Improving the NBA Owner Roster

Remarking the other day about the status of the CBA talks, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver asserted that, “We need a sustainable business model that allows all thirty teams to be able to compete for a championship.” Translated, without cutting player salaries, benefits and their BRI, some franchises just can’t win championships.

But is the lack of a “sustainable business model” the reason why the Kings haven’t appeared in a NBA Finals for sixty years, why the Hawks haven’t been to a Finals for forty-nine, why the Clippers haven’t been to a Finals for all of its forty-two, why the small market Knicks haven’t been to a Finals for thirty-eight, and why the Nuggets haven’t been to a Finals for all of its thirty-four? Does the lack of a “sustainable business model” also explain the Suns’ forty-three year Finals winless drought, the Cavs’ forty-one, the Jazz’s and Bucks’ thirty-seven each, the Warriors’ thirty-six, the Nets’ and Pacers’ thirty-five each, and the Wizards’ thirty-two? Are these and some other franchises–all abject failures when it comes to winning a Championship–all victims of the lack of a “sustainable business model”? Or is there another explanation?

In 1984, the same year David Stern became the NBA Commissioner, there were twenty-three teams. There are now thirty. Since then only three teams have had no change of ownership (i.e., the Pacers, Lakers and Clippers), during which time Mr. Stern has presided over the selection of forty-seven new owners (some teams have had multiple ownership changes), including ten in just the last seven years alone. Add to these destabilizing, musical chair numbers the enormous turnover in GM’s over the same period, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that abject franchise failures such as those cited above are not due to the lack of a “sustainable business model” but are instead due to the poor selection of some extremely wealthy owners who have come and gone by the dozens, treated their “purchases” as toys and corporate “divisions” instead of endeavors, and demonstrated huge ineptness when it’s come to running a successful NBA Basketball Team.

Given the millions and billions at their disposal and the hugely increasing popularity of the sport resulting in greater and greater all-around revenues, we’re tired of hearing from the League and some of its owners about small markets, player salaries, benefits, BRI, salary caps (hard/soft), etc., as excuses for their own abject failures. Bottom line, they need to stop their whining, finger pointing and coordinated money-grabbing attempts and focus their efforts with the assistance of the Commissioner–or a new one with a keener basketball eye for selecting owners–on developing a “sustainable ownership model” that improves their roster.

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