Even before NBA Commissioner David Stern named lying opportunist Clay Bennett to head the league's Relocation Committee, he was all about team owners selling their teams. At least so says Paul Allen, in his hot-off-the-presses book Idea Man, of a time he came to Stern in a money bind.
Allen, as most know, is the longtime owner of the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Seahawks. And during a period of basketball-based financial distress--both his own, and many other team owners'--he went to New York to discuss options with Stern.
Before long, the league may become stratified into haves and havenots, with small-market teams shaving player payrolls just to stay afloat and large-grossing teams having "huge economic disparities to utilize to make them better," as NBA Commissioner David Stern said recently. At that point, only four or five franchises will have a legitimate shot at a championship. You'll see more half-empty arenas as people weary of watching their lovable losers get hammered. Top free agents will focus on fewer cities, typically those with the best media and promotional opportunities. National interest and TV ratings can't help but suffer.
Or as Stern put it, the NBA "is viable as long as you have owners who want to continue funding losses. But it's not on the long term a sustainable business model...."
During the throes of the Rose Garden's bankruptcy, I met with Stern in New York. When I asked him what alternatives he saw for me, the commissioner told me, "Well, you can always sell your team."
Yes, Paul. You can always sell your team. It's not like the eternal hate you'll be shown by the residents of your own town depending on the buyer really matters that much.