Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Quote of the Week

I haven't written one word here on the NBA lockout, and that's mostly because nobody really cares about it. Oh, you hadn't heard... yeah, the NBA season should have started by now, but hasn't. It's kind of like that NFL lockout that everyone was talking about this summer, except that it's way dumber and nobody's paying any attention.

But that doesn't mean we all can't have a little fun with it, right? Without further ado, we'll turn it over to the greatest basketball player of all time (sorry, Larry)... and one of the worst owners of all time (sorry, Donald). Tragically, they're the same guy.


"If you can't make it work economically, you should sell the team."
                           - Michael Jordan, during the 1998 NBA lockout

Now, a decade and a half older and seated on the other side of the aisle as an NBA owner, Jordan is leading a group of hard-line executives who refuse to compromise further... because they don't feel that they can make it work economically. Whoops.

It's funny to me how a tiger is sometimes able to change his stripes when his circumstances have changed. I think this is a particularly notable and ironic example of the dynamic that I first mentioned in this blog post--that is to say, it's easy for us to criticize management until we're in their shoes. Putting ourselves in somebody else's position isn't always easy, but it's essential if we're going to understand how they are likely to act or respond to something that we do.

For what it's worth, in this situation I can see both points of view--that of Jordan the player and of Jordan the owner. With the revenues that NBA teams enjoy, it should be literally impossible to lose money as a franchise owner. That the owners continue to lose money because they insist on signing mediocre players to awful contracts is, ultimately, their own problem.

But for the players to continue overplaying their hand here--professional athletes are a decaying asset, no matter how you slice things, and there's a new supply of them coming out of college every year who'd be willing to play for half of what current players make--is lunacy. Ultimately, the owners can hold out much longer than the players can, and they know it.

So while I sympathize with the bitter rantings of Jordan the player, current players would do well to remember and recognize that they are not Michael Jordan, and that they are replaceable. And if they could do a slightly better job of putting themselves in the owners' shoes (unlike 1998 MJ), they'd be back on the courts tomorrow. Not that anyone would care...

[SB Nation]

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