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Phil's Corner Blog

The Real Legacy of David Stern: Tanking and the Seattle Supersonics

Posted by pnaessensshow on February 5, 2014 at 10:20 AM



We talked about that subject earlier this week didn’t we? How Peyton Manning and the legacy of his career shouldn’t be determined by his 11-12 record in the playoffs but by everything he’s done during his time in the NFL. I think it’s only fair and I believe history will be very kind to Peyton Manning. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.


On today’s show we talked about outgoing NBA Commissioner David Stern. My guests are both from small market teams who’ve benefited from some of Stern’s decisions and of course they have a more favorable opinion than I do and they are entitled to their opinion. To some extent I agree with them but where we differ, and in the interest of time and moving on, I didn’t explain my opinions as well as I would have liked to.


I’ll do that now.


We talked about tanking today and I’m against it. Tanking, in a nutshell, is fielding a team that you hope will lose enough games in the hopes you can garner one of the top five picks in the draft. I understand why it's done and I can’t fault NBA teams for doing so. The problem I have is that Stern hasn’t even tried to do anything about it. Hopefully teams draft a star who takes their team to the Promised Land somewhere down the road.


As a 40+ year fan of the Association I think tanking is bull dust.


Let’s say I own a bakery and I want to have the best baked goods out there. I want to be better than every other bakery. If I can’t afford the right ingredients and the right equipment I’m going to have a difficult time accomplishing my goals. The consumer won’t tolerate a bad product for long so it's either get creative or I’m going to be out of business.


The NBA doesn’t work this way. It rewards inferiority by allowing opportunities for success without trying to succeed. In short it allows day old bread to be marketed as fresh and maybe at some point the bread won’t be as stale. In the real world you’re out of business but in David Stern’s NBA you get rewarded.


I can’t remember the last time teams with a lottery pick or even two had teams go to a Championship. Cleveland’s had a bushel basket full of golden tickets and look how far that’s got them? The last time they even made it to a Championship they were led by a lottery pick who took his talents to South Beach. It looks as if another lottery pick wants out as well without a banner to show for their tanking.


The NBA does have a salary cap in place and a maximum payroll for individual players. I’m down with the max contract and a cap on total team salaries but why doesn’t the NBA have a minimum amount a team must spend on its team salaries? Why are teams allowed to scrimp, save, lose 60 games or more and then be rewarded for their inferiority? The NBA doesn’t deserve that and neither do the fans.


A minimum salary cap would also allow the lottery draft to remain in place. Teams who put together a ballclub they hoped to win with and for whatever reason didn’t would be in the hunt for those magic ping-pong balls in the hopes they land a player who can take them over-the-top. Losing teams who rest star players for no legit reason will face fines, sanctions and penalties because losing on purpose


A minimum salary cap would never fly because the small market owners would cry foul. They would complain they couldn’t afford this but if that is the case then what the hell are they doing in a business they can’t afford to be in? Who does that and gets rewarded? Not many other businesses that’s for sure. Only in David Stern’s NBA is that allowed.


Another way to fix this tanking mess would be to take a page out of soccer’s playbook. Those leagues have two or three divisions and essentially the top two teams of the lower division move up a division with the bottom two teams being relegated to lower divisions. It works for them and it could work for the NBA but the owners would never go for that either.


In my opinion David Stern is the father of tanking in the NBA and never once tried to discipline his child.


Something else we didn’t talk about and I wanted to (Zeb is understandably fed up with the subject) was the debacle of the Seattle Supersonics being sold and then moved to Oklahoma City. That entire fiasco didn’t make a lick of sense to me. It certainly didn’t make sense to Sonics fans then and it doesn’t now. How the NBA could allow the city with the 14th highest market share to lose a team to a city placing lower (44th) is foolish to me.


David Stern knew the new owners were planning on moving the team despite their agreement not to and did nothing.


Oklahoma City has showed they deserve a basketball team, just not the Sonics. They have great fans but those fans are getting screwed because they have a cheap owner (insert the small market excuse at your leisure) who refuses to pay out max contracts to keep the players he’s drafted. They were already forced to trade away James Harden (time will tell how that trade ultimately works out). They will probably lose reserve point guard Reggie Jackson in 2015 because he wants to get paid and don’t be surprised if Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant wind up leaving as well (insert the small market excuse).


Now why do I blame David Stern?


There have been times when Stern has interfered with the way teams have done business. He nixed the Chris Paul to the Lakers trade (we talked about that on today’s show) and he fined the Spurs 250,000 bucks for resting aging veterans, so he has shown he will intervene when necessary. If there was ever a time for intervention it was then yet he did nothing.


I hope this helps to clarify my position as to why I can’t speak as highly of David Stern as others do. If you take the time to listen to today’s show I have plenty of other reasons as well.


See ya tomorrow!























Categories: Phil's Corner NBA, Radio Shows, Phil's Musings

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1 Comment

Reply Taylor
5:46 PM on February 7, 2014 
The NBA does have a minimum salary, or as they call it, a "salary floor." Teams must commit at least $52.81 million to player salaries.