Another conspiracy? Why LeBron James and 2010 free agent chase hurts the NBA
They argue that David Stern and his cronies at head office interfere and meddle to help larger markets and maximize revenues. They point to New York winning Patrick Ewing’s rights in the draft lottery, Michael Jordan’s special treatment from the zebras, Los Angeles somehow advancing past Portland and Sacramento in the playoffs, and, most recently, Kevin Garnett ending up in Boston …
Perception is everything. For years, I’ve heard critics, pundits, and casual fans complain the NBA is fixed.
They argue that David Stern interferes and meddles to help larger markets and maximize revenues. They point to New York winning Patrick Ewing’s rights in the draft lottery, Michael Jordan’s special treatment from the refs, Los Angeles advancing past Portland and Sacramento in the playoffs, and, most recently, Kevin Garnett ending up in Boston.
Some see a coincidence. Others see a conspiracy. Either way, the perception of a conspiracy is damning for any pro league, particularly one recovering from the Tim Donaghy scandal.
This brings us to the summer of 2010, the great free agent chase. On one hand, nothing is wrong with New York clearing cap space and preparing to offer LeBron James the largest ‘max’ contract in history.
On the other hand, if James signs with New York the conspiracy haters will again cry second shooter at the grassy knoll. They’ll talk of a not-so subtle backroom deal or collusion between the game’s stakeholders to put the world’s greatest player in the world’s greatest market.
Sure, James in the five boroughs is marketer’s dream, but a dangerous flip side exists. Cleveland, without their superstar, reverts back to have-not status, losing much of their increased franchise value. The Cavaliers won’t be a money-pit like the Bobcats or Grizzlies, but, in these troubling economic times, they will join a growing number of clubs on somewhat shaky ground.
James joining the Knicks will have consequences. Many will see a larger market like New York prospering at the expense of a smaller market like Cleveland. And the perception of a league conspiracy will continue.
Is James in New York good for the NBA? Is there a conspiracy at work to have LeBron in LeBroadway? Get at us in the comment box below and come back to HoopsVibe The Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of imagine1.