Trash Talk: The NBA’s Insane Money Grab Scheme

I really don’t have a lot for this week, but there is this: The National Basketball Association is desperate to join the Grand Reopening. And boy is it a doozy. Via ESPN:

“the NBA’s board of governors overwhelmingly approved a proposal for 22 teams to return to play, starting July 31 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Before the NBA can come back, teams must reassemble in their home markets. That means bringing back players who left for their hometowns — or, in some cases, home countries — while the league sorted out its plans. Players who return from overseas are likely to be subject to a two-week quarantine upon arrival, under current federal rules.
Teams will continue to hold individual workouts in their facilities. A training camp will start June 30 and last a week. All teams will fly to Orlando on July 7, three weeks before the restart of the season. They will likely have to quarantine for some period; Florida law requires people flying in from some states, including New York, to quarantine for 14 days.”

Orlando you say? Yep, they are all going to DisneyWorld to live and play in a “bubble”! The 22 teams include six, including the Phoenix Suns, that were not in playoff contention when the season was stopped. Why, you ask? Well it is literally as simple as more teams equals more games to broadcast, and therefore more money to make for the plantation owners of the NBA. A group that is all white with the exception of Charlotte’s Michael Jordan, Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé, who is Indian and Joseph Tsai of the Brooklyn Nets. The players they are summonsing to live and play in the bubble are, of course, about 75% black.

But there are some problems, of course. One is the players:

“In a string of tweets on Wednesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski outlined conversations that were taking place over the last couple of days including a large group of “several dozen” players who believe resuming play in Orlando is a bad idea.

According to Wojnarowski, because of the dissenting views, the NBA and NBPA are likely to agree on a provision in which players would not be required to join their respective teams for the restart of the season. The two sides are working toward an agreement that would not include disciplinary action for players who choose to stay home, though they would lose a portion of their salary for games missed.”

Yeah, while players want to play theoretically, who wants to live in a bubble far away from home, with limited, if any fun, friends and nightlife so the league can rake in some bucks off of TV revenue? And probably little to no family contact. There will, of course, be no fans and players and coaches will be Carona tested every day. Older coaches may not be allowed, which would be horrid, and, frankly, probably a violation of age discrimination protections.

There are a LOT more issues too, starting with how Covid secure will “the bubble” actually be? It might work. It might t not. There are a lot of moving parts on that. As to those parts and all the other problems, this article by Zach Lowe at ESPN is really good, and I urge you to take a read of it.

It will be really interesting to see how this plays out. Were I an NBA player, I think I’d take a pass on this harebrained scheme and say see you next year guys.

Well, that’s it. The Zach Lowe piece really is a worth a read to get the full picture. Today’s music is, of course, Roundball Rock, one of the best sports theme songs ever. Yeah, I know, it is John Tesh, but with a full big band, and it is pretty good. Hoop it up folks!

77 replies
  1. Stephen Calhoun says:

    I get the idea that the NBA would be hermetically sealed against any infection from the outside, but shit happens. Yeah, “it might not work.” What would unfold if this season got underway and a player tested positive? Presumably his entire team and, perhaps, an opposing team he played against would be in the contact chain.

    The same question would be applicable to MLB and the NFL. The particle and droplet count in respiratory aerosol for people vigorously exercising is a much bigger number than simple breathing or talking.

    • bmaz says:

      The thing that gets me is, a lot of these guys are pretty well off, why screw with it even if you stayed Corona safe? Also, almost no sport is as juiced up by noisy fans in close proximity as the NBA is. And that energy feeds them a lot. Games without fans are basically scrimmages.

      It is pretty clear though that if it doesn’t end in disaster, the NFL will play, Formula 1 will return and probably MLB.

      • Peterr says:

        almost no sport is as juiced up by noisy fans in close proximity as the NBA is.

        Any US sport, that is.

        The Bundesliga has restarted with Geistspiele — “ghost games” — with no fans present. One of their more thoughtful coaches, Christian Streich, (perhaps akin to the NBA’s Gregg Popovich) gave an interview to the NY Times, and noted that the absence of fans actually were the opposite of “basically scrimmages”:

        But to Germany’s powerful organized fan groups, the very idea of playing soccer when fans are not allowed into stadiums — or even to gather in groups to watch on television — was anathema. To them, this was the final squeeze of the lemon. Soccer without fans, in their eyes, is not soccer at all.

        Streich, though, did not find the return as awkward as might have been expected. It did not undermine his belief that soccer cannot be destroyed by those who would exploit it. On the day that Germany’s lockdown restrictions had eased sufficiently enough to enable his players to train as a group, he was struck by the look on their faces.

        “They’re economically rich,” he said. “But they were so happy. They love this game. There is no player on the pitch who thinks about the money all the time.”

        They all started playing, after all, for the sport itself; that was what carried them through the arduous hours of practice, long before anyone offered to pay them.

        Note that what the Bundesliga is doing is very different than the “bring everyone to DisneyWorld, lock them in, and shoot some hoops to pay the bills” that the NBA is proposing.

        The whole piece is very much worth reading.

    • Bob Zentrails says:

      Yep, same with the NCAA. They are having BB and FB players report to their universities now, but the universities want Congress to pass covid lawsuit immunity, priorities.

      I would think that one positive also would end an NCAA team’s participation for two weeks at least. How is that supposed to work exactly?

      • Rugger9 says:

        Especially as we get later into the season when the big games are scheduled, let’s say for example OSU-Michigan where a Buckeye or two tests positive the week before. There will be no time to reschedule a game likely to affect participation in the Big 10 championship and potentially the championship game. The Iron Bowl is a week before the SEC championship in another game likely to have implications about who plays the next week. That’s even before March Madness where games are being played right before Selection Sunday in the evening.

        Only if the teams can guarantee the bubble works will this process succeed. Otherwise, it will be problematic.

        So, how is the KBO doing on their restart?

  2. Ed Walker says:

    I had a share of season tickets for the Bulls games this year, six games, shared with a friend. We saw four games. Where’s my refund? I don’t care if they keep the part necessary to pay the players and the people who work the games, but the idea that Jerry Reinsdorf gets to keep my money makes my skin crawl. The team wasn’t fun to watch, except as the Washington Generals, where the attraction is the other team.

    I know these guys love the game, and I love to watch, but I hope the players just say no. I can wait til next year, all us Cubs fans know the drill.

    • Peterr says:

      Yet another example of “privatize the profits, socialize the costs.”

      Reinsdorf and company have no problem reaping in the tv revenues and such when things are good, but when things are rough they want the players to take a pay cut.

  3. BobCon says:

    I don’t think the owners understand how many of the players in today’s NBA are devoted family guys. The culture of the pro sport has shifted a lot over the past thirty years, and it’s not an act when you see guys like Curry and LBJ showing enormous pride in their kids and speaking out about raising them the right way.

    Cooking up this kind of scheme is going to anger a lot of stars.

    • Peterr says:

      It’s not that the owners don’t understand; it’s that they don’t care. And because they are the owners, they think they get to make the rules for everyone else, and all shall obey without question.

      Ask Donald Sterling how that worked out for him.

      There’s a difference between owning a team and owning players. If the players get the notion that the owners look at them as property and not people, I predict it will end badly for the owners. Very badly. Bigly badly, even.

        • Peterr says:

          Yes. All it cost them was being publicly outed as ugly racists, and they got thrown out of the very exclusive club of NBA owners.

          That’s gotta leave a mark. Maybe the money will soothe the pain, but it’s painful nevertheless.

      • BobCon says:

        I think they mostly care a lot about keeping on the good side of stars — the last thing they want to do is send a top free agent to another team.

        But I also think they are often pretty clueless. Not as bad as the NFL, but you have teams like the Sixers and Knicks which are run by guys only loosely connected to the real world.

  4. Pete Shanks says:

    Speaking as a Warriors fan … go for it, guys, we’ll see you next season, fit and healthy and with a very good draft pick.

  5. vvv says:

    I can’t help but think of the issues involved with keeping the players and others in the bubble. I mean, “hookers and blow” is an over-used but funny meme but the concept of keeping these young, competitive athletes under lock and key – Jordan was just recently talking in that ESPN special about the Bulls’ cocaine use when he first joined. Illegal habits aside, what about bad habits, plain old social habits, among guys who are celebrities, sometimes even for their brand of rebellion?

    • BobCon says:

      Jordan’s NBA is not today’s NBA. There is still drug use, but it tends toward recreational and therapeutic pot rather than harder drugs. Guys are a lot more committed toward training, diet and sleep. Clubbing still happens, but it is way down.

      The bigger issue is that more guys don’t want to disrupt theur home lives. Larry Bird would shrug off leaving his family for an indeterminate amount of time. That’s a much harder sell today.

  6. MB says:

    Not mentioned above, but in an article in the LA Times from this morning is the additional consideration that some players believe returning to play will distract from the BLM movement and the fight for racial equality and police reform.

    Plus being locked down inside the Disney World complex in Orlando during the restarted season is bound to be a pretty strange experience…

    • Ed Walker says:

      That’s sure sounds right to me. I saw Jemele Hill on some cable thing saying that one reason for the mass outpouring is that people don’t have their usual distractions, including sports, and many are suddenly really watching news of the massive protests.

      • Sonso says:

        Professional sports has been a huge paralytic when it comes to protest in the street. Once you remove the adolescent attachment to ‘your team’ and recognize the plantation industry structure it becomes easier to drop the habit.

  7. prostratedragon says:

    Irrelevant but odd little thing: I used to regularly encounter John Tesh in Central Park or along Riverside Drive, he on his run and I on my power walk — you can’t miss him, he’s about 6-6. For some reason we were always going in opposite directions. He always had a pleasant greeting to exchange.

    As to the subject, sounds like a big and risky hassle that doesn’t even benefit the various local businesses and services that rely on the traffic from NBA games. Hoping to open in the Fall as usual would be more sensible.

    • P J Evans says:

      I’ve seen people who are in the 7-foot range. I’m about 5 ft – I barely clear their elbows. (The first one I met was in college – the drum major for the marching band. He was 6ft9 without the hat, and had to duck to go under the stands.)

      • Peterr says:

        I grew up in a college town, and one day my sister’s first grade teacher announced to class that she was going to be going to the hospital the next day for some routine tests, and her “little boy” was going to be their substitute teacher. He was an Education major at the college training to be a teacher himself, she explained, and she thought they would like him.

        He was the 6’11” center on the basketball team. The first graders could (and did!) walk through his legs without ducking at all.

        My sister and all of her classmates were sooooooo amazed.

    • bmaz says:

      Just call it a day and start in the fall is what I think too. Assuming it is even feasible then.

  8. quebecois says:

    Here’s an idea, take that B, change it from Basketball to Bowling.

    More distanciation, no one running into anyone anymore.

    Doesn’t need fans to be noisy.

    One ball per player.

    I’ll stop now.

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      I think this is a very good idea and there would genuinely be a large market to watch famous NFL, NBA players competitively bowl or play croquet.

    • Peterr says:

      Not to burst your bubble, but the in-person fans at the Professional Bowlers Association tour competitions are incredibly loud.

      • P J Evans says:

        The two times I’ve been in bowling alleys, they were quite loud – you’d have to yell to be heard.

        • Eureka says:

          Yeah they are dens of din, and rife with celebratory moments, even sans beer and brats and such. I was in a league once … we won first place, and I won Most Improved Bowler (and this was against plenty of teams that included old ladies, the _real_ toughs on the bowling scene). The bittersweet part was that the league decided to forgo trophies, gave out cash in lieu… which was excitingly handy at the time, but my bowling trophies only exist in story form.

          COVID-rules bowling (isolated; no chatter, yelling) might be sadder than _Bowling Alone_.

          • P J Evans says:

            The second time, it was with friends, for a charity for Crohn’s/colitis. Noisy, and fun watching kids under 6 trying to do it. Let’s just say that the rules were on the relaxed side.

  9. dakine01 says:

    We already know that most professional sports owners are greedy parasites, leeching off of others. These type of reopen proposals only go to reinforce that perspective

  10. Eureka says:

    Anything that starts in the fall will be aborted by tragedy, if not sense.

    ^ Works as a koan, not just a hot-take (or are they the same thing?).

    We are not an island, and however leagues try to recreate island effects …well, good luck with all that.

    FYI scribe:

    As to Trump’s scriptwriters trawling EW for ideas, in a recent interview Trump claimed that his “When the looting starts…” quote was from …. Frank Rizzo! He was lying like a rug throughout (including elsewhere about not knowing Juneteenth in Tulsa would be offensive), which makes it more a meta-level commentary on the minions propping-up his mental status and Confederate General image.

    Trump incorrectly cites former Philly mayor Frank Rizzo for racist phrase aimed at protesters on Fox News interview

    (^ links/excerpts some 2016 articles comparing the two narcissists)

    Video clip:

    • P J Evans says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Trmp really didn’t know about Juneteenth and the Greenwood murders. (I was under the impression that Juneteenth was a Texas thing, not all the former confederate states.)

      • Eureka says:

        I’m talking about him *nodding vigorously, Yes,* as he says No/ denies knowing how offensive it would be on Juneteenth or whether it was intentional or whatever started that volley of the interview (seen in a different @acyn or Rupar clip). So, sure, he knows not the specifics of others’ pain, but his schedulers sure do and he gets off on it when they fill him in. (Similar with the irony that yes, as scribe had introduced the topic, Trump likely would have been impressed by Rizzo’s tough-guy talk back in the day — but in the clip above where Trump tries to claim Rizzo as the source of that quote, he is also lying. Hence why I cited his scriptwriters trawling EW, and said it was more a commentary on his status(es)-propping minions).

        Juneteenth is marked with many celebrations in these parts of a Union state. As I was taught, it’s a national holiday — the belated, last word out to the last slaves that they were free.

        • P J Evans says:

          Parscale is now claiming that 800K people have signed up for the rally. He said the quiet part out loud in his boasting tweet: “a big data haul”.

          • FL Resister says:

            800,000 people responded for Trump’s rally in Tulsa? I wonder how many will pack into an enclosed space without masks to cheer Trump on.

              • P J Evans says:

                Tulsa only has 400K people, so they aren’t going to have anyplace to put 800K. The campaign is advertising on Craig’s List for minority actors to hold signs – for $10 an hour.

                • MB says:

                  I took the 800k number as blusterous nonsense from the get-go. But even 19,000 inside the arena (assuming the pent-up demand for attending Trump rallies is at fever pitch) and every seat is accounted for, that’s scary enough. I’m imagining giant plexiglass sneeze guards in front of the speaker’s podium and stage area…

                  And I wonder whether all 19,000 will sign that liability waver that’s being required of them…

      • Rayne says:

        It’s not a state thing. It’s celebrated among the black community which can be anywhere in the country. I learned about it from black friends here in Michigan, though most of their families had emigrated from Mississippi and Louisiana for auto industry jobs during the Great Migration.

      • John Paul Jones says:

        It doesn’t really matter whether Trump knows or not. He’s the President; that’s what he has a staff for, to figure this s**t out. My own speculation would be that some of those staff members (Stephen Miller maybe? who was rumoured to be writing a speech on race and reconciliation for Trump?) knew very well what day it was, and that’s why they chose it. And in case anyone still thinks it was a co-incidence, a gaffe, an oopsie moment, why choose Tulsa, in June, 101 years after the worst race massacre in US history? In matters like this, there are no coincidences, only failures of perception.

        • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

          It was absolutely Miller and anyone in the admin unfamiliar with the Tulsa massacre would have learned about it as soon as the outrage started.

          • Tom says:

            Will Trump ban the display of the Stars and Bars at his June 20th rally? He’ll be damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. I doubt he will though, in fact I expect there will be plenty of Confederate flag waving MAGA supporters on hand, in which case Trump really will be branding himself as the last President of the Confederacy, as Eugene Robinson wrote in the Washington Post a few days ago.

          • Tracy Lynn says:

            I had the impression Miller chose Tulsa and Juneteenth to jack up BLM protests — that way, cops and the racist base could come out and break heads of protesters triggered by Trump’s speech.

        • P J Evans says:

          99 years.
          (My grandparents had moved out of the Tulsa area before that – they’d been a couple of miles outside the city, on the Broken Arrow highway.)

      • Eureka says:

        I find it pleasantly portentous that Trump’s scriptwriters are a day late and a dollar short (as the kids would say, #trumpisoverparty).

        After that, now what?

        One era’s trash is another archaeologist’s or art historian’s job:

        7:30 AM – June 15, 2020
        Vigilantes, some carrying baseball bats and metal poles, ‘defended’ Columbus statue over the weekend

        6:50 PM – June 15, 2020
        Vigilantes surround Christopher Columbus statue for third day

        8:51 PM – June 15, 2020
        Mayor Kenney calls for public process to decide fate of Columbus statue

        (Fretting over) The destruction or removal of statuary and other public art continues apace, as per within-group* regime change for time immemorial (*not talking conquistadores or ‘outsiders’ here). Those physical representations usually mirror other social changes, so we’ll see.

        • Eureka says:

          Adding some perspective, which makes this even sadder: just like no one was coming for the South Philly Tar-jay store (which was preemptively guarded in any case — and by the police, too — a couple weekends ago), per repeated news reports no one seemed particularly interested in either of the city’s two Columbus statues. “Social media rumors” (+/- needing to be needed?) prompted them to take up arms at this South Philly installation.

  11. laura says:

    We’ve been getting by watching used baseball and it’s…..okay.
    Right now, I’d rather hear from athletes who are using their voices instead of their bodies than the pissy owners trying to salvage what may be left of a season with ill thought out plans for health and safety. I’m sure that the men and women who have the ancillary jobs in facilities maintenance and concessions have been hit the hardest by job loss and the tender mercies of congressional idiots worried that unemployment insurance disincentivizes return to work.
    If I was in charge I’d scrap this year entirely, keep paying the laid off workers and go into the vaults and pull out all the episodes of Wide World of Sports and reshow them on network television a couple 2, 3 times a week. Who among us could say no to barrel jumping and bad plaid suits and side burns?

  12. Re entry says:

    For the motorsport fan, if you pour a cup of skittles in a flushing toilet and squint.. it resembles nascar

    Open wheel racing is harder to replicate

  13. Savage Librarian says:

    I think Mike Flynn is worried that his soul is constipated. This morning Marcy pointed out that he has a new ghostwritten opinion piece in the Western Journal. The first sentence in it is:
    “There are seminal moments in American history that test every fiber of our nation’s soul.”

    Hmm. I didn’t know that souls do fiber. But, like Trump, I think this is a projection of the crooks’ own worries. I wonder if they prefer bran or oats. And what brand. Rasputin, maybe?

  14. Mosey says:

    I have been following the NHL plans for a similar scheme as the NBA. In the case of the NHL, Damian Cox (@damospin) has written about the extreme lengths Gary Bettman is willing to go through to get the 2019-20 season “completed” because if they don’t, NBC gets next year’s broadcast rights at this seasons rate, this being what would have been the final year of the teevee broadcast contract. NHL is only putting on this dangerous Stanley Cup imitation tourney so that they can rake in bigger bucks on the next broadcast contract. They have not made any statements in regards to how much damage would be done to the leagues reputation if a star player or two dies from covid but hey they will deal with that later. Ha!
    I am not a big NBA fan but I thought they have a similar broadcasting contract which also was supposed to expire right around now. Deepthroat was right, follow the money. Cuz that is all, there is no care for the players long term safety. Just short term care for money money money.
    Add: I do not think the optics are good if millionaire athletes get tested every single day for 6-8 weeks while millions cannot get one. Even my wife, a home health nurse had to beg our family physician to get her a test…my wife’s hospital sure as heck is not testing it’s own employees. Do we really need spirts right now?

    • bmaz says:

      They all have those contracts. And all will still lose giant money, but they are desperately trying to mitigate it as much as possible, no matter how stupid it is.

      • fikshun says:

        It’s interesting to see the contrast between the two leagues’ players’ unions. The NHLPA pushed for re-seeding per round. There wasn’t a lot of talk about players not wanting to come back, though I’m sure there’s some of that. The NHL hasn’t settled on which city or cities they plan to use for the playoffs, though Las Vegas has been getting a lot of talk.

        Assuming both leagues do indeed go through with their playoffs, it’ll be strange. It’s one thing to play regular season games or friendlies. Imagine a playoff game 7 in an empty arena. Imagine a team claiming the Stanley Cup. Would the players skate the cup around the ice, shaking it at empty seats?

        How many positive tests would it take to shut down the playoffs? What if all the positive tests are confined to one team?

  15. Nehoa says:

    I played full court basketball until I was 58. Obviously no fans, just us. We all lived for that. That impulse will be there with the NBA players 10x.

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