Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Hoop & The Harm: Notes from the Hardcourt

Vote of Confidence

As a child I was led to believe by my schoolyard chums that Wednesday was ‘opposite day,’ at least when it suited whatever it was we were talking about…So I ask you, what is the opposite of a vote of confidence?

Lets let LA Clippers point guard Baron Davis take this one; he’s probably used to hearing it from the fans when he’s not playing well (like right now) but he, of all people, can take it a step further as his team’s owner has taken up heckling him!

Yahoo! Sports reports that Donald Sterling has been yelling things like “Why are you in the game?” or “Why did you take that shot?” and “You’re out of shape!” at Davis and he runs the floor for the 5-20 Clippers this season, one of his worst in the NBA.

The 31-year-old is averaging less than 25 minutes per game, though he’s missed 14 of his team’s 25 contests so far this season, and he’s putting up 7.4 points per game, all the while, earning (or not earning) a team-high $13-million. Even worse (for the Clippers), he has three years and over $40-million left on his current deal!

When asked about his courtside ‘presence’ at the game Sterling wouldn’t really comment, saying only that “we’re all disappointed” when players don’t make shots.”

Can you imagine if your boss’s boss came to your workspace and taunted you all day?

Gearing Up For Battle

If early indications are anything to go by, there will be a lot of elite basketball players with nowhere to play very soon…

In fact, with the threat of potential work stoppages looming over both the NBA and the NFL, 2011-12 could be a pretty boring season of sports!

Much like the NFLPA has done, the NBA players union is apparently going team-to-team and holding decertification votes – what this means I’m not completely sure, but basically if the union is decertified and the owners lock the players out, they can sue.

CBS Sports' Matt Moore says the union becomes a trade organization and a lockout becomes a “group boycott” by the owners, which goes against antitrust laws. That alone sets the two sides up for a potentially long and grueling court battle: as Moore points out, the league will argue that the union doesn’t really want to decertify and the union will argue the points about antitrust laws.

Never mind all of the other stuff the two sides will have to hash out before there is basketball next season!

Among those items are the hard cap vs. soft cap issue, the owners wanting an $800-milion rollback in salaries, the elimination of guaranteed contracts and the union wanting the age restriction dropped.

Believe it or not, the players are completely against most of the things the owners want and the owners have basically ignored the proposal sent to them by the union back in July.

This one has lockout written all over it!

The NBA’s Coyotes

A Louisiana-based group is coming together to potentially save the New Orleans Hornets from moving out of state.

The NBA recently bought the club because the owner was unable to sell it off to anyone else and obviously one very real option is that the franchise could change locations. The league says it would much rather find buyers that would keep the team where it is, especially given what the region has been through since hurricane Katrina nailed the region in 2005.

It looks like they’ll likely have a setup similar to what the Edmonton Oilers had prior to Daryl Katz purchasing the club – a coalition of local business owners coming together to keep the team in NO.

An interesting wrinkle in all of this is that the Hornets can get out of their arena lease if average attendance over a two-year period falls below 14,735. Right now, they’re averaging much less than that and a spokesman for the group that runs the building says they’ll need to average almost 14,900 for the next 12 home games to void the early exit clause.

Speaking of exits and the Hornets, check out this circus shot that LeBron James made recently against New Orleans where he practically exits the building before scoring!

Other stuff…

Remember all the Carmelo Anthony trade talk? CBS Sports reports he’ll now only accept a trade to the Knicks…

The NY Times points out that Boston’s Rajon Rondo could become just the third player since the NBA came about to lead the league in assists while averaging fewer points than helpers…

LeBron James says he can relate to Brett Favre leaving Green Bay after all those years…Uhhh okay!

Is Ron Artest not the most giving pro athlete you’ve ever come across? He says he’ll donate his 2011-12 salary to charity (maybe he’s expecting a lockout!)

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