Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Cowbell Tolls for Thee: Ana-highway Robbery

The man behind the move

The city of Anaheim, California is doing everything it can to play the part of Clay Bennett in a made for television movie about team relocation. Only the city is not as prone to backroom deals as Bennett was and prefers to air their interests and willing underhandedness out in the open. On Tuesday night the Anaheim city council unanimously voted in favor of a $75 million dollar bond package in yet another attempt to sweeten the deal for a potential move of the Sacramento Kings to their city. It appears that the Mighty Ducks and Angels were just not enough to quench the thirst of the less than 400,000 residents of the suburban city.

However, nothing is set in stone as yet. The Kings’ owners, Joe and Gavin Maloof, have until April 18, after requesting and receiving an extension from the NBA’s Board of Governors, to file the necessary paperwork for relocation.

Despite many believing that the Kings move to Anaheim is all but inevitable at this point, many obstacles could stand in the way of the Maloof’s business dealings. The Kings currently owe the city of Sacramento $77 million from a 1997 loan. Joe Maloof publicly stated that the Kings would repay all the money they owe the city of Sacramento if the team were to relocate.

That statement, however, means little to California state Senator Darrell Steinberg. Steinberg is looking into legislation that could block the Kings move to Anaheim unless they first repay their debt to the city of Sacramento. Clearly, a fight is brewing that will leave wounds for quite some time.

There is one man who looks to gain the most from this whole ordeal and that man is Henry Samueli. Samueli, a billionaire, owns the Mighty Ducks (yes, they have dropped the “mighty” but I grew up watching the movies that the team was invented from so it sticks) and is also manages the Honda Center, where the Mighty Ducks currently play and the future home of the Anaheim Royals. That is if a relocation occurs.

Samueli is pumping in $25 million of his own money to make upgrades to the Honda Center to appease Emperor Stern, who’s only concern is the quality of a facility and not that of basketball. It is not like players are the main attraction of basketball or anything. The upgrades would include new locker rooms and a practice court. On top of that, Samueli is also willing to front another $50 million in relocation fees which would be paid out to the other NBA owners. (Since the NBA currently owns the New Orleans Hornets one can only assume that they will also receive a cut of the relocation fees if and when the Kings eventually move.) Gee, this Samueli sure is a generous guy!

The potential profits that Samueli will stand to make if the Kings relocate are staggering. Being the manager of the Honda Center, he will oversee, and get paid for, 82 regular season games with both the Ducks and Royals combined. That is potentially twice as much revenue being brought into the arena on what would be an almost nightly basis.

Forbes estimated the revenue of the Kings at $103 million for the 2009-10 season. That same season the revenue for the Ducks was placed at $85 million by Forbes. If these numbers were to remain constant and the Kings were to relocate and play in the Honda Center, the combined revenue of these two franchises would net $188 million for the 2011-12 season, barring an NBA lockout, of course.

There is a clearly defined winner and several losers in this whole ordeal. Unfortunately, Sacramento is on the short end of the stick. Everything the Maloof’s are currently doing to secure a move to Anaheim is exactly what they refused to concede in 2006 to the Kings. Toss the Maloofs into the losers column as well. They are giving up everything to try to save their financial lives while alienating an entire fan base that has been loyal since 1986. Kings fans will likely find themselves the bedfellows of Sonics fans in what is sure to be a relationship based on spite.

“I hope we come up with some creative way to replace the cowbell,” Anaheim city council member Kris Murray said after the 5-0 vote in favor of the bond package. Murray must not understand the big picture or just simply has a knack for being coy with the media. Anaheim has already replaced the cowbell, they replaced it with Samueli.

Marcos Breton of the Sacramento Bee reported on the concessions that the Maloofs have made to Samueli in order to help facilitate a move to Anaheim. The brothers Maloof will only net 50 percent of the parking and food and beverage revenue from the arena. They will not have naming rights to the arena, Samueli alone has those. However, if the arena were to change sponsors the Maloofs would be entitled to one-third the money from a new naming deal.

The one pseudo bright spot for the Maloofs is that they will have 100 percent of NBA advertising inside of the arena and would receive 92 percent of the revenue from NBA ticket sales. Yet, they would receive no revenue from NHL games nor any other event or concert held in the arena. Can you guess who will receive the revenue not allocated to the Maloofs in the potential deal to relocate the Kings?

Anaheim should not consider itself a winner if the Kings do in fact move there. They are merely a tertiary element in the whole ordeal. Yes, they have the arena but they do not run it. When the legal squabbling stops and the dust settles Henry Samueli will be the one winning if the Anaheim Royals ever become a reality.

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Jordan to Barnes, UNC: Dump the Kobes

Michael Jordan had some words for the current members of his alma mater’s basketball team, and especially for Harrison Barnes. It is a sneaker thing, people, and Barnes caught the ire of MJ for sporting another player’s signature shoe even though Jordan Brand is the equipment provider for the Tar Heels. In what can be described as borderline blasphemy, Barnes chooses to wear the Nike Zoom Kobe VI on the court…big mistake.

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NBA Doldrums

Only the commentary of Bill Walton can kindle interest in the few remaining games

The last month and a half of the NBA regular season is easily the hardest time to stay interested with the sport. In many ways the games can seem to grow stagnant despite the several recent overtime games that we have witnessed. The excitement of the game just seems to be lost as the end of the regular season draws near.

With the conclusion of the season approaching the focus has shifted to the playoffs. Unfortunately, they are not here yet. This leads to rampant speculation about seeding and matchups which is merely speculation and has no real journalistic value. Yet, this is what the major focus of the news has been for a while other than game recaps and some injury reports. All it does is to serve to muddy the interest in the game with redundancy.

Now, not all outlets are perpetrators of such broken-record reports and there is quite a bit of good writing and reporting coming out of various outlets, it just seems like these pieces have taken a backseat where they were at center stage for a while. Such is life in the 24 hour sports news cycle.

On top of the repetition during these last dozen or so games is the fact that there are outside attractions that are new and fresh to compete with the drawn out season. We are in the midst of the NCAA Tournament. Though college ball has little bearing on the way the game is played on a professional level, it helps to break the monotony. It is a single elimination tournament in which every possession and play can either advance a school or send them packing. While at this point in the NBA every game means very little except to those teams sitting just outside the playoffs who, with the recent play by the Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers, have little hope of making the postseason.

This should be a time when the merits of players are being discussed as the NBA awards are just around the corner. However, this too has grown repetitive as it looks as though many honors were decided some time ago. Derrick Rose will be the MVP, Dwight Howard will be the DPOY, Tom Thibodeau will likely be the COY, and Blake Griffin will be the ROY. The Sixth Man and Most Improved Player awards are the only ones left open for debate it seems.

All of this adds up to a general sense of uninterest. Obviously, not everyone shares these sentiments but they must be acknowledged nonetheless. We are exhausted with the season at this point and need the life of the playoffs to reinvigorate us. There, the excitement returns as the drama of a seven game series unfolds. Do our teams have what it takes to win it all or will they fall by the wayside crushing our spirits and leaving us an emotional wreck for several days? This is what we are all craving, we want the trill to return to the game. We want to see players put it all on the line each play instead of dialing it in.

These last few weeks will not be easy. We will be subjected to the same stories again and again. Yet, if you love the sport you will make do with it because you know what is on the horizon. You know that the second season is near. All you have to do now is sit back, enjoy a few more somewhat meaningless games where seeding is the issue, watch half the league tanking games, listen to Magic Johnson make more terribly biased comments about the Lakers, and wait.

Oh, and whatever you do, try not to think about how there is probably going to be a lockout after this season. That will just ruin the entire ambiance of the playoffs.

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Chocolate Thunder and Dr. J

Sultans of Slam

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New York Nightmare: Melodrama Ch. 2

Wait for it.

This new era for the New York Knicks isn’t exactly starting the way fans had envisioned.  In fact, it’s turning into quite the nightmare.

Frank Isola with the New York Daily News mentioned that Carmelo Anthony’s honeymoon in the Big Apple is over.  Divorce papers aren’t being filed yet but Isola does have a point.

It looked like all fun and games when Melo debuted as a Knick on February 23rd with 27 points and 10 rebounds in a 114-108 win over the lowly Bucks.  However, the high from that game was short lived as they fell to the Cavs two nights later 109-115.   The big three, Amar’e Stoudemire, Chauncey Billups and Melo all had a big night with loaded stat sheets but the worst team in the NBA dropped 115 on them.

They responded with a win over the Heat and later with a win over New Orleans but both are arguably two of the most up and down teams in the league outside of the Knicks themselves.

Since the acquisition, the Knicks have gone 7-8 with back-to-back loses to the Pacers, a loss to the Pistons and an embarrassing defeat handed to them by the very team Melo debuted against, the Bucks.

Philadelphia has passed them in the standings and Atlanta has held onto their spot at fifth in the East easily with this New York team playing so poorly.  Right now, they hold onto the seventh spot in the conference and are poised to match up against either Boston or Chicago in the first round.

It seems inevitable that Mike D’antoni will not be leading this team into the second round and could very well be looking for a new job come summer.

The Melodrama did not end after the trade.

After the 99-95 loss to the Pistons that dropped them behind Philadelphia, Anthony declined speaking with reporters.  During the game, he refused to join one of the huddles and even went on to miss all five of his shots in the fourth quarter.  Stoudemire has mentioned that certain players are having a hard time adjusting to D’antoni’s system and we all know who he is talking about…

However, I can’t imagine why it would be Carmelo since he’s shooting 44.3 percent from the field with 24 points and 6 rebounds a game as a Knick.

It’s understandable why Amar’e is defending the D’antoni system that he has been playing under his entire career; however, this may be a sign that the days of all shoot and no defense are numbered in the NBA.

His Phoenix Suns will forever go down as the team that never really accomplished much other than a trip to the Western Conference Finals and some MVP trophies for Steve Nash.  They puttered out every season in the playoffs due to their style of play.

Now, he is enforcing the same system in New York but with even less depth.  Against the Bucks, the bench only mustered 13 points and went 5-20 from the field.  Their secondary unit is ranked 26th in the league with just over 25 a night.  The longest tenured player on the team is Toney Douglas in his second season with New York and they lost one of their most talented players in Raymond Felton during the trade.

It’s a simple case of too much too soon for these Knicks that are also giving up 106 points a night since acquiring Anthony.  You know you have a problem when the Milwaukee Bucks drop 100 on you when they are ranked last in the league in scoring at 91 a game.  By the way, their bench had only two points against New York.

Even Melo has stated that it will take some time and he’s right.  We all saw how slow it took Miami to finally start clicking and the same is true for New York.  Their offensive system is different for both Billups and Melo but with the way things are going, that may be changing soon.  New York is a high drama team performing in the world’s spotlight so of course they are going to get some flack for losing all these gimmies.

The Knicks will not be bringing the title home this year and a first-round upset is not in their cards.  You can buy titles these days but they may need to wait until next year.

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Blake Griffin’s incredible dunk that didn’t count

Blake Griffin had a MONSTAR dunk over Phoenix’s center Marcin Gortat.

Gortat, there’s good news and bad news.  Good news is that the bucket didn’t count.  Bad news is that people will be gawking at this amazing dunk that just so happened to embarrass you.

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Filed under 2010-11 Regular Season, NBA at Large, Players

Paul Pierce is a monster

Last night, the Celtics may have lost to the Nets 79-88 but at least Paul Pierce had this monster dunk that embarrassed both Sasha Vujacic and Kris Humphries.

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