Do you remember kindergarten? You walk through those doors on the first day as a rookie to an educational system, make friends and learn new skills. Then the school board tells tells your coach (ahem!), teacher, 'Costs are up. You need to tell the rookies they need to pay for play dough, Kleenex and volunteer to raise money for school costs and various charities'. How well a child does in school and later on in life is a testament to our educational system and the opportunities it provides. Do you think Cynthia Cooper or Scottie Pippen will forget all they learned about the game in the WNBA and NBA respectively as they are inducted in the Hall of Fame this week? What about all the work they have done for local charities and promoting their leagues? Not for one second. So you would think the NBA and the player's union would be in a partnership without one barking orders at the other. In kindergarten, you are taught to share and treat your friends with respect. And most of the time, disputes over the sandbox are short-lived and we move on. Now, I am not expecting NBA Comissioner David Stern to solve this issue by inviting the player's union to discuss things over a couple of pudding pops, but it really shouldn't be this difficult. We are talking about grown-ups, now. Sure, things will get heated and words may be exchanged but at the end of the day we shouldn't let egos get in the way. Let's continue this discussion and move onto the Basketball Hall of Fame inductions and Little Caesar's in Detroit.
'And in this corner....'
Now, by comparing kindergarten to the NBA, I am not belittling our country's school system, life's 'rookies' or even the NBA. All I am saying is, for the most part, we got over things quicker then. Your playmate may have ticked you off by taking the blocks but two minutes later, it's snack time and you're planning games for recess. As the years go on, egos and other influences may or may not get in the way and I know, things change. But in all seriousness, the NBA is looking out for the viability of the league and so is the player's union, but the union is thinking of the players first. Both sides are resuming talks this week and working toward a new labour agreement. This is what kills me, though. They started these talks last year and are not even close to meeting in the middle. Remember NBA All-Star weekend back in February? The players said no way to a deal to replace the one that expires next year on June 30th, 2011. The union submitted it's own deal but the league isn't buying it. To top it all off, NBA Commissioner David Stern says the league will loose $370 million this season which the union denies. $370 million, really? So the excuse is, the salary cap was higher than originally thought because revenue numbers were up but the league claims expenses were up, too. But $370 million in the hole? I don't have the financial background for Wall Street but it doesn't take a genius to figure out you don't spend more money than you have. Some have car loans, mortgages and can relate to things going on credit and paying them off. But I don't think any of us can relate to this amount of money. In my mind, the NBA Commissioner is responsible for the league and the decisions he or she makes (including their staff) affects how the league operates. So how do expenses pile up as high as $370 million without being paid down? One side is thinking too much about making money and the other side is thinking too much about winning championships and not enough about the happy medium. Something has to give because a lock out isn't the answer. Maybe Bill Cosby should be the mediator and bring some tasty treats. I'm up for anything.
Little Caesars in Detroit
Last year, Bill Davidson, Co-Owner of the Detroit Pistons, died. His wife and now sole owner, is considering selling the team itself or as a part of a package with Palace Sports and Entertainment. In comes Little Caesars mogul, Mike Ilitch. He owns the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings and now wants to buy the Pistons to make sure another buyer doesn't move it out of town. The key in all of this surrounds Mike Illitch and his wife owning a bunch of entertainment hot spots in Detroit. I can see the argument for leverage in corporate sponsorship but what happens if the NBA shuts down because a labour agreement could not be reached this year? Last year, FORBES put the Pistons' dollar value at $479 million and this value could drop with a work stoppage in the NBA. But with the Ilitchs owning the Detroit Pistons, it would certainly secure the team's home there. The motivations for selling the team seem to be more personal than business, so keeping the team in Detroit is a good move.
Friday Night Fame
So this Friday marks the official inductions of this year's nominees into the Basketball Hall of Fame. As per tradition, current Hall Inductees will introduce this year's inductees. So it is only fitting then, Michael Jordan will be alongside former Bulls teammate, Scottie Pippen as he is honoured twice this year - once for contributing to the Chicago Bulls' 6 NBA titles and also for the Dream Team. But for the first time this year, a former player is being inducted in the Hall largely for what she has accomplished in the WNBA: Cynthia Cooper. Her story is both inspiring and funny at the same time. She's played in Segovia, Spain and in Italy from 1987-1996. When she was playing in Italy, she found out about the WNBA being created and called head office to see where she could send her resume. The person on the other end says, "We've been looking for you. You've been assigned to the Houston Comets". And the rest is history. Congratulations to all of this year's inductees.
Basketball Beyond the Floor
Remember to join me here on the DNB this Thursday when we will be discussing Raise the Roof - a book describing another important event in women's basketball history. Don't miss it. See you on Thursday and until then, happy reading.