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Adam Silver: Parity precluding jersey advertisements

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Update: To clarify, the parity concern is most likely one of many hurdles to getting advertising on NBA jerseys. Just because that’s the only issue Adam Silver spoke about here doesn’t make it the primary issue.

In fact, the other hurdles could be more substantial. Who buys the advertising and for how much? Is it sold league-wide or team-by-team? How does the NBA ensure jersey ads generate new revenue as opposed to just diverting existing advertising dollars already spent on theleague? How does the uniform maker play into this? How does the shift from Adidas to Nike next year affect decisions? How do TV contracts factor (though there’s reportedly at least some resolution nationally)?

I’m still intrigued by parity and revenue-sharing elements, but it’s important to keep this discussion in the proper scope. If parity is only one hurdle of many, concerns about parity are just part of a bigger picture.

So, keep that in mind when reading below. I’ve added a couple notes of clarification.

 

 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been calling advertising on jerseys inevitable since at least 2014, and the league’s popularity continues to rise.

So, why hasn’t any team put an ad on its uniform?

Silver, via The Lowe Post podcast:

Part of the reason we haven’t moved forward is complications over our revenue-sharing system, that if certain markets did exponentially better than other markets, then it gets complicated.

But the way our revenue-sharing system works, it would be a net reduction in revenue for other clubs. And your listeners could say: “Why does that matter?” And the issue is, end of the day, most importantly, we’re trying to create parity in this league. And we don’t want a system where some teams can afford much higher payrolls than other teams.

And that’s the biggest concern, that there are a group of teams that feel they will somehow be left behind, that certain markets – and presumably some of the larger markets – will be much more successful in selling – we’re calling it a patch, a logo on a jersey, not the full-out control of the jerseys that you see in European soccer. But they’d be more successful in selling a patch. They would generate more revenue.

Those lower-revenue-generating teams would not get a substantial enough increase in revenue sharing, and therefore, they would not be able to spend as much on players, on practice facilities, on all the other enhancements necessary to compete for championship teams.

And that’s going to be my biggest concern as we continue to address it, ensuring that it doesn’t have any effect whatsoever on teams’ ability to compete.

Why sell local TV contracts? Big markets can generate more revenue there than small markets.

Why sell merchandise? Big markets can generate more revenue there than small markets.

Why sell tickets? Big markets can generate more revenue there than small markets.

Jersey ads seem like a relatively arbitrary place to draw the line.

Large markets have advantages. That’s just how it is. The league must find a suitable revenue-sharing formula, but large markets will have always have some advantage. It’s just a matter of how much, and it seems small markets are hijacking the process to stake a bigger claim. Any dollar a big-market team generates through jersey-ad sales that is shared with a a small-market team is a money that small-market team wouldn’t otherwise receive.

The players union should take exception to the league (clarification: by the league, I mean an NBA driven by a bloc of small of small-market teams) voluntarily rejecting available revenue – about half of which would go to the players. It’s not their problem that the owners can’t agree how to share their slice of the pie.

This could also explain why the league could get ads on All-Star jerseys but not regular-season jerseys. That doesn’t directly affect any group of teams over others.

Knowing (this is one of the reasons) why team jerseys don’t have ads makes me only more convinced Silver is correct about their inevitability. I expect this to get sorted out for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Refusing to accept money just because someone else might get more is not a sustainable stance – especially when your business partners, the players, want that revenue coming in.

Celtics: Romeo Langford out rest of playoffs after wrist surgery

Celtics guard Romeo Langford
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The Celtics don’t have quite enough dependable players to fill a playoff rotation. So, beyond its core, Boston has juggled deep-bench minutes throughout the postseason.

One of those options – Romeo Langford – will no longer be available.

Celtics release:

Celtics guard Romeo Langford this morning underwent successful surgery to repair the scapholunate ligament in his right wrist. He will miss the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season.

A rookie, Langford also suffered a right-hand injury last season at Indiana. A pattern? Probably not. But it’s another interruption in the 20-year-old’s development.

For Boston’s playoff hopes, this is a minor setback – one made even smaller by Gordon Hayward returning (and staying). Though more of a forward, Hayward clears the way for Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart to handle more guard minutes, a few of which could have gone to Langford.

Adam Silver: It’s on U.S. government whether American companies, like NBA, operate in China

NBA commissioner Adam Silver
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Politicians have repeatedly criticized the NBA for its involvement in China.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver is defending his league.

Sopan Deb of The New York Times:

Senators have power to affect the United State’s foreign policy, including where American companies are permitted to operate. The NBA shouldn’t face unique scrutiny for acting like a business, seeking to maximize profit, within legal parameters.

Silver is generally right: There is value in exposing American values to countries with authoritarian regimes. Basketball can be a good vehicle for doing so. Those connections can inspire change for the better.

But the league has repeatedly failed to uphold American values it espouses in its dealings in China. That warrants criticism and leaves Silver’s response quite lacking.

Adam Silver: Next NBA season will likely start in 2021

NBA commissioner Adam Silver
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The NBA said next season would begin on Christmas at the earliest.

But get it straight: That’s a best-case scenario.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, via CNN:

My best guess is that – even though, as you said, it will be the 2020-21 season – is that season won’t start until 21. We said a week or so ago that the earliest we’d start is Christmas of this year, but the more I’m learning – even listening to Dr. Fauci this morning – I continue to believe that we’re going to be better off getting into January. The goal for us next season is to play a standard season – the other part of your question – 82-game season and playoffs. And further, the goal would be to play games in home arenas in front of fans. But there’s still a lot that we need to learn in terms of rapid testing, for example. Would that be a means of getting fans into our buildings?

February seems like a reasonable expectation. But so much is changing with our handling of coronavirus. Predictions are weak at this stage.

Of course, the NBA wants to play a full 82-game season with fans at arenas. That’s how to most directly maximize revenue.

But when will it be safe for fans to attend games? How long will owners and players be content to wait while making practically no revenue? At some point, will it be better to play games and draw some revenue?

Assuming next season begins on a date the NBA doesn’t want to use as its start date going forward, how will the league get its annual calendar back on track if not reducing the schedule length? Fewer off days? Shorter offseason?

Like with many things, coronavirus creates many difficult complications.

The time Shaquille O’Neal slapped Kobe Bryant

Lakers stars Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal
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Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant fighting is stuff of legend in their highly productive (three championships!) and oftentumultuous relationship.

Now, that incident during the 1999 lockout is getting detailed like never before.

Jeff Pearlman’s “Three-Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil, and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty,” via ESPN:

On one particular day, both O’Neal and Bryant arrived at Southwest College, ready to play. It was the first week of January, not long after the Kobe-is-the-next-Jordan piece ran in L.A. Magazine. Some other Lakers were in attendance, as was Olden Polynice, the veteran center who’d spent the preceding four and a half seasons with Sacramento. He was hoping the Lakers would sign him to a free agent contract, and had been told that Mitch Kupchak, the team’s general manager, was planning on showing up. Though they’d battled for years, Polynice and O’Neal enjoyed a friendly relationship. “All I wanted to do was go there and play with Shaq,” Polynice recalled. “The Lakers were my favorite team as a boy. It would have been a dream. I wanted to show Mitch I was serious.”

The players straggled in, loosened up, stretched, shot some jumpers. They proceeded to divide into teams — some guys over here, some guys over there. O’Neal and Polynice — dueling 7-footers — were on different sides. “Kobe was on my squad,” Polynice recalled. “Opposite Shaq.”

It was just another run, until it was no longer just another run. As he was prone to do in pickup, O’Neal called a series of iffy fouls whenever he missed a shot.

Miss.

“Foul!”

Miss.

“Foul!”

“I’m tired of this s—,” Bryant finally said. “Just play.”

“One more comment like that,” O’Neal snapped, “and I slap the s— out of you.”

A few possessions later, Bryant drove toward the rim, leaned into O’Neal’s body, and scooped the ball beneath his raised arm and into the hoop. It was a pretty move, but nothing otherworldly.

“F— you!” he screamed at O’Neal. “This is my team! My motherf—ing team!”

It felt edgy. Everything stopped. “He wasn’t talking about the pickup team,” Polynice recalled. “He was talking about the Lakers.”

O’Neal wasn’t having it. “No, motherf—er!” he screamed. “This is my team!”

“F— you!” Bryant replied. “Seriously — f— you! You’re not a leader. You’re nothing!”

What did he just say?

“I will get your ass traded,” O’Neal said. “Not a problem.”

Several of the participants stepped in to separate the two, and the game eventually continued. But it no longer felt even slightly relaxed or friendly. “We probably went up and down the court two more times,” Polynice said. “Kobe goes to the basket, scores, screams at Shaq, ‘Yeah, motherf—er! That s— ain’t gonna stop me!'”

O’Neal grabbed the ball in order to freeze action.

“Say another motherf—ing word,” he said, staring directly at Bryant.

“Aw, f— you,” Bryant said. “You don’t kn–”

Smack!

O’Neal slapped Bryant across the face. Hard.

“His hands are huge,” said Blount, who was playing in the game. “The noise was loud.”

Here is Polynice’s recollection: “Then Shaq swung again at Kobe, but he missed. S—! I run over and grab Shaq, because I’m big enough to do so. And Shaq keeps swinging, but everything’s missing because I have his arms. I’m grabbing on to Shaq, holding on for dear life, yelling, ‘Somebody grab Kobe! Seriously — somebody grab him!’ Because I’m holding Shaq and Kobe’s taking swings at him. At one point Shaq gets an arm loose and he pops me in the head. Seriously, no good deed goes unpunished. And I’m telling you, if Shaq gets loose he would have killed Kobe Bryant. I am not exaggerating. It was along the lines of an I-want-to-kill-you-right-now punch. He wanted to end Kobe’s life in that moment.”

Bryant was undeterred. “You’re soft!” he barked. “Is that all you’ve got? You’re soft!” Blount begged Bryant to stop talking. “You’re not helping,” he said. “Just shut up.” The altercation was finally broken up when Jerome Crawford, O’Neal’s bodyguard, walked onto the floor and calmed his friend down. O’Neal was furious. “You can’t touch him in practice,” he wrote of Bryant. “He’s acting like Jordan, where some players thought you couldn’t touch Mike. Whenever somebody ripped Kobe, he’d call a foul. After a while, I’m like, ‘Listen, man, you don’t have to start calling that punk s—.'” As he walked from the court, Polynice looked at a shaken Kupchak and said, loudly, “You should sign me just for that.”

This book sounds good. Even the extended excerpt is compelling. What a closing line from Olden Polynice.

Bryant said that fight brought O’Neal’s respect. Of course, they still had their differences. But they won through their squabbling. That commitment to team success and the success itself have endured.