NBA owners need protection from themselves

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NBA owners need protection from themselves

I will now explain the NBA lockout at its essence for you. Actually, Rashard Lewis will do that. I will cut and paste his remarks. This is, after all, a full service shop.Speaking to the Washington Posts Michael Lee from Las Vegas, Lewis, who has been targeted as one of the reasons the NBAs salary structure is whacked by its owners, pointed out a very salient point.Talk to the owner. He gave me the deal.Exactly.

Lewis signed a six-year, 118 million deal with the Orlando Magic after the 2007 season not because he walked into Rich DeVos office with a pistol and told him to empty his vault and common sense, but because DeVos offered it to him. Just like every other player in every other sport in the history of the industry.When it comes to contracts, the players arent sitting there negotiating that contract, Lewis said. Im sitting at home and my agent calls me, saying, I got a max on the table. Im not going to sit there and say, Naw, thats too much. Go out there and negotiate 20 or 30 (million) less. And neither would any of you if the chance ever arose.The fact is, salaries get out of whack because of two things:1. The owners get that blood apumpin when they fall in love with a player.2. The owners get buyers remorse when it turns out that players deteriorate over time.In short, every time an economic model in sports is broken, it is because the owners situation has changed. Either too many teams have lost their sense of proportion, or they arent generating as much money, or most often of all, losses in their other businesses have inspired them to shoot down their expensive hobby.In other words, the players are not responsible for anything except agreeing to play for the money the owner has offered them. They didnt break the system, if the system is actually broke. The owners did.Or at least the owners say they did. They say theyre bleeding money, which is what they always say the year before a CBA is due to expire. It is part of the life cycle of labor-management relations, which runs like this:1. A deal is signed, and the owners trumpet victory and the mechanism for profitability is ironclad and foolproof.2. The owners start getting that I-want-that smell in their noses that people do in car dealerships and malls.3. The commissioner tells advertisers their league has never done better and everyone is happy.4. The collective bargaining agreement expires in a year to 18 months, and suddenly everyone is losing his or her pantaloons.5. Lockout, until the players acknowledge that they are killing the golden goose.6. Repeat Steps 1 through 5.Happens every time.But Rashard Lewis is still right. No contract is ever signed without the owner saying, Yeah, Im good with this. Because owners are fans, and owners need fans, and owners fear fans. Owners love to look like the baddest dude in the room, and hurling money at the employees is a pretty big rush at the press conference.Conversely, not giving in to that quick adrenal fix makes the owner the butt of talk radio and newspaper and Internet japes, and owners have egos that are like yours and mine, only they can fire people to keep them fed.In short, they want their cake, they want to eat it, and still own the bakery. Which would be fine if they werent positioning themselves as moral and financial exemplars being screwed daily by the evil players and their malignant agents.Put another way, the next owner to stand up and say, I was a jackass. I am a jackass. Im probably going to keep being a jackass. Our salary structure is my fault will be the guest of honor in a crawlspace.But heres the best part. The owners want the players to shave a third off their salaries and agree to a hard salary cap, the one that the NHL owners got after closing their game for a year. Well, guess what? The NHL CBA comes up after this year, and owners are already saying the system doesnt work.You know what system would work for the owners? For players to play for nothing. And supply the balls and shoes and the uniforms. And treat their own injuries.Thats the goal. But theyll never get close but because, as Lewis said, they dont have the discipline God gave a heroin addict. They blow their own money because it gets them high, and then blame the players they give it to for taking it.I understand the owners dont want to overpay players, Lewis said, but youve got to do better negotiating. Try your best to save money.No, thats no fun, no fun at all. And after all, isnt that what you all go out to the arenas and stadiums every night and weekend to do -- see the owners have fun? Of course it is. Thats why so many people go to games to watch the ticket takers, and ignore the events on the field to stare rheumy-eyed into the owners' box.If thats what youre in it for, great. But youd save thousands each year merely by parking in front of a bank and staring at the ATM machine all day. And go team!

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

The price of watching Roger Goodell being booed back to the Bronze Age is a subtle but real one, and one that people will feel very dearly soon enough.

The last great cathartic Super Bowl is now done, with the New England Patriots winning the brilliant and decisive battle to be sports’ new evil empire. In doing so, it rendered Goodell a permanent and risible punch line in National Football League history, the mall cop who wanted the death penalty for littering, and in the words of the song “got what he wanted but he lost what he had.”

True, $40 million a year can make the dissolution of your public persona a reasonably decent tradeoff, but we lost the argument about who won his windmill tilt with the Patriots. It’s done, and he is now permanently and irrevocably a figure of ridicule.

But that’s not the only debating point America lost Sunday night, and while you wouldn’t think it given how much time we are willing to shouting at each other, quality arguments are not easily replaced.

We have almost surely lost the mindless debate about the best quarterback ever, because there is nothing anyone can bring up that the words “Tom Brady” cannot rebut except calling his own plays, and since that is no longer allowed in football, it is a silly asterisk to apply.

We have almost surely lost the equally silly shouter about the best coach ever. Bill Belichick is defiantly not fun, but he has built, improved and bronzed an organizational model that is slowly swallowing the rest of the sport. That and five trophies makes him the equal if not better of the short list of Paul Brown, George Halas, Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh and Tom Landry.

Plus, Belichick locked up the most absurd response to a question in coaching history Monday when he said, “As great as today feels . . . we're five weeks behind the other teams for the 2017 season.” Even allowing for Gregg Popovich in-game interviews, the so-grim-he-could-make-a-robot-cry worship-the-process response has now become a cliché. If 2017 prep was so important, he should have skipped yesterday’s game, and he definitely should have chosen not to waste so much time on the trophy stand after the game when training camp drills needed to be scheduled.

Oh, and DeflateGate died. Dead. No zombie possibilities here.

We do have a meatheaded argument ahead of us about which championship in the last year is the best, which can be settled here.

1. Leicester City, because 5,000-1 is 5,000-1, and the whole world understands that. Plus, there was invaluable three-month buildup that engaged non-soccer fans.

2. Chicago Cubs, because 108 years is 108 years.

3. New England Patriots, because . . . well, I don’t have to explain it unless you have no useful memory span. “Down 25 In The Third Quarter” is the new “Down 3-1.”

4. Cleveland Cavaliers, because they slayed the first unbeatable Warrior team by coming from 3-1 down, and even as a silver medalist, it will always be an internet meme, which is what passes for memorable in our decrepit culture.

5. (tie) Villanova basketball and Clemson football in a tie, because they were essentially the same great game.

7. The Pittsburgh Penguins, because the Stanley Cup Final was devoid of drama or high moments, and only 14:53 of overtime. Feh.

But everything else is settled, and this Super Bowl will not be topped for a long time. Our current cycle of absurd championships is almost surely going to end soon, because “Down 3-1” has happened twice in eight months (three times, if you count Warriors over Thunder), and the bar has now been placed well beyond reasonable clearing.

Indeed, the only thing left is for a championship team to spontaneously combust on the award stand. But if they do so and ignite Roger Goodell along the way, that would be an ending America would cheerfully endorse.

But that also isn’t an argument any more, and yes, that includes Gary Bettman.

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

The Super Bowl is today, which means the best day of the year is fast approaching.

Namely, the day after the Super Bowl.

At that point, we as a nation can complete the inventory of gastric damage we did to ourselves on what shall be known to future generations as Fried Festivus.

At that point, the people who bombard us daily with news of the game – the least important part of the week-long trade show, as we have come to learn it – will all be on planes and too tired to re-explain what we already saw 37 times on game day.

At that point, nobody will care that Terrell Owens was apparently one of the first of the 15 Hall of Fame finalists to be rejected for induction because of crimes against the NFL state. The Hall of Fame is one of the sneaky ways in which the NFL never lets us escape its obnoxiously shouty profile, and the fact that Owens is right about the flawed process doesn’t change the fact that he’ll be just fine with the process when it allows him passage.

At that point, we’ll know whether Tom Brady is to be deemed a god, or merely maintain his demigod status. At least we’ll hear more about it, because it is easily the most tiresome debate in the football diaspora, engaged in by idiots with no better idea about how to kill time. A note: If you think Tom Brady is a greater quarterback because his team won a fifth ring, or a lesser one because he didn’t, your head is now officially empty enough to be reclassified a dance hall, and you are of no more value to normal society than a papier-mache goose.

And at that point, we can return to the two things we in these parts care to know – where the Raiders are going, and how the 49ers are going to present their new football brain trust.

We needn’t explain the Raiders again to you, first because you’ve heard it all if you’re paying any attention at all. Mark Davis has been trying to cobble deals at a frantic pace in hopes that one will stick, and his 31 fellow owners still have to decide how much longer they want to endure him, while faced with the painful fact that the East Bay is getting out of the exploitative license-to-be-stolen-from stadium business. They also get to know as they go to the meeting in Houston that will ostensibly decide Davis’ fate that they have ruined California as a market by their excessive greed-laced stupidity and deserve every lousy market the state can give them.

Which brings us to the 49ers, and the latest round of Judge Them By Their Press Conferences.

If there is anything worse than this team’s on-field profile, which is why Jed York hired Kyle Shanahan, it is the way it explains itself to the outside world, which is why Jed York hired John Lynch. Both Shanahan and Lynch will be paraded before a braying mobs, probably Tuesday, and York will be there as well for the cheesy photo array and a few unconvincing words of praise about each of them (as a note, Paraag Marathe will be present but only in hologrammatic form).

They will then promise – well, something or other – and Lynch will be hailed as the face of the glorious future because the man he replaced, Trent Baalke, had the public persona of a meth-tweaked hyena. Hard to find, and not worth it when you did.

Then we’ll all remember that the job Shanalynch (or Lynchahan, depending on what part of Ireland you’re from) are being asked to do is a three-year reclamation at the very least, and that the only useful question either can be asked is “Can you fix this before Jed gets embarrassed and angry and cans you both?”

And on Wednesday, there’s the start of pre-draft prep (in order words, The Eighty-Day Slave Market), and the hamster wheel to hell gears up again toward Super Bowl LII.

Only next year, the chances of relocation hysteria and a front office upheaval are that much less, and we haven’t sufficient distractions to make the year go faster.

But enjoy Fried Festivus. We can always look forward to that, even if we change the name back in December to the more traditional "Christmas."