Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All's fair in love and war

Parity or equality or a league where all teams can be competitive.

Or I created the Toronto Raptors and they're still shit.

On one side of the coin of this so far non-existent CBA is profitability (understandable, if there's no profit, there's no growth; if there's no growth, there's no point in the business). On the other side, however, is parity.

As someone who's more used to European sports, especially football, I long for the good old days when Norwich City push Manchester United for the title. But those days are gone. In the same way, David Stern is probably sick of the Lakers winning so many titles and is not looking forward to the Heat winning four in a row.

But the NBA is far fairer than most sports leagues in the world. The draft system is a brilliant way of giving the worst teams a boost by getting the best young players. And it works. The Indiana Pacers and the Cleveland Cavaliers both got to the Finals because they had one very good player and a load of average ones. In some cases these early draft picks stay for their careers, have a variety of players around them and leave a little legacy when they retire (we salute you Reggie Miller). However, in some cases they jump ship at the first opportunity leaving their stupid owners with a load of not-gonna-bes (we salute you LeBron James).

On that subject, there was nothing wrong with James auctioning himself off and going to the Heat. He was a free agent after all. It happens all the time in the Premier League and Europe. A player leaves, you boo him and then you get over it. I suppose why people were a bit surprised was because he's from Cleveland. But you ask 25-year-old where you want to live if you're being paid $15m a year and it's not going to be Ohio.

And here's the reason why parity won't work, and Stern said it himself: people are going to want to play in Miami for the heat (pardon the pun), Boston and Chicago for the legacy (something which only really came about from a draft pick - Jordan could easily have gone to Houston or Portland) and LA and NY for the celebrities. Even if they are being offered more money, are Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and John Wall really going to play in Toronto or Milwaukee?

In addition, and I hate to say it, it's not fair on the Lakers. They've spent years building up their franchise as a brand and now they'll have to give their profits away. And whichever way you look at it, giving your hard earned cash to the Cleveland Cavaliers is not charity.

Shrewd business is what's needed here. General Managers and owners who can create a team of average-to-good players to play to their strengths and their opponents weaknesses. Yes Mark Cuban is stinking rich, but if the Mavericks can do it without a poster boy (sorry Dirk fans, but he's been there forever) then anyone can.

So if the Raptors don't with the championship in the next 5 years, this whole lockout will have been worthless.

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