Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day Of Reckoning In Cleveland

Ask a sports fan what thing they hate most about Major League Baseball and most will tell you about the tilted competitive system. Teams like the Brewers, A's, and Royals are basically minor league systems for the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets. As a result, teams can't keep the superstars they drafted from jumping ship to the highest bidder in a bigger market.

It looks like the NBA is starting to follow suit. Already the Lakers have made a habit out of snagging superstars from other teams (Shaq) and making joke trades (Pau Gasol) to help win championships. Now the New York Knicks have made it clear that they plan on making a big free-agent splash this off-season.

The trade for Tracy McGrady was for only one thing: his expiring contract. This will leave the Knicks oodles of cap space this off-season when players like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade become available.

Hey, good for Knicks fans. They might get to see some good basketball again. What I worry about is the precedent set if James decides he needs a bigger market in New York. There's been no secret the New York covets James. The Knicks have done anything short of straight tampering to woo James to the Enlarged Apple.

If James decides that he's just too big for Cleveland, the New York Knicks will suddenly be contenders. This is a team that has put together some of the worst teams in recent memory. The organization is a joke right now even though Isaiah Thomas was finally fired. Now suddenly the team will be contenders while Cleveland will fall off of the map.

I could coach the Knicks if James goes there. "You, James! Go dunk!" There you go. A crack organization isn't needed if you can just lure the best NBA players when you feel like winning.

So what happens in the future for a team in a smaller market? Does Kevin Durant run out of Oklahoma City for Chicago? Does Dwight Howard decide he'd like to follow Shaq out of Orlando and to the Lakers?

The NBA does some things to help smaller market teams keep the superstars. First and foremost, the original team is allowed to offer the star more money than another suitor (the Larry Bird rule). This has allowed the San Antonio Spurs to keep Tim Duncan and try for championships. However, the smaller markets don't offer the exposure and high society living that a major market would.

If the Knicks pull LeBron and another big name to Madison Square Garden, a dangerous pattern is set where smaller market teams will to have hope they get either a mild mannered super star like Tim Duncan who doesn't seek the spotlight, or the team has to win a championship before that star becomes a free-agent. Otherwise, the team and fans will have to watch their hero take another team to the title.

If you wonder what that's like, just call the fans in Orlando. They'll tell you what it was like to see Shaq win multiple NBA titles, but without a Magic uniform on.

1 comment:

  1. Once again I will say, There are too many teams. Do we really need a team in Oklahoma City? It sounds like a CBA stop! No sir, La Bron and or Wade or whoever should have the chance to play in the big time. It's been real ugly around here for a decade. We could use the help. The Bird rule is in place, so all teams will have a chance to out bid suitors. NY over Cleveland is not hard choice. Now I have to root against La Bron winning it all this year.But Hell,he could win and still pick NY!