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RECESSIONAL IN THE NBA
In the past few months there have been numerous reports that Commissioner Walter Kennedy of the National Basketball Association had been fired by the league's owners. One report even quoted an 11-to-6 vote favoring dismissal. That total should have been evidence enough that the story was false, since the NBA Constitution requires a three-fourths majority—13 votes—to fire a commissioner.
Kennedy quieted the rumors last week by announcing that he would retire when his current contract expires in 1975, adding that his move is purely voluntary. As proof he points to the 10-year, $500,000 consulting job the owners have awarded him as a going-away present. "Hush money," cried Kennedy detractors.
Kennedy's critics, who have often rapped him justifiably in the past, were very likely wrong this time. Despite an inept coin toss here and dismaying lack of decisiveness there, Kennedy has done a reasonably good job of dealing with the NBA's fractious owners, most of whom want an assertive, independent commissioner about as much as they want to drop the reserve clause. His 10 years in office offer some good reasons why he was not canned. During his tenure NBA television revenues increased from $0 to $9 million per annum, and its nationally televised games from none to what will be 38 in the coming season. The league has almost doubled in size to 17 teams, with five of the NBA's healthiest franchises included among the new clubs. Most gratifyingly, attendance has risen from two to seven million.
In fact, if Kennedy could possibly negotiate an armistice with the ABA by the time he retires and clean up a batch of lawsuits facing the NBA, he could leave the league in remarkably better condition than he found it. A recent Harris poll indicated that while baseball's popularity has increased 3.3% in the past year and pro football's has declined 3%, pro basketball's has jumped nine and a half percentage points. Best of all, the pollsters say pro basketball is now the favorite spectator sport of American teen-agers.
STUDY IN FUTILITY
There is a certain irony to be detected in baseball attendance figures through July 10, as reported by The Sporting News. In 41 home games, the Kansas City Royals drew 699,007. The world champion Oakland Athletics, in 41, had an attendance of only 512,057. In 40 home games, the Milwaukee Brewers drew 609,862. But the Atlanta Braves showed a mere 372,725 for 34 home games.
As you may remember, the Braves moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta complaining about poor support and, on the same grounds, the Athletics moved from Kansas City to Oakland. In each case the club that moved into the city that was vacated is now outdrawing the original franchise holder.
For anyone who would like to pursue the case further, the same has happened with the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets. Or still further? The Texas Rangers, who fled Washington because they were unloved, have an attendance crisis in their new home. Want to bet Washington's new team outdraws the Rangers next year?
GETAWAY DAY AT BULLHEAD