THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
The National Basketball Association and the NBA hype machine are back and all seems to be right in David Stern's world. Stern, in the sports media's view, returned to being the lovable ringmaster of the NBA circus.
It is time for well-heeled fans to rain insults on the Nets’ Kris Humphries. Because of his marriage to Kim Kardashian and subsequent annulment, he has become the fans' “most disliked” player which kind of shows you where NBA fans' values are. The NBA is no more than fluff entertainment. Let the games begin.
But is everything right in Stern's world?
The answer is no. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, whose city boasts an 11 percent unemployment mark and a huge budget hole, was in New York last week to genuflect before Stern and update him on the progress being made on the new arena project.
It is telling of jock clout in this country when a mayor has to plead his case before a sports commissioner?
No one knows just where the money for the arena is coming from although there was a plan to sell the city's parking spots to an outside company to get some seed money for the building. But that brought up another problem: how do you replace the parking revenue which goes to pay salaries and other city projects?
The NBA has been working with Sacramento officials for years in trying to get a "suitable" arena for the Kings owners. The Maloof brothers are tiring of the city's dithering and made amorous advances with Anaheim officials last spring to move the franchise to Orange County, California.
The National Basketball Association's 29 owners control the New Orleans Hornets franchise. Stern and company are looking for a buyer to keep the team in the very small market with limited corporate money city. New Orleans traded Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers for a package of players after the league blocked a three way deal that involved the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston. Paul ended up in a big market.
Louisiana is kicking in millions of dollars to subsidize the Hornets franchise. There are some wealthy individuals who may want to buy the team and relocate the business. San Jose officials are looking for an NBA team. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has told Stern that he wants a team to replace the Nets after that franchise jumps the Hudson and East Rivers and opens up shop in Brooklyn.
The Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard seems determined to leave central Florida for a big market like Brooklyn.