David Stern says league will have to stop losing money

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As we march inevitably toward a lockout this summer, Wednesday night was David Stern’s turn to throw an elbow.

One day after players’ union president Derek Fisher said the latest owner from the owners was no step forward, Stern responded with what he considers the bottom line in negotiations — the actual bottom line.

As in the league has to start making money, he told Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.

“We’re not going to lose any money,” Stern said. “I’m not going to be commissioner of a league that is comfortable [losing money]. Because I don’t have a group of owners who find it acceptable for me to have that conversation with them.

“You don’t have $4 billion worth of revenue and pay out over $2 billion in salary and benefits to lose money. It’s something that we have sort of gotten used to as the revenues have gone up … but the world has changed about the prospect for all franchises, the world has changed for a lot of reasons – and economically – and now people who make investments in buildings and things expect not to lose money.”

Nobody, not even the players, thinks the owners should have to lose money. But the issue is more complex — the league said before that 22 teams will lose a combined $300 million this year. But, the 8 teams making money have almost no revenue sharing. Put simply, the Lakers are about to make nearly $200 million a year in local television revenue and the Kings make $11 million and the Lakers do not have to share currently. It’s not a simple matter of just controlling costs.

But the owners have gone through a recession and seen revenues dip. More importantly, the value of franchises has dipped. Ten years ago you could count on the value of the franchise going up to cover any losses. (Think of it this way: If you bought a franchise for $100 million, lost $5 million a year for 10 years, then sold the team for $200 million, you would have made $50 million and those losses were really just an investment. Those days of the franchise value bailing owners out on paper are gone.)

The owners want fundamental changes to the system and Stern is clearly standing his ground. The players are pretty good with the system as is and are not moving right now either.

So, we are headed for a lockout. Enjoy these playoffs.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.