The NBA hasn't learned much since the infamous lockout of 1999. Just off what might be the best season since 1998, the league has forgotten how bad the game had gotten for much of the decade. The league forgot the hit in popularity it took. There were a few factors; Michael Jordan and a host of other 80's and 90's greats stepped away from the game, an uprising of talented players who lacked character (hello Antoine Walker, Rashard Lewis), the league became desperate and extended the first round playoff from three games to four so that they could manufacture the Laker dynasty, and a portrayal of greed across the league. Now that the league has come so far, what exactly is endangering its progression?
One look at the highest paid players of 2010 and I already get a sense of what's wrong with the NBA. The general managers. How exactly is it possible that Rashard Lewis ranks #2 on the list at over $20 million this season? How is it that a nice, complimentary type player, is making elite player money? Michael Redd was paid $18 million dollars this season to do what exactly? Look back at the contracts of Jerome James and Eddie Curry. Is it player greed? Who is anyone to stop a man from going out and getting the most they can for their services. It's the American dream. The problem here is that there are too many high ranking officials who do not know how to build a roster and spend wisely. Why is it that the San Antonio Spurs ranked outside of the top 5 in salary, yet consistently year after year they are able to draft well and piece together very strong rosters. Are they the only team capable of smart decisions? Maybe Billy Beane's next job should be in the NBA. I'd love to see an NBA version of money ball.
Of course that isn't the only problem with this league. Unfortunately the league does need for contraction to happen. The luxury tax is not helping weaker teams. Though David Stern says that the league is set up to assist small market teams, they really should not be watering down the league and taking losses. David Stern should also stop dreaming about an NBA franchise abroad. He has done a great job in the last 25 years growing the league. But his magic has faded and his ambition is almost bad for the league. Contract structures should be reworked. Last season the maximum contract for an unproven rookie was $13.6 million. But the minimum for a ten year vet was $1.4 million. No wonder there are so many bad contracts across the league. The last CBA was built on the premise of a strong economy. This time around both sides need to work out a recession proof CBA that will endure. But the NBA needs to take a hard look at its owners and gm's. They are at the heart of the problem.
Twitter - @DMazzle