Wait… what!? That can’t be true.
That was my initial reaction to the news that Commissioner Stern had exercised his power to be as brainless (and irresponsible) as his little Grinch-heart so desired. And while much of this made-for-TV drama has centered around Chris Paul, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol, this really has nothing to do with them, or the three teams directly involved.
The last 5+ months of extensive (and mostly inept) labor meetings impersonated a battle built primarily around greed.
But that wasn’t it at all.
Had it been about money, the player’s willingness to give up hundreds of millions of dollars in salaries would have ended the lockout months ago. More than dollar signs, the owners wanted the power to control and limit player movement – something they believed would allow them to improve the competitive balance of the league and enrich the plummeting value of some smaller market teams.
In hindsight, the lockout was probably closer to 10% about money, and 90% about power, which doesn’t sound so bad when you realize that yesterday’s decision by Stern was 0% about money (or the best interest of the Hornets) and 100% about power.
If it was about money… your second biggest media market (L.A.) just got bigger with the addition of another superstar. Cha-ching.
If it was about the best interest of the Hornets… you’re losing Chris Paul at season’s end (no matter what). The Lakers just offered $.75 on the dollar, along with the added bonus of clearing enough cap space to significantly improve in the near future. Even David Kahn would see the logic in this (wait, maybe he wouldn’t).
Yesterday’s events were very simple: Stern capitalized on an opportunity to employ his power and send a message to the players. While that may not be entirely surprising, here’s what is:
Stern is a self-aware individual. He knew the backlash would be severe. He knew it would further alienate the owners from the players. He knew he would have to make a statement and answer the multitude of questions from the media. He knew the fans would be in an absolute uproar. He weighed all of that and still said:
“It’s worth it to me.”
And with that, welcome back NBA! You’ll never quite be the same again…