It’s a shame that in the NBA, or as Bill Simmons calls it, the No Benjamin’s Association that the rich do in fact get richer. No, this isn’t a rant on how the Lakers will probably land some stud at the trade deadline for a poo poo platter of expiring contracts or practice squad guys. This is about how the league is structured. Looking around it’s immediately obvious that teams stuck in small markets are going to lose money. Being a good team is supposed to raise you from financial destitute, but in a league strapped for cash, this isn’t happening anytime soon. With 40% of teams losing money last season, and the economy looking unlikey to turn around the NBA does have the most financial problems of all the major sports. Unless you count NBC, the NBA is probably the next closest organization in need of a Heidi Montag style face-lift.
It’s troubling to see how many NBA organizations are struggling to stay afloat without some good form of revenue sharing in place. It’s a travesty that teams like the Clippers, Knicks, and yes my Warriors make ten-million plus dollars profit each year, and field teams that would have a tough time beating the Washington Generals. Yes, these are the teams that I deem the greediest in terms of giving back to their fans. They do relatively nothing to improve their rosters, and they have plenty of income that could be spent to improve their respective teams. I don’t mind some of the teams atop the list, since the Lakers do deserve to make more money, because they do always put a good team on the court, but I feel that a teams revenue should be more driven by their ability to win. It’s been quite awhile since I broke down some financial situation, and most of this post is derived from Forbes numbers that they released on the teams earnings from last year.
There are many teams that are very fan friendly in the league, and two of them the Mavericks and the Blazers have shown that they are willing to spend to win. Unfortunately for them, they both lost a ton of money last season. The Blazers lost a whopping $20.3 million, and the Mavs lost $17.4 million according to Forbes. With owners like Paul Allen and Mark Cuban you know your team will always have a clear direction, and that will be towards winning. One thing I found amazing on last years earnings list was that the Eastern Conference Champions, Orlando Magic, lost $2.2 million on the season. Yes, that’s right, they made it to the finals, and still ended up losing money on the year. Imagine if they were bad, what kind of position would they be in? They would probably have the same kinds of problems as the Kings did towards the end of last year. On one road trip near the end of the season, the Kings left bench warmer Kenny Thomas at home. No, he wasn’t hurt or dealing with any personal issues, the Kings decided they wanted to save on hotel costs, and plane fares instead of taking him along.
In essence, winning doesn’t matter nearly as much as where you are located when it comes to profits, which is nothing new I know. Now the teams that don’t have much to spend aren’t able to bring in the top tier max contract talent, because they know that they will be outbid, and can’t sign enough of the “roll” players that make the top tier players want to go there. There is no way a team like the Kings are going to be able to compete on the free agent market even if they have the cap space, because they know that they need the money in the long run more than the player. It hurts the league, and it’s competitiveness when there are teams that don’t really have to try to put a good product on the court. I’m wondering if this economic downturn will filter more players over to Europe, where there seems to be a bunch of money, and no salary cap. I’ve been a Warriors fan since I was born, and ever since Cohan became the majority owner, he hasn’t cared what team is out there as long as he keeps getting his $10 million annually. Same goes for Donald Sterling, the Clippers owner. The Knicks are one of the most profitable teams, and they have sucked for years now. I think the NBA needs to rethink the way money is divided up between the teams, and get a better revenue sharing program. I’d propose if you finish .500 then you don’t have to share as much, since you were a successful team. If you are in the lottery, or have an under .500 record (yes, Eastern Conference teams if you are a 6-8 seed in the playoffs you still aren’t good), then you should be subjected to heavier revenue sharing. I know this will never happen, but I don’t want to see teams go broke. I also want to see my Warriors squad forced into making good decisions, because their money depends on it. There’s been numerous talks of boycotting in Oakland, but that’s a whole different topic. I guess I’m honestly just looking for ways to force the W’s management to sell the team…