THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
When George Young was running the New York Giants in the General Manager's chair back in the late 1970s into the 1990s, he used to say that "a general manager has to general manage, an owner has to own, a player has to play and a coach has to coach" in order to be successful George Young's formula worked for his team as he put together two Super Bowl championship squads in 1986 and in 1990.
George Young probably would not enjoy being a general manager in the National Basketball Association these days. Owners general manage, players general manage and the industry is on the verge of a labor shutdown on July 1, 2011. The Carmelo Anthony trade from the Denver Nuggets to the New York Knicks probably put the NBA a step closer to a lockout and probably will push another owner, Denver's Stan Kroenke (whose wife Ann is the daughter of Wal-Mart co-founder Bud Walton — Wal-Mart is notorious for hiring cheap labor and preventing unionization among the company's employees) probably can now be counted among the NBA owners hard line faction that wants to reduce players salaries.
Kroenke is also the owner of the St. Louis Rams franchise in the National Football League. You might have heard that the football owners are thinking about locking out their employees — the players — on March 4. National Football League owners also want to reduce employee's salaries.
Carmelo Anthony seemingly called all the shots in the trade that ultimately brought him to the building that sits between 31st and 33rd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue in Manhattan (a building that is not on the New York City property tax roll since 1982 which means that New York City is losing about $14 million annually in taxes). Anthony has joined LeBron James and Chris Bosh as big name talent who have switched teams. The difference between Anthony and the other two is simple. James and Bosh fulfilled their contractual obligations, James in Cleveland and Bosh in Toronto and the two could legally shop around their talents.
Anthony still had a few months left on his Denver Nuggets deal before he could legally shop around his talent. Carmelo Anthony usurped his Denver general manager Masai Ujiri's power last summer by accident at his wedding when New Orleans Hornets star Chris Paul toasted Anthony and his new wife Lala Vasquez, "We will form our own Big 3" referring to the Miami Heat's signing of James, Bosh and reupping Dwayne Wade and the Knicks signing of Amar'e Stoudemire. Stoudemire, Anthony and Paul would team up with the Knicks by 2012.
New York now has two-thirds of Paul's "own Big 3."
The NBA's collective bargaining agreement with the players ends on June 30 and NBA Commissioner David Stern wants to cut salaries and the players want to keep status quo. There was pressure on Anthony to get his situation squared away before June 30. No one knows what the outcome of the agreement will be, but if Stern and the 30 NBA owners want to cut expenses, it is a good bet that Anthony was putting millions at risk if he played out his Denver contract.
Last summer, Stern said something about the league needing to cut player costs somewhere around $700 to $800 million and that the league's 30 teams combined would lose $340-350 million in 2010-11 and something has to be done and that would start by players giving back items earned in collective bargaining.
The NBA no longer wants to give the players 57 percent of the revenues.
Of course not every team is going to lose an average of ten million dollars a season. The New York Knickerbockers franchise, despite putting a poor product on the court (until this season, the team is now a notch above mediocre), sells out every game and the Dolan family owns the franchise, the building and, of course, the Dolans have the Madison Square Garden TV network and Cablevision. There is no way without creative accounting the Knicks franchise is losing money given the team's revenue stream availability.