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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 20, 2011 10:26 PM. The previous post in this blog was Make up your own joke. The next post in this blog is Oregon "lottery" has no time to listen to taxpayers. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

NBA labor talks take bizarre turn for worse

The contentious negotiations between the American pro hoops league and its players' union broke down again today, and now it appears that at least the first half of the season is not going to happen. The union reportedly walked out after the team owners, in a highly questionable move, sent Blazers owner Paul Allen into the mediation session to tell the players off.

We are not making this up:

But this time the trouble wasn't caused as much by the disagreement on the two main issues -- the revenue split and the salary-cap system. No, the real fireworks involved an alleged attitude the owners brought into Thursday's meeting in Manhattan after what Silver called a "robust'' Board of Governors meeting in the morning, which involved heated discussions about improving the revenue-sharing plan.

"Something happened in that Board of Governors meeting,'' Kessler said.

Without Stern in the room -- though he was said to be in constant communication with the owners' side via conference call -- Silver was joined by Spurs owner Peter Holt, chairman of the labor relations committee. But there was a surprise guest, Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen.

Said Kessler: "We were told Paul Allen was here to express the views of the other Board of Governors and that view was, 'It's our way or the highway.' ''

The owners really have to be kidding. They let Allen do his hardnosed-businessman act? You couldn't come up with a less effective way of making money if you tried.

Here in Portland, we remember vividly when Allen marched into then-Mayor Tom Potter's office with his dopey spiel, "The economic model is broken." He actually expected a local taxpayer handout. The mayor laughed and wisely showed him the door.

Then there was the time that Allen started playing hardball with the pension funds that held the mortgage on his Rose Garden arena. He pouted, whined, and threw his arena corporation into bankruptcy, trying to get out of the bad interest rate he signed up for, but it didn't get him anywhere at all. The mortgage holders took over the building and waited him out. Eventually he caved in completely.

Then he was putting the Blazers up for sale -- remember that? We're not sure whom that was supposed to impress, but it too was a meaningless gesture.

There's something about Allen's business demeanor that seems to alienate everyone who sits across the table from him. But they don't give in, and eventually he backs off. He's got a terrible track record as an investor and as a judge of people. If he's the owners' mouthpiece -- if league commissioner David Stern doesn't get off his sickbed and put Allen back in the box immediately -- it's a virtual certainty that there will be no season at all. And in the end, the players might get a deal to their liking.

Comments (29)

He's got a terrible track record as an investor and as a judge of people.

And as a businessman. He got lucky by hitching his wagon to the right horse (Bill Gates), but virtually everything he's done since leaving Microsoft has been a complete failure.

I remember the 90's when I really liked this guy...

I'm bumming about the season. I think if you're a big business owner and you aren't going for an obscene slice of the action, you can hardly bear to show your face at the club anymore.

David Stern sucks. The owners suck. If this really is a global brand with TV contracts in all these countries, how can there possibly not be enough to make everyone happy? I think upper management has bought in to today's corporate model: Ownership is supposed to be screwing the workers. It's the way of the world.

How much can it cost to buy gym shorts and a few headbands for a couple of hundred guys? The bleak economic picture the owners are talking about, just doesn't add up. I think there's something punitive about their approach.

One thing that does crack me up though is this idea that Paul Allen only really succeeded once. Okay, it may be true but if that one success makes you one of richest people in the world, isn't that enough?
I mean, what's his current wealth? Around 13 billion dollars?
Okay, let's say he was a super successful business man who tried 13 different ventures and made a million at each one. That sounds really successful, doesn't it? A million bucks! They'd be calling him a huge success - a guy with the golden touch.

Well, he'd have to do that 1,000 times to be where Paul Allen is today - the guy who only succeeded once.

To play devils advocate, 50+% revenue to the players does sound rediculus with all the other costs of the arenas, the coaching staff, sales and promo people, transportation and lodging on the road, huge marketing expenses.

It's no wonder a lot of teams are hemmoraging money.

Let the whole league collapse, please. I'd rather watch college sports any day.

Here's one sentence that jumped out of one news story to indicate the financial health of the league: The Washington Wizards were bought for $551 million last year.
That's a lot of bread for a league that acts like they're one headband away from losing it all.

Paul had the same amount of M$FT founders stock as Bill Gates. Bill is worth $50B, Paul less than a third. Paul has never had a successful business outside of MSFT. Paul's best business decision ever was to let Bill drive the MS bus and just go for the ride.

Paul Allen does for business what Whitley Strieber's "Deliverance: The Next Generation" novels did for SETI, and lower than that I can't get.

Paul is the GW Bush of the capitalism's digital era: Somehow, he got a walk to third base and thinks he hit a triple. Even worse, Paul keeps getting thrown out trying to steal second.

Paul might just be bored. Maybe he needs to find another money-losing idea to busy himself if there's going to be an NBA season. Sam Adams to the rescue?

I thought he made a great decision buying the guitars of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. That's exactly what I would have done.

Living here all my life the Blazers are a team I have closely followed and supported. I was there to see them win the championship, and I have attended games when the place was nearly empty.

As the years passed I watched players extort millions in cash earnings while behaving badly. Meanwhile, a billionaire owner went on charging me a hundred bucks or so per seat, eight bucks for a glass of beer, and twenty bucks for parking. C’mon!

So when news of the lockout started to emerge, I have to admit I was secretly delighted, not upset. A demonstration of how sheer greed on two sides can bring about an epic downfall. Let the owners fail and begin again, this time with the fans in mind. Let existing players try to use that unearned college degree to go get a real job.

I would love to start over with players who love to play for the love of the game. Re-organize, reset the priorities, and bring a team to town that we respect and can afford to watch, and ultimately want to cheer for.

If our local universities would get off their dead butts and promote their basketball programs, the Blazers wouldn't be the only hot ticket in local winter sports. Many commenter’s to this post are familiar with the workings of the local media and know how easy this would be.

There has also been a lot of discussion from the NBA about how the working guy will be negatively affected. How so many depend on the jobs that the NBA season provides. A kind of "it's for the children" approach.

Well guess what? Those jobs are provided by one of two ways. Poor saps like me paying through the nose for a seat. Or, corporate seats that are often fully deductible as an business expense. Thus, fewer taxes collected to help the working class.

Has Allen made any good business decisions since he left Microsoft?

Maybe having a nerdy best friend isn't a scalable business strategy.

Gee, does this mean that alll those dribblers will be joining the 99 percenters? Boo-hoo!

Stripped bare (isn't that a whale of an image?), Allen is a computer geek who got lucky. He has little business acumen and even less people/social skills. For all the "aren't we lucky to have the richest owner in pro sports" talk, I consider his ownership of the Blazers to be more of a curse than a blessing. He puts his hands on where he shouldn't and refrains from doing it where he should. And he seems to listen to all the wrong people too.

I don't feel sorry for the owners. They want protection from themselves. That's how the abomination called the salary cap came to be. If you need a team of Philadelphia lawyers to figure it out, that's your first clue you got it wrong. They should scrap it entirely and impose revenue sharing of all TV revenue between the franchises. That'd take care of that, evening the playing field between big markets and smaller markets, and it would impose more market restraints on salaries. Something along those lines.

Nice to know Council backstopped debt service with future (Blazer) parking fees. Money in the bank; Nothing could go wrong right?

To all NBA fans:

Sad you're not watching basketball? Try hockey. Super exciting sport, good players playing the game and it's a competitive league. Heck, spend a fraction of what you would be spending on Blazers tickets and attend some Winterhawks games!

Mark brings up an interesting aspect to this: How many things are tied to the Blazer-generated funds? What happens if the season is cancelled to the city council side of it?
People aren't going to stop using water - that diverted revenue stream is safe.
But what happens to the city this year without the Blazer-generated revenue streams?

But what happens to the city this year without the Blazer-generated revenue streams?

Allegedly, not much, but I'm skeptical. With few big payrolls in town, the loss of one is going to hurt the public sector somehow. If not directly from the city's guarantees and backstops, then indirectly from fewer taxes and fees collected from the Blazer-dependent private firms who could be looking at big losses.

It's difficult for me to imagine any scenario in a negotiation where it makes sense to have a billionaire walk into a room and forcefully explain to the other side that he can't do the deal because it isn't lucrative enough for him. He seems to lack emotional intelligence, or is possibly under the influence of something or other. He is being sued by his former security staff for forcing them to witness and/or engage in unspecified "illegal and immoral activities".

I can imagine it: In a scenario where the owners don't really want a deal until next season.

"I can imagine it: In a scenario where the owners don't really want a deal until next season."

Bill, I think you hit the nail on the head with that comment. The players will come crawling on their knees for a deal next year. It makes me wonder if the owners have some sort of insurance coverage for labor disputes or the like. They certainly don't seem to be overly motivated to meet the players half way on this one. Of course if you are Paul Allen or Mark Cuban the money doesn't really matter anyway.

Kinda funny - I thought there'd be more emphasis on the guaranteed contract (Like Rasheed, Darius and Allen Houston getting paid for 7 years and doign almost nothing) clauses.

In the NFL, if they wanted to they could fire Adrian Petersen or Tom Brady tomorrow. At least, it keeps players motivated instead of cruising for 6 years and then a contract year.

I see two scenarios - the first is, taking all that has happened at face value, that the season is done - toast - over before it started. Go watch college basketball, the Winterhawks, or get the garden started early.

The second one is that this is all a staged ploy at this point - owners get tough, players get tough back, then they settle and the season starts just after Thanksgiving.

Guess who owns the Green Bay Packers ? The people of Green Bay do ! I say we get a league of cities together and start our own league. The players are locked out and can work for us today. P.A. can go play on his various super-yachts , and we can lower the ticket price and beer price for OUR blazers.

Professional Basketball is SO much better than college ball. I will really miss it if they can't get a deal together.

The owners are a bunch of spoiled brats, so I'm not holding my breath.

Reminds me of the Star Trek episode where a supernatural star child held the entire crew hostage so that he had toys to play with. His mother had to intervene when the spoiled kid decided to kill them off in a fit of rage because the crew wasn't willing to play along.

Billb, why don't we try to bring Stens back and have CoP buy the Blazers like PGE? That was a very successful business plan.

Looks like I will become a fan of the NHL. In the meantime here is another story that gets to how tone deaf and utterly retarded NBA players are in negotiations with the owners:

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gameon/post/2011/10/carmelo-anthony-would-love-to-see-chris-paul-in-a-knicks-uniform/1

Ever since Wade, LeBron and Chris conspired and found a desperate GM in Pat Riley, NBA players feel they are entitled to play with their "friends" and destroy the game in the process.

Here is how they destroy competitive professional basketball:

1. A small market team (any team not based in NY, Miami, LA, Boston or Chicago) picks them up in the NBA draft.

2. Sign an endorsement deal with Nike, Reebok or Adidas before they play a second of basketball in the NBA.

3. Resign to a lucrative 3 to 5 year contract after their rookie contract expires.

4. Already a millionaire 2 to 10 times over, they keep the phone numbers of fellow NBA superstar friends, become Twitter followers with each other, and share intimate, contractual details.

5. Find a sucker GM like Pat Riley

6. All sign together and throw a ridiculous party where they talk about how many championship rings they will have.

Be it Carmelo Anthony or Joel Anthony, NBA players think they are bigger than the game. This is why the NBA owners are willing to spend the next season or three doing nothing more than managing an arena.

The players don't sign the checks, henceforth they should know their role and put the ball through a hoop and cover up their tattoos just like any other good employee would do.


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Road Work

Miles run year to date: 377
At this date last year: 237
Total run in 2013: 257
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In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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