If you were in the middle of a public relations war with a powerful union, and had thus far failed to convince the public at large that your claims about NBA teams losing money was true, what would you do? If you were David Stern, you’d buy the Hornets on behalf of the NBA and present them as Exhibit A to that skeptic public.
Leaked financials? Tales of woe? A steadfast determination to prove that in today’s economic climate the only way to survive is to slash player salaries? Stern has hit a home run with this one. By opening up a team to public examination in a way that would be impossible with an owner-owned club, Stern has laid bare the problems that can plague a franchise, and possibly even cause a fanbase to lose their loved team. What fan wants that? He’s put it all out there, plain as day, evidence of how your city could lose their team too. Unless, of course, the collective bargaining agreement is severely altered.
It’s why Stern’s in no rush to sell the Hornets. I mean, if a bunch of Nola-purchasers show up on his doorstep, he’s sure to sell the team back. But, either way, he’s had the ability to parade about his example of NBA finance, and what is wrong with it; he’s made his argument to the public that players are paid too much. And for one, I’m buying into it.
Guaranteed contracts have to go. Max caps need be lowered. The only other options are increased game tickets and concessions. And I can tell you which path gets my vote. In the end, Stern’s game is public relations. He’s won this round. He also gets the moral high ground of having saved the Katrina-plagued Hornets. Which, in part, is why Stern won’t let New Orleans lose the Hornets. He wants this win on his record.
So for all the nay-sayers out there. Keep talking. I’ll keep doing everything I can to save the Hornets. And along the way. I might even find myself grateful to David Stern.