Weekly Countdown (cont.)
4 Questions rescued from the spam
4. Do you think the OKC Thunder's attendance will stay this high long term? It's a new and shiny toy for them. Give them another year of a bad team and we'll see that drop. The NBA has to realize it cannot afford to lose cities with history like Seattle. I'm afraid my beloved Bucks will not be in Milwaukee in five years. I'm sure David Stern will say he wants them to stay, but he will be tickled pink when they move to Las Vegas or wherever. The NBA has not succeeded in any of its newer cities except maybe Toronto. New Orleans, Charlotte, Memphis, Vancouver all have tried and all are having attendance issues.
Those are good points. It will be a big short-term help to the Thunder to win the rights in the lottery to Blake Griffin from Oklahoma, the likely (at this time, at least) No. 1 pick who would solidify the fans' investment in their new team.
New Orleans is drawing large crowds now that the team is strong, but the Bobcats' lousy teams haven't been able to overcome the hangover of the Hornets' divorce from Charlotte, and the Memphis (nee Vancouver) Grizzlies have put forth some of the league's least watchable teams in recent years, apart from Jerry West's short run.
In most cases, the financial success of the franchise depends on the competence of its basketball management.
My own feeling is that the league wants to see teams stay put because each franchise makes an enormous long-term investment in its community, and no business should want to walk away from that investment. But other owners don't like to stop a team from moving, as they want the freedom to move if things go badly in their market. And Stern doesn't want to tell an owner to not move after spending hundreds of millions to buy a team.
3. Why can't Mark Cuban see that all of his antics are a big part of the reason the Mavs are so inconsistent? In the past, Dirk Nowitzki has publicly stated that it would be best for the team if Cuban resigned himself to the owner's box or to a seat away from the court, yet Cuban continues to sit courtside and yell at officials and opposing players. And in the meantime, the Mavs continue to fall out of contender status. Doesn't Cuban realize he was just as much a part of the Mavs' problems as Avery Johnson last year?
The bigger picture of Cuban's management is that the Mavs have been in contention ever since he bought the team. No one is perfect, but it's easy to criticize him for being too involved because he is seen on TV. An awful lot of owners ruin their franchises by not being involved in the day-to-day operations, or by taking bad advice from friends who don't know anything about basketball and then forcing their GMs to follow through on those ideas. But those kinds of things happen behind the scenes and so those owners get away with their bad behavior. When Cuban yells too much during a game, the blemish on his franchise is cosmetic, but it discolors all of the good that has happened in Dallas since he bought the Mavs.
2. I enjoy your articles and appreciate your well-informed analysis, but I have to disagree with you about Andrew Bynum. There's no way he should even be in the All-Star conversation. I know you didn't say he should be an All-Star, but to even mention him given his so-so season is a big stretch. Shouldn't an All-Star candidate consistently play down the stretch of close games? I think he's just getting by right now because of his physical tools. Maybe he'll step up in the playoffs, but he hasn't been much of a difference-maker so far. (Editor's note: This letter was sent before Bynum's 42-point, 15-rebound game against the Clippers on Wednesday.)
I hear you, but for a 21-year-old he's doing pretty well, considering that he's coming off a knee injury and he should be a senior in college. The Celtics' Kendrick Perkins was a young center with a lot of critics last season, but the playoffs defined him because he rose up to the moments when his team needed him. I imagine that's how it will go for Bynum. He's learning right now, and it doesn't always look good, but he needs to go through these times in order to be the center the Lakers will need in the playoffs.
1. How is it that LeBron James is so rarely called for traveling? He has been taking three steps to the hoop since high school. It reminds me of Kevin McHale in the low post, but done more often and with less nuance. Aside from the laughable "crab dribble" incident, he gets away with it most of the time. Will it ever stop? Is too much money riding on the kid to sic the referees on him? It would be a shame to anoint a player MVP when he is clearly cheating.
You know the drill. Fans have been complaining about NBA traveling for decades, but the business of the league is built on star players doing extraordinary things. It drives the FIBA referees in Europe crazy to watch the violations that are ignored in the NBA; but the case can also be made that European basketball fails to make money because the people in charge haven't run their leagues like a business and haven't made sacrifices to develop star personalities.