Stern can't do anything. If you're going broke and stripping your operating costs to the bare minimum to survive -- screwing your fans over in the process -- Stern can't do anything. Buying into the NBA is like buying a house: Once you move in, feel free to disgrace the neighborhood however you want.

Problem No. 2: It's difficult to generate revenue without a "state of the art" arena, only taxpayers just recently realized the hypocrisy of billionaires roping locals into paying for a new building, so it's a much more difficult feat to pull off now. (Although it was a fun era while it lasted. I know I'm worth 4 billion on paper, but what if you guys paid for the arena? You can put a few restaurants and bars around it, you'll totally break even! Just trust me!) What happens when you're stuck in a washed-up arena with a perennial lottery team? You're screwed.

Problem No. 3: It's really difficult to contend unless (A) you strike oil in the lottery, or (B) persuade Chris Wallace or Kevin McHale to trade you his best player. New Orleans landed Chris Paul only because Atlanta screwed up and took Marvin Williams, who's being used as the guy who holds back Zaza Pachulia in all of Zaza's pseudo-altercations. Oklahoma City needed pingpong help to land the second pick of the 2007 draft and needed Portland to pass on Durant. Milwaukee? It landed the No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 draft (Andrew Bogut) one year after Dwight Howard and two years after LeBron James. Bad luck. You get only a couple of home run chances per decade as a small-market team. The odds are against you.

Problem No. 4: It's really, really difficult to persuade a franchise player, or even a perennial All-Star, to remain in a small market unless you're winning 60-plus games every year. NBA players like sunshine, big cities and tax-free states. If a franchise can't offer one of the three carrots, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy -- like the girl who joins "The Real World" and claims she's going to keep a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend of six years. You know she will hook up with a roommate; you know the boyfriend will come visit and play pool with that roommate; and you know she will dump him at the end of the weekend. It's just the way the show works. Same for LeBron leaving Cleveland. The current free-agency system doesn't give smaller markets any advantage to help them keep their best players. Superstars such as Chris Paul ultimately will play wherever they want. Lesser stars such as Danny Granger will stick around, but only if you overpay them and destroy your cap. You're screwed either way.


Within the league, everyone loves the brothers -- owners, players, even David Stern, who calls them "the boys" even though they're older than any active player. That's why Stern allowed their ill-fated Anaheim "move" to limp along like it did, without ever asking the pertinent question, "Wait a second, aren't you guys just doing this because you're broke?" If Donald Sterling had tried it? The league would have thrown up a bigger roadblock than the one Harvey Keitel assembled for Thelma and Louise. Again, everyone likes the Maloofs. Good guys. That's what you always hear when their names come up.

Well, you know who else are good guys? The Sacramento fans. They supported that crummy franchise for 25 years, getting rewarded only with the short-lived C-Webb Era: when the Kings suddenly evolved into the league's most entertaining team, when they came within an officiating monstrosity and a crunch-time choke of making the 2002 Finals, when everything quickly fell apart because they gave Webber a nine-figure extension even though his knees were made of fusilli. What other choice did they have? How many Chris Webbers fall into the lap of a small-market team? Lose him and you're definitely screwed. Pay him and you're screwed once he gets injured. They couldn't win. It's the Curse of the Small-Market NBA Team: once you stop being smart and lucky, everything falls apart.

Webber's demise triggered a chain of events that eventually turned Sacramento into the NBA's Pittsburgh Pirates. Only in this past season did Kings fans start seriously worrying about losing their team -- not just because their owners were overleveraged but because they had little faith in Stern, who looked the other way after Game 6's officiating fiasco in 2002, then again as the Sonics were stolen, then again these past 12 months as the Maloofs did everything short of putting their office equipment on Craigslist.

Remember, the owners pay Stern to run the league in their best interests. As part of that responsibility, he also is supposed to care about players and fans. But in what order? Recent history shows that it's the owners first, then everyone else. We saw it in Seattle, when new owners conspired to move the Sonics (and did) without any real repercussions. We saw it when New Orleans' George Shinn was going under and needed to sell; the league office decided that, rather than allow someone to steal the Hornets like a plasma TV at an everything-must-go sale, they'd protect that sticker tag, purchase the team at "market value," then sell when the economy turned or use it as contraction leverage for upcoming lockout talks. And we saw it again these past few months in Sacramento. Where was the commissioner as the Maloofs torched their relationship with locals and cut every conceivable financial corner?


In baseball, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt ran out of money to pay for stuff. There were two big reasons for this: He was going through a nasty divorce, and he never had any money in the first place. How can you buy one of the most famous baseball franchises without any money? It's a great question. But when McCourt went behind Bud Selig's back and tried to secure a $30 million personal loan from Fox (his television partner), an enraged Selig seized the team from him last week under the rarely seen edict, "You Can't Pay For Stuff Anymore."

Only Southern Californians fully understand what happened to the Dodgers during the McCourt Error. Six decades, Dodger Stadium, Vin Scully, Koufax and Drysdale, Garvey-Cey-Lopes-Russell, Fernandomania, Orel's streak, Gibson's homer, Gagne coming out of the bullpen breathing fire, Dodger Blue … the McCourts were crapping on all of it. Desecrating the brand. Maybe it took a sneaky loan and a poor Giants fan getting senselessly beaten into a coma for Selig to finally intervene, but he did. To his credit. When a commissioner keeps siding with owners over fans, he becomes nothing but a puppet with strings trickling out of his back. Selig stuck up for Dodgers fans. He did the right thing.

Sacramento fans must have felt jealous: For months and months, they had been waiting for Stern to stick up for them. Last week, he finally did. And only because the arrogance of "the boys" left him no choice. One of the biggest economic swoons in American history just happened because overleveraged multimillionaires and billionaires took too many dumb chances, borrowed too much money and cheated the system too many times … you know, exactly how the Maloofs tried to keep a franchise they could no longer afford to run. Stern finally had enough. But only when the Lakers and Clippers refused to yield their lucrative Orange County territory unless they were paid accordingly.

Suddenly, it's looking as if the Kings will stay in Sacramento for at least one more year. On Tuesday, the league meets with local sponsors that Mayor Johnson lined up who pledged $10 million in advertising money for next season. Stern & Co. want to see a check. This means one of three things: Either the league plans to purchase the Kings to protect the sticker tag and gain additional contraction leverage; it's forcing the Maloofs to stick around (but making sure they have enough cash flow to meet payroll); or this is a new and improved way to stomp on the hearts of every Kings fan.

My prediction: the league will pay full price for the Kings (or close to it), use them as lockout leverage (along with the Hornets), then work with Johnson and Sacramento on finding new ownership after the lockout. It's the right move. There's every reason to believe that Sacramento could turn into Oklahoma City or Portland in the right hands. But it needs the right hands. And those hands need to be able to write checks that pay for stuff.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/110425&sportCat=nba

Too many good passages to post on here. It's a fairly long read, but a good one that's worth it if you have the time.

GodsSon
04-26-2011, 06:45 PM
Really? No one has anything to add?

D1JM
04-26-2011, 07:11 PM
bill simmons :worthy:

The Final Boss
04-26-2011, 07:24 PM
Bill Simmons is an idiot. What more is there to say?

buch88
04-26-2011, 07:27 PM
I'll add this since no one has anything to add. The NBA is a joke now days. It's all about marketing. Ever since the marketing became so huge in the NBA, like for example, primetime media coverage or nationally televised games, the NBA has lost credibility. It's a shame, but it's true. The poor kings are in a small market so they'll never be favored by Stern or the NBA. I'm being really broad here so you don't have to criticize what I'm saying because I know there's a lot more of in-depth explaining. I'm just being broad.


PS: The only other thing I'll add this. Simmons called game 6 of 2002 an "officiating monstrosity." I'm not sure if that's good enough. It was more like, an officiating monstrosity and disgrace to human ethics while being the greatest tragedy in professional sports in the past few decades. It was an abomination. An absolutely atrocious, horrendous, despicable display of the lack of credibility the NBA has. Yeah, it was the officials, mainly Dick Bavetta and Bob Delaney. But I wouldn't say David Stern and the NBA wasn't behind it, or had some influence on the refs' mindsets going into that game. Whoever it was, the refs, Stern, or both parties, they stole a world championship from a small market kings team that deserved it that year.

MalZee24
04-26-2011, 07:31 PM
Bill Simmons is an idiot. What more is there to say?

u probably didn't even read the article. you just saw it was written by Bill Simmons, a boston guy, so u immediately put "he's in idiot."

if u actually read the article, simmons brings up a lot of good points and he's pretty much correct about the big market-small market issue in the nba. even laker fans/LA writers would agree with a lot of what simmons is saying here. u just took the lazy biased way out by not reading the post and putting he's in an idiot because your a laker fan and he's a boston writer. everyone knows the two sides hate each other, but that doesn't mean u should make yourself look like an idiot and let your bias fan pride control your dumb posts. try actually reading the article next time and then post something credible.

MalZee24
04-26-2011, 07:34 PM
I'll add this since no one has anything to add. The NBA is a joke now days. It's all about marketing. Ever since the marketing became so huge in the NBA, like for example, primetime media coverage or nationally televised games, the NBA has lost credibility. It's a shame, but it's true. The poor kings are in a small market so they'll never be favored by Stern or the NBA. I'm being really broad here so you don't have to criticize what I'm saying because I know there's a lot more of in-depth explaining. I'm just being broad.


PS: The only other thing I'll add this. Simmons called game 6 of 2002 an "officiating monstrosity." I'm not sure if that's good enough. It was more like, an officiating monstrosity and disgrace to human ethics while being the greatest tragedy in professional sports in the past few decades. It was an abomination. An absolutely atrocious, horrendous, despicable display of the lack of credibility the NBA has. Yeah, it was the officials, mainly Dick Bavetta and Bob Delaney. But I wouldn't say David Stern and the NBA wasn't behind it, or had some influence on the refs' mindsets going into that game. Whoever it was, the refs, Stern, or both parties, they stole a world championship from a small market kings team that deserved it that year.

:clap: :clap: :clap:

agree 10000000% with this post, ESPECIALLY the second paragraph

jimbobjarree
04-26-2011, 07:50 PM
very interesting point of view

evadatam5150
04-26-2011, 08:02 PM
u probably didn't even read the article. you just saw it was written by Bill Simmons, a boston guy, so u immediately put "he's in idiot."

if u actually read the article, simmons brings up a lot of good points and he's pretty much correct about the big market-small market issue in the nba. even laker fans/LA writers would agree with a lot of what simmons is saying here. u just took the lazy biased way out by not reading the post and putting he's in an idiot because your a laker fan and he's a boston writer. everyone knows the two sides hate each other, but that doesn't mean u should make yourself look like an idiot and let your bias fan pride control your dumb posts. try actually reading the article next time and then post something credible.

In all fairness Simmons is an unrelenting homer and a mediocre writer at best.. Most LA fans know better than to read most of his tripe because he shows a serious lapse of that age old writers creed of unbiased journalism.. I work around reporters all day long and can tell you that most of these guy's think he's a bit embarrassing.. That being said this (and yes I read the whole thing) was surprisingly well written and thoughtful.. I will admit that I normally wouldn't read anything by Simmons for obvious reasons but I was curious and felt I would give it a go.. Glad I did..

Would I read most of his stuff though..?? Honestly no, he's made his stance quite clear, unbiased journalism be damned.. It's refreshing to see that he took a break from the norm for a change..

hotpotato1092
04-26-2011, 08:19 PM
Simmons always has a great take on things like this. Personally, I don't think the Sacramento situation is as bad as Seattle's a few years ago, but it's still pretty bad. Honestly I find it funny that there are a few clear teams that need to be moved (we're talking to you Charlotte), yet they NEVER get brought up and it's always teams that have support that are hijacked. Btw, Memphis used to be on that short list of teams that had to be moved, but their fan base turned me around during games 3 and 4, so they're off the list, for now.

ttam68
04-26-2011, 08:40 PM
In all fairness Simmons is an unrelenting homer and a mediocre writer at best.. Most LA fans know better than to read most of his tripe because he shows a serious lapse of that age old writers creed of unbiased journalism.. I work around reporters all day long and can tell you that most of these guy's think he's a bit embarrassing.. That being said this (and yes I read the whole thing) was surprisingly well written and thoughtful.. I will admit that I normally wouldn't read anything by Simmons for obvious reasons but I was curious and felt I would give it a go.. Glad I did..

Would I read most of his stuff though..?? Honestly no, he's made his stance quite clear, unbiased journalism be damned.. It's refreshing to see that he took a break from the norm for a change..

He's not a reporter. There's no expectation of unbiased journalism. He's a columnist; he's paid to give his opinion on things. He's one of the most entertaining writers out there, right or wrong.