Ratto: Could Barkley and Webber buy the Kings?


Ratto: Could Barkley and Webber buy the Kings?

April 13, 2011RATTO ARCHIVE
Ray Ratto
The idea of Charles Barkley and Chris Webber buying the Sacramento Kings is so delicious, so exciting and so utterly preposterous that it should happen, at least in one parallel universe. A universe, we can all agree, that we should be able to at least visit, since it wont be happening in the one we currently inhabit.It seems that the fellows were giving the Maloof brothers, Chip and Dale, a right hiding for turning the Kings into a slick unlit hairpin turn in the NBA autobahn on Inside The NBA last night, and in doing so, they announced that they would buy the Kings.
This promptly induced two thoughts:1. With whose money will they be performing this act of mercy?And 2. Do those two erudite and charming gentlemen realize that theres the sale price, and then theres the debt load, and then theres the arena money, and then theres the investors to jolly up, and that 300 million turns into 800 awfully fast?NEWS: Kings finale feels like farewell for Sacramento
And then a third question leaped up: Do they understand that TNT will put contracts out on their lives for blowing up the best show on television? There are only so many Bones re-runs you can show before people start noticing.In short, if they can do this, great. But they cant do this. You know it. I know it. Sacramento knows it. Hell, even they know it. I mean, Ernie Johnsons face went all Celtic green when he heard them say it, because he knew they were already covetously eyeing his portfolio:Cmon, Ernie, you know you want to. You can have your section: Ernies Straight Men. Itll be fun. Besides, you dont want to work with backup versions of us, do you? Oh, and do you have Kenny Smiths Twitter account?Give them credit, though, for making the Maloof boys feel uncomfortable. The Maloofs were heroes in Sacramento when they bought the team from Gregg Luginbill and equally unmoneyed partners, and they stayed heroes until their other businesses tanked, and they couldnt get a new downtown arena, and the Kings got swindled in that playoff game with the Lakers, and like that there.RELATED: Is there enough room for 3 NBA teams in L.A?
Then they became public enemies. And if Barkley and Webber become the new faces of the franchise, they will really be yesterdays news.But the backhand that is relocating their jaws right now is the same backhand that will land on Barkley and Webber when they discover what it will take to revivify the Monarchy (as opposed to the Monarchs, which is another story entirely). Presumably the sale price will be north of the current Forbes valuation of 293M. But for arguments sake, lets say they make it work at 300M for purposes of math. They will now have a bad team, in an aging arena, on the outskirts of Bend, Oregon, in a state that is so much more broke than the Maloofs that they make the Maloofs look like Monte Carlo.And the City of Sacramento, which already has Kevin Johnson as mayor, does not have Kevin Johnsons money to play with, either. In short, its a broke team in a broke city in a broke state, and only enormous amounts of money, energy, spirit and money will change its fortunes.Put it this way. If the team costs 300M, the arena is going to run another 500M after all, you have to include the spiraling cost of graft. And in case you havent noticed, America is running out of billionaires with money bursting from their couches.Unless, of course, Larry Ellison, who was bearded out of the Warrior sale by Chris Cohans desperate desire never to sell to him, decides that he could do this team instead. Hes got money on money.He also has enough ego that he could do this without Barkley and Webber, and even if he wanted them for the sake of camaraderie, he doesnt want them around to make actual decisions. And one did not get the feeling last night that Chas. and C-Webb wanted to buy the Kings to be silent partners.Thus, the story that the Maloofs may not have the owner votes to leave Sactown, while gratifying, doesnt actually bell the cow, which is, Who wants a ball team?Charles Barkley and Chris Webber do. But their wanting it is about as useful as saying I want it. I mean, it would be fun and all, but Im a little short right now. Its tax day, got kids in school, and I only have so much bone marrow, blood and organs to sell.And so, with all due respect to the fellas and their fervor in the cause, do CharlesnChris. I mean, theres money, and then theres money, yknow?

Marshall's admission a reminder culture of health doesn't exist in sports


Marshall's admission a reminder culture of health doesn't exist in sports

Brandon Marshall of the New York Jets had one of his greatest games ever against the San Francisco 49ers two years ago and remembers almost none of it, because, as he told reporters Wednesday, he was cloudy-minded on painkillers.

This admission is one more reminder that sports are not necessarily good for one’s health, in large part because the culture of health in sports really doesn’t exist.

There is, rather, a culture of ordinance, and the players are the weaponry.

Marshall’s acknowledgement that he was masking pain from a high ankle sprain that should have kept him out of action for “four to six weeks,” by his own estimation but had him returning to action 10 days after the original injury.

“I’ll say it: I took a couple pain pills, so . . . I took a couple of pain pills to mask the pain,” he said on a conference call with CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco. “I really wasn’t supposed to play. So I don’t remember much from that game. I just remember catching those balls. That was pretty much it.”

We now re-enter the culture of playing when it isn’t prudent, either out of a misplaced sense of bravado or employer-based pressure to perform (there is no direct statement from Marshall saying that the painkillers were given to him by the team). The sense of bravado, which most athletes have, probably can never be legislated, and the culture of downward pressure to perform no matter what the infirmity has proven immensely difficult to conquer.

But there is another factor here, and that is the general lack of efficacy of painkillers. Warriors coach Steve Kerr took to using a form of medicinal marijuana because the painkillers he was taking for long-lingering symptoms from his back surgery were doing more harm than good. He said he found the marijuana was equally lacking, but he had enough concerns about the deleterious effects of Vicodin, OxyContin and other standard medications assigned to athletes in pain.

“I’m not a pot person; it doesn’t agree with me,” Kerr told CSN Bay Area’s Monte Poole on the Warriors Insider Podcast. “I’ve tried it a few times, and it did not agree with me at all. So I’m not the expert on this stuff. But I do know this: If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you’ve got a lot of pain, I don’t think there is any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin. And yet athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it’s Vitamin C, like it’s no big deal.”

He later expanded on that after the initial “Kerr Is A Sparker” headlines hit the Internet.

“Having gone through a tough spell over the last year with my own recovery from back surgery, a lot of pain, a lot of chronic pain, I had to do a lot of research,” he said. “You get handed prescriptions for Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet . . . NFL players, that’s what they’re given. That stuff is awful. That stuff is dangerous, the addiction possibility, what it can lead to, the long-term health risks. The issue that’s really important is how do we do what’s best for the players.

“But I understand that it’s a perception issue around the country. The NFL, the NBA, it’s a business. So you don’t want your customers thinking, ‘These guys are a bunch of potheads.’ That’s what it is. To me, it’s only a matter of time before medicinal marijuana is allowed in sports leagues because the education will overwhelm the perception. If you do any research at all, the stuff they’re prescribing is really bad for you and the stuff that they’re banning is fine.”

It is instructive, then, that when Marshall was asked for his position on the NFL’s stance not to include marijuana as a permissible substance for pain management, substance, a Jets public-relations employee who could be heard in the background of the call saying that Marshall “knows better than that.”

But Marshall did answer the question, saying in essence that he fully intends to know better, period.

“That is something that I actually want to research more this offseason when I have time,” he said. “I’m not a guy that knows about the benefits of what it can do for pain and other things. But I’d like to hear others’ opinions and really research the effects it can have on us – positives and negatives.”

In the meantime, sports soldiers on, using increasingly debunked methods for dealing with the pain their businesses inflict upon their employees and issuing warnings about breaching the silence of the workplace. But tales like Marshall’s will continue to surface until the businesses that require him and his like come to grips with the toll of their shortsightedness and, in some cases, neglect.

A's stripped of little-engine-that-could classification at a bad time


A's stripped of little-engine-that-could classification at a bad time

As rumored over the past two months, Major League Baseball just lowered the Oakland Athletics’ revenue by $34 million, and now all the other developments of the past few weeks have finally become a call to arms by an organization that has always been strident pacifists when it comes to money.

In other words, The Little Engine That Occasionally Could has now been stripped of its little-engine classification, and the conditions that allowed them to play the cute little underdog are gone. No more waiting for more clement economic circumstances, or a more favorable political climate, or for the ever-nebulous “future” which the A’s always dangled before its dwindling fan base.

That was the news of Wednesday. Thursday, reports from ESPN’s Jim Trotter indicated that San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos is going to swallow his pride to exercise his option to join Stan Kroenke in Los Angeles, thus reducing Mark Davis’ viable options to Las Vegas and the tender mercies of the NFL, or Oakland and the tender mercies of whoever decides to tackle the problem of a new football-atorium.

In other words, push and shove are now jockeying for position in what is expected to be a crash.

First, the A’s.

With the news that Major League Baseball is going to hack the team’s revenue sharing check by 25, 50, 75 and then 100 percent over the next four years, the margin of error for new front man Dave Kaval to get a stadium built has been reduced to those four years. He is following the dictates of his boss, the persistently hologrammatic John Fisher, who essentially shoved Lew Wolff out the door for preaching San Jose and then caution.

The A’s don’t want to share anything with the Raiders, which rules out a Coliseum site. They have investigated Howard Terminal, which is not without its issues. And there is a new darkhorse site, the land around Laney College which, in a tart bit of irony, is the site of the Raiders’ first Oakland home, Frank Youell Field.

The city and county are in the early stages of a deal to sell the Coliseum land to a group faced by Ronnie Lott and the money-moving Fortress group, and get out of the landlord business entirely. It has pledged somewhere between $190 and $200 million in infrastructure improvements, though in the case of two stadia, the question of whether that amount is split remains to be politicized.

But the real point here is that the Gordian knot that is Oakland’s weird hold on its franchises remains tightly raveled. The Fortress announcement was supposed to be a point of clarity, but the revenue sharing news and now the Chargers-to-L.A. rumors have returned chaos to its usual position at the tip of the food chain.

And chaos makes for hasty decisions, and hasty decisions are often regretted. But hey, what’s life without rich people awash in regrets?

The new developments ratchet up the pressure on the City of Oakland and Alameda County to decide what support – if any – to provide a new A’s stadium, and coincidentally what support – if any – can be provided to the Raiders if they are forced to stay in Oakland by the NFL.

It even ratchets up the pressure on the NFL owners to decide among themselves whether their actual end-game goal – to have the Raiders controlled by someone other than Mark Davis – is better served by allowing him to move his team to Las Vegas or denying him his escape route.

But now for the first time there are time constraints – a few months for Mark Davis, a few years for John Fisher and Dave Kaval. The principles of subsidized Moneyball are now conjoined with the principles of Darwinism, and as the A’s have had innovate-or-die thrust upon them, the Raiders have approached the day of reckoning they’ve been desperately kicking down the road since Al Davis’ death. Plus, the political structures of Oakland and Alameda County will catch the holiest of hells either way, and probably across the board.

But as Paul Weller once wrote, “That’s entertainment.” Find shelter, children. The acrid smell of roasting money is in the wind.