Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Well-Known Truth

Quick, read this article.
Ok, the retort to the story is quite easy: Fucking duh, people.

The NBA needs money. Look at the ridiculous contracts that are out there:
Kevin Garnett: $22,000,000...this season.
Kobe Bryant: $20,000,000...this season.
Steve Nash: $11,375,000...this season.
The top 50 guys all make AT LEAST ten million each.

As for teams, well the Dallas Mavericks, according to
Hoops Hype (I'm told it is a reputable source), have a team salary of 105 million dollars. That's twelve guys for 8.75 million each (though one player, Jason Kidd, makes almost twenty million).

It's no wonder that Donaghy may have received orders. It makes perfect sense.

The ref keeps star players and tosses the "role players" (who have the role of being tossed). Because the stars are playing, the people are watching at home and in the stands, which means that more concessions (such as, oh...I don't know...beer) are being bought.

This generates revenue, which is needed to keep the league going. If the stars are out, no one watches, which means TV ads aren't sold, concessions aren't bought, and "gear" is not purchased (we'll get to that in a minute).
However, this is nothing new. For years, people talked about how Michael Jordan got favored by the refs. In 1995, for example, Jordan held Hersey Hawkins (a player for the then Charlotte Hornets). This was to stop Hawkins from making a winning layup that would have sent the playoff series back to Charlotte. Jordan ADMITTED that he held Hawkins. He put his hands in the air to signal to refs and announcers that he should be charged with the foul, but nothing happened. Why? Because he was the biggest star in the league at the time. Hawkins even had a funny take on it: "It's Michael Jordan, and I'm Hersey Hawkins." (By the way...Just in case you don't know who Hawkins is.)

It was good for business to have Jordan play more. People would be more likely to watch Jordan, because he could fly. My mother, for example, called him handsome and enjoyed watching his acrobatics. I used to go to Knick games with my sister, and the Knicks/Bulls matchups were always standing room only. No other team did that (and the Knicks, good as they were, still sucked then too).

Now, the way to tell who the calls will be for can be seen in sales. Kobe Bryant is the number one selling jersey in the world. People call him the next Jordan. He makes people get in the stands and watch the game. This means...he will not be called for fouls. Last year, for example, he had a flagrant foul, but he didn't sit out for it. The league ruled that it wasn't intentional. Just like Jordan, they had to keep him going.

As the NBA Finals go on this year, the league is hoping for a long series. Boston and Los Angeles are very popular, so it makes sense.

Don't think for a minute this is solely in the NBA. We just know that one dirty referee is stepping up and saying that executives are calling the shots. Look at each of the other major sports.

NFL: Top jersey sales:

1. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
3. Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers
4. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
5. LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers

All of them were in the playoffs. Both Romo and Brady constantly had calls help them. Didn't make it to the end zone? Um...there was pass interference. One NFL exec last year said the Super Bowl would be the best if Peyton Manning and Tom Brady could both play in it. If not that...then Romo and Brady would be best. The Giants and Patriots was called, "Unsexy."

The point is that the main stars are constantly helped in some way...even though it is a team sport. Detroit has no one, and you don't see the refs favoring them. I'm just saying....

NHL: Top Sales of Jerseys

1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins. No surprise here as he is the next Gretzky (a man who always got the call), but it is interesting that he, at the tender age of 20, is now protected by the refs.

2. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals. Same thing as Crosby, though Ovechkin was called for checking Crosby once.

You get the idea. Pittsburgh made it to the finals this year, where they lost to one of the top selling teams of all time: The Detroit Red Wings.

This has always been true in hockey. You couldn't check Gretzky. In the nineties, you couldn't check Peter Forsberg, Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, or Martin Brodeur (a goalie who interfered with players, but got away with it).


The New York Yankees were the perennial, but Boston has surpassed them in some ways. In the United States, it's cool to like and own Boston gear and HATE the Yankees, but if you go outside the U.S., the Yankees are numero uno. In Japan, it's by a landslide. Heck, even vendors in Paris carry New York Yankee caps. What does this tell you? Well, the top teams (Boston, New York) are always in the playoffs. On those teams are some of the top players in the game. If the strike zone happens to shrink while they are batting...it's called a personal zone for the ump...but what if it isn't? What if the ump is told to help certain players. Ken Griffey Jr just hit his 600th home run. It sure was nice that it was done when everyone could see it and watch and cheer.

So if you're a PR or Marketing person, how do you fix this? Months ago, the commissioner of basketball, David Stern, made loud, angry speeches denouncing Donaghy and said the league was clean. Um, oops? Does he lose some credit now?
How does one spin this?
"Um, yes, it may have happened, but it's how new stars are made. You see, if a player can overcome the calls, then he deserves to be considered elite. So, he'll start getting those calls, and you'll cheer as he attempts to overcome. David and Goliath, folks. David and Goliath."
The bottom line is that if you are at all surprised by the idea that people get preferential treatment, then you don't live in the real world. Outside of sports, some people get a boss' attention, some students get a little bump from a teacher, and some people have different rules to follow.
This is the way life is, so find a way to get those calls, ladies and gentlemen.
Of course what do I know? I've been ignoring refs all my life (not unlike Bill Laimbeer). I could be wrong.


Anonymous said...

You're back! So good to have you back Ironic- your insights have been missed.

You're dead on- it'd be no surprise the various leagues are monkeying with who advances in the playoffs. It's all about revenue baby.

Can't wait to see what you tackle (if the NFL will let you) next.

Decayed Athlete said...

Welcome back, Ironic! A pleasure to read you again.
Maybe it's time for sports to be called sports and professional sports to be called business entertainment. Similarly, why not an all-drug-enhanced Olympics? No wonder that people are going to minor-league games -- that's the only way you can see real sports today. While it is true that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, it is just as true that money corrupts and tons of money.... So maybe professional sports on TV just needs a crawl running across the bottom of your screen reading "business, entertainment, this is not really a sports game being played here" and similar.

Evan Lee said...

Glad your back!

Couple of points, though:

Mike Vick sold more jerseys from 2004-2006 then anyone else, yet the Falcons never got 'the calls' as I saw it: and I watched every game....

In the MLB, smaller market teams like The Rays and Marlins make do without big roster players....I think that the highly paid athlete's usually perform better in clutch situations then the lower paid ones, yet the smaller market temas are making this argument hard for me...

As for the NHL: any sport that has french candians as it's feeder system should be boycotted out of hand:-)

And: The NBA has become like Euro soccer with all the flopping done by the new Euroweenies invading the sport:-)