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July 10, 2011 11:23 PM   Subscribe

Bill Simmons - If I Ruled the (NBA) World

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posted by beisny (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I read this, and I liked it, but isn't this a touch thin? Some context (lockout, how it's going, perhaps with the current stance from both camps (hard cap set at $45 million, contracts capped at 4 years, no MLE, no Bird-rights -- owners vs. whatever the players are demanding), and maybe some other opinions from other blogs?

Sports posts usually face a hard enough barrier to acceptance here, if it's worth talking about (and I think it's a decently well written piece, with some interesting ideas, even if the play-in tournament for the 8th will never happen), it's best to make proof it against the "why should I care/what's sports doing on the blue" contingent.


I don't normally do this, if this is threadshitting, please delete my comment.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:45 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


95% of Simmons' output from the last decade could be titled "If I Ruled the NBA World".
posted by auto-correct at 11:48 PM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, I agree that single-link Grantland is a little thin, especially for people who don't follow the NBA. Would hate for someone to try to read that piece without know what "Bird rights" are.
posted by auto-correct at 11:54 PM on July 10, 2011


Fair enough, maybe my previous post will help (also grantland).

Otherwise, please delete this post if this is the prevalent reaction.
posted by beisny at 12:01 AM on July 11, 2011


Simmons: Let's take a little responsibility, as well — after all, we just had one of the best seasons in league history and lost money.

Simmons' argument is shredded the second he claims that this was one of the greatest seasons in league history. I don't doubt that the race between the Celtics and the Heat was compelling for Simmons, but the second he expects that to be compelling for fans of NBA teams across the country, is the second his argument is lost. There were literally 2 +/- 1 seconds after "the Announcement" during primetime on the network that cuts Simmons' check that the "Heat Index" became shoved down the throat of every casual fan.

I'm sorry, Bill, but fans of teams outside of the typical major markets have grown extremely tired of watching their best players slip through their fingers: Garnett to Boston, Kobe refusing to play in Charlotte, Lebron leaving Cleveland, O'Neal leaving Orlando, Anthony demanding a trade from Denver and landing in New York. The race between the Celtics and the Heat becomes infinitely less compelling when the teams are loaded with pilfered talent and given 24/7 media attention.

Compound this with incidents that destroy small market interest like Donaghy reffing Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals, Diaw and Stoudamire being suspended for getting out of their seats after Nash took a vicious elbow from Horry in the 2007 playoffs, and people lose not only interest, but confidence in a professional league delivering a legitimate champion.

I don't see the NBA coming back anytime soon, but then again, I was just a casual small market fan, who the NBA certainly doesn't need.
posted by clearly at 12:25 AM on July 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was just a casual small market fan, who the NBA certainly doesn't need.

Which seems to be one of his points, rather convincingly made. I say this as a lifelong fan from Calgary who hates the Raptors (who names their franchise after a popular movie of the time? A few years earlier they would've been the Toronto Batmen.). Without a way to turn the NBA into the NFL, that's going to continue to be the case.
posted by converge at 12:38 AM on July 11, 2011


clearly, I actually agree with Simmons about this season being fantastic. Yes, there was the Heat Index thing, which was obnoxious, but aside from that, the playoffs were pretty much perfect. Yes, I'd have preferred the Bulls beat the Heat, but Memphis/S.A. was pretty epic, as was Roy pointing out that he's not dead yet, or the Nuggets having a hell of a lot better time in the playoffs than the Knicks. Long term, actually, the Nuggets are probably going to be better off.

As for some of your examples, Kobe and Charlotte (poor scouting, just like Vancouver picking Steve Francis), and O'Neal (as a free agent, excercising his rights under the CBA) are pretty much in the 'let it go' category. Garnett to Boston? Boston gave up a good amount to get him, and don't forget that Minnesota had essentially squandered KG's best years by trying to give Joe Smith (really? Joe Smith?) a mammoth deal (that he'd done nothing to show he was worth it) under the table. Had the Wolves had any of the what, four or five first round picks they were stripped of, who's to say Garnett wouldn't have had help, or that they wouldn't have gotten out of the first round more than once?

Chris Paul. Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Russel Westbrook, Blake Griffen, John Wall, (guh) Rajon Rondo, Joakim Noah, Dwight Howard, Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry, Kevin Love, Kevin Durant, Brandon Jennings. The casual fan can turn on nearly any game on any night (if, you know, they end the lockout) and catch some amazing young players. As for the poaching and grouping of stars, it's almost certain that the new CBA will make that more difficult, through either a stricter, lower cap, or through exceptions for teams who draft a player.

Of course, the second a game gets cancelled, well, things change.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:51 AM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


At least he's no longer taking the owner's word that they lost 380 million last year.
posted by graventy at 1:35 AM on July 11, 2011


The part that always kills me about these "analysis" pieces is that they miss the most obvious solution. Have the players and the community own the league and the teams. They are the talent and the fans. They are what people come to see and who comes to see.

If communities owned their own teams they would be anchored in the community and have as much support as the community was willing to give them. If players owned the team they could take home both their salaries and a share of the profits.

Seriously...owners do next to nothing in the current scenario. They don't even put up capital anymore since all they do is leverage a little bit of cash and then squeeze the fans and city until they decide to leave.
posted by srboisvert at 1:59 AM on July 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


"They are the talent and the fans. They are what people come to see and who comes to see."

COMMUNIST!

Seriously, though, it is a problem in the culture (although it's not regarded as one) that profits are so fetishized. Let's say the league is breaking even: everyone who does anything is drawing a salary (hell, most owners are probably paying themselves some kind of salary), people watch the games on TV and enjoy them, players, coaches, refs, front office staff, all have jobs and enjoy them. So what's wrong? It's not even like teams reinvest their profits; they always strong arm cities into building their arenas. Basically everything is done on single-year revenues.

I understand that it's basically a futile position, but it is a weird quirk of our society (one that I don't think aliens would understand) that no endeavor is deemed worthwhile unless some extremely small group of people, who have little to do with the actual project, are getting tons of money out of it. Don't even get me started how it's ALSO not useful unless the amount of money they're getting is continuously growing larger.
posted by mellow seas at 2:46 AM on July 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Chris Paul. Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Russel Westbrook, Blake Griffen, John Wall, (guh) Rajon Rondo, Joakim Noah, Dwight Howard, Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry, Kevin Love, Kevin Durant, Brandon Jennings.

Chris Paul is playing for the New Orleans Hornets, a team that has him signed through 2012, and also a team owned by the NBA and whose city/state "came together and raised enough money to buy enough tickets to block an escape clause that would have allowed the team to walk away from its lease at New Orleans Arena because of low attendance."

Deron Williams ran future NBA Hall of Fame coach out of his job before being petulant enough that the Jazz sent him to New Jersey to play for a Russian Billionaire, not to mention the fact that he has a contract in place to play in Turkey until the NBA starts signing his checks again.

Russel Westbrook and Kevin Durant (and Jeff Green) were drafted and signed by the Seattle Supersonics, in what looked to be a fantastic nucleus for a small market rebuilding team. The Supersonics were then promptly relocated to Oklahoma the season after Durant took the Rookie of the Year award.

Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah were fortunate enough to become anchors on a team in a major market. If you offered both for Kevin Durant/Jeff Green, the Seattle GM would have laughed you out of the room.

Ricky Rubio is averaging 5 points a game in Europe and will likely never see starting minutes in the NBA.

Blake Griffin jumped over the hood of a KIA. Yay. He plays for Donald Sterling, who will if revenue sharing comes around, be happy to continue to sit back and field a failing team while raking in millions.

Brandon Jennings is the new Michael Redd. Congratulations Brandon, you are the new Michael Redd. Maybe throw a tantrum and you can sit behind Ginobili in San Antonio.

Dwight Howard: See O'Neal above.

the playoffs were pretty much perfect.

Perfect in the sense that it was Dallas (the 3rd? largest market in the country) playing against the most over-hyped team in NBA history for the championship? Nah.



This summer we have seen probably the worst NBA draft in the last 20 years, Yao Ming and Shaquille O'Neal retire, more coverage of a losing Heat team than the NBA Champion Mavericks with Dirk and Kidd, the owners lock out the players, next season in jeopardy, and honestly I am perfectly content to just watch it all burn.
posted by clearly at 3:06 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


First joke about the WNBA or "chicks, amirite?" from out of nowhere in 5, 4, 3...
posted by pxe2000 at 3:28 AM on July 11, 2011


I think you just made that joke, pxe2000.
posted by Mister_A at 4:20 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


clearly: fans of teams outside of the typical major markets have grown extremely tired of watching their best players slip through their fingers

Yes, this. And when his solution involves (a) a handful of superstars making even bigger megabucks, and (b) a handful of teams spending megabucks to lock in those superstars, the result will be (c) nobody outside LA giving a shit about the NBA.
posted by robcorr at 4:27 AM on July 11, 2011


robcorr: in fairness, it might also be popular in Miami and NYC.
posted by jaduncan at 4:51 AM on July 11, 2011


There was some really good basketball in the playoffs though. Great contrasts of styles and strategies, exciting young players (Durant, Rose), grizzled veterans (entire Celtics squad, Dirk). So aesthetically, from a basketball standpoint, this was the most fun playoffs in a long time. The absence of the Lakers from later rounds was a bonus IMO.
posted by Mister_A at 5:18 AM on July 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


clearly, you obviously have a lot of reasons to hate the NBA, but honestly, I don't. Does it suck that Seattle lost its team? Yes, and it's become clear that was the goal from the moment Bennet purchased the team.

Your reason for disliking Paul seems to have absolutely nothing to do with him, and a lot more to do with reasons the lockout is happening. Paul is a joy to watch, and I'm thrilled that it was Paul that made us see that Bryant was no longer the best player in the series he was in (and Nowitzki, too, for that matter). Williams is a bit more problematic, yeah, the shit with Sloan was wrong, but for me, with the hate you seem to have, that would just give me more reason to dislike him. As for Rubio, he's currently in the States and will be playing for Minneapolis whenever the season starts. If I had to bet, I'd say he'll end up playing for about six years or so before heading back to Spain, and he'll probably have at least one spot on an All-Star roster (not starting, though) before he's done.

Howard? That's what happens when you hire a lousy GM. They overpaid for Lewis to start the whole disaster, then let Turkoglu walk, then threw in the kitchen sink to get him back, when it was clear when he was in Toronto that he's passed his sell by date. At least Lewis was still productive-ish, but then they traded him for the shell of Gilbert Arenas (whose biggest contribution this offseason has been pissing away what remained of his glory days of swag). Why should Howard stay? He's the center of a team that's going absolutely nowhere. Every move they've made in the last three years has hurt the team, and now they've lost ground to other Eastern Conference teams.

But really, if all you can say about a talent like Griffin is that he jumped over a Kia, I'm not going to be swaying you. You're right, the NBA sucks. It's awful. Enjoy your baseball. I'm going to (again, if the lockout ever ends) enjoy a golden period of talent in the sport I love.

And Green? Really? Mayhap you and Danny Ainge see something that the rest of the league has missed, but Green?
posted by Ghidorah at 5:56 AM on July 11, 2011


If the NBA ruled the world, Michael Jordan would be Jesus and Wilt Chamberlain would be Zeus.
posted by pracowity at 5:58 AM on July 11, 2011


I like some of his ideas in this column, but basing salaries on All-Star appearances? You do know that fans vote for the All-Stars, right, Bill? I mean, Yao Ming was voted onto the team last year.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:00 AM on July 11, 2011


He did mention in the piece that the All-Star system would have to be reworked for that component of the plan to function.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:03 AM on July 11, 2011


robcorr: in fairness, it might also be popular in Miami and NYC.

Or Chicago, or Oklahoma City, or Portland, or Utah, or Boston, or Indiana, or maybe San Antonio, which despite being one of the smallest market was just touted as having the most ardent fan base based on the percentage of residents who've either watched, listened to, or attended a game (something like 60% of S.A. residents). Strangely enough, if you hire competent GMs, you get a decent team that fans still come to see.

But not Miami. Seriously, worse than L.A. fans. That shit with throwing white towels at the end of games? Are they so ignorant of sports that they have no idea of the connotation of throwing a white towel towards the field of play? Good lord.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:14 AM on July 11, 2011


Also, I agree that single-link Grantland is a little thin, especially for people who don't follow the NBA. Would hate for someone to try to read that piece without know what "Bird rights" are.

Oh, don't worry, it's fine. I used to watch Korean TV (I don't speak a word of Korean), because all the symbols and conventions were completely different from what I was used to. I was interesting to try to figure out the meaning and the different roles people played, based solely on the tone of what was said.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:40 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have the players and the community own the league and the teams.

They already do that in the rest of the world so that we don't have to do it in 'Murka.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:18 AM on July 11, 2011


clearly: "Dallas (the 3rd? largest market in the country)"

Dallas is the 5th largest media market in the US.
posted by I am the Walrus at 7:24 AM on July 11, 2011


They already do that in the rest of the world so that we don't have to do it in 'Murka.


huh? no they don't. Of the top football teams in Europe the only one owned like that is Barca. And European leagues are actually much much less socialistic than American leagues are. Actually the NFL is probably the most redistributionist major sports league in the world.
posted by JPD at 7:24 AM on July 11, 2011


I like some of his ideas in this column, but basing salaries on All-Star appearances? You do know that fans vote for the All-Stars, right, Bill? I mean, Yao Ming was voted onto the team last year.

Players should be paid based on their popularity. They are there to entertain the fans after all. And the fans are the one who, in the end, pay the bills.
posted by eas98 at 9:39 AM on July 11, 2011


Does it suck that Seattle lost its team? Yes, and it's become clear that was the goal from the moment Bennet purchased the team.

The Sonics were stolen, but I think the real loss here is the NBA's. A team with reasonable support (but crappy ownership) was moved from the 14th largest TV market to the 40th. And this has been an ongoing trend -- NBA teams pulled from larger markets into smaller ones. Vancouver to Memphis. Charlotte to New Orleans.

There are positives to this, of course. The Trailblazers owned Portland until the Timbers finally joined the MLS. San Antonio, similarly, has an iron grip on that market (and arguably the Austin TV market too). Oklahoma City's only competition is college football.

But what that's creating is a league where there will be teams in the top 10 markets, almost nothing between 11-30, and then a whole bunch of small markets. And that means that Tulsa and Oklahoma City might be glued to the Finals, but Seattle/Tacoma certainly won't be. And neither will Tampa/St. Pete, or St. Louis....

If the only purpose of the Blazers, Spurs, and Thunder is to provide opponents for the Lakers, Celtics, and Heat, then maybe that's OK. But it does mean that the NBA is facing the same problem the NHL did -- a lot of small-market teams not generating enough revenue to pay salaries.
posted by dw at 11:04 AM on July 11, 2011


The fundamental point in the article imo is that bozo mid-level players cant continue to cash in 6/$50m if the league is going to be profitable or even sustainable.
posted by Hurst at 11:04 AM on July 11, 2011


The difference between Simmons and Peter King is that Peter King will spend 6,000 words giving no useful information of any kind. Whereas Simmons will spend 6,000 words giving you some useful information and then spend another 6,000 comparing it to something retarded like fucking MI:4, and then another 6,000 words expressing wonderment and marvel over his own conclusions. Did you follow that? Am I crazy or did that not make TOTAL SENSE?! HOW IS THIS NOT HAPPENING AS WE SPEAK? IT’S LIKE THE WORLD HATES GENIUSES.

Drew Magary "critics" this article on Kissing Suzy Kolber.
posted by auto-correct at 12:13 PM on July 11, 2011


Wait, this is seriously an article based on a scene from Dave? Good God.

That's leaving aside Simmons's irritating obsession with the immorality of being a player he finds overpaid and his hook-line-and-sinker acceptance that the NBA is losing money even when people who have studied the numbers and, unlike him, know what the word "amortization" means explain that there are good reasons to be skeptical that the NBA is losing any money at all.
posted by Copronymus at 12:44 PM on July 11, 2011


Bill Simmons got very popular as a first-person sports fan columnist, writing without access, credentials, or anything to lose.

He now has all three of these things, and his perspective has gone from interesting and progressive to self-indulgent, spoiled, and peevish.

On the other hand, he and his corporate masters at ESPN probably don't care that I'm now reading his columns just to make fun of him with my friends, because joke's on me: I'm still reading them.
posted by norm at 1:14 PM on July 11, 2011


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