Improving the NBA: New Blood In, David Stern Out

Ralph isaacAnalyst IMarch 9, 2008

It was 1984 when a young lawyer took control of the NBA. He brilliantly improved the league's net worth and marketing. He banished the image of the NBA as a drug-infested league. He secretly suspended—I'll believe what I want—Michael Jordan for two years because of his gambling issues.

At the time, Michael was the league's biggest star, and if that scandal had gotten out of hand, it would definitely have hurt the NBA. And when the thug persona, wannabe-rap stars took control of the NBA, he instituted the dress code, which was a brilliant move.

But as all other great men, David Stern's greed as taken ahold of him. And I think as a result, the owners should bring in some young blood to come and take over the NBA. Hold on a second, before you start telling me I'm crazy for saying this, think about this: 

1. Whenever the NBA adds an expansion team, it increases the value of the NBA. It doesn't matter if the team is terrible for the next 10 years. The more teams, the more money the networks like the four-letter network will pay for rights.

2. I hear David Stern saying with his own mouth: "You want a team in your city, sign me that 300 million dollar check". Yes, ladies and gentleman, that's what Bob Johnson paid to get the Bobcats. I know the NBA wanted to be the first league with a black owner—I'm black myself—but it was a bad decision. Why couldn't Bob Johnson just have purchased a pre-existing struggling franchise? 

This is not the NFL, where teams can build themselves through the draft in a short time. The talent in the NBA draft is not as abundant as the NFL. So it's one more franchise that will be at the bottom of the Leastern Conference and dragging the NBA down.

3. Stern now wants to add five European expansion teams to the league. And yes, you guessed it—the unreported fact is that David Stern would receive $1.5 billion immediately from those five european owners collectively. 

He don't seem to care as long as the money is right. But it'd be five more teams dragging the NBA down, all for the dollar bills—or in this case, euros.

And don't believe the hype: there is not enough young talent in the NBA. Why do you think there's only four good teams in the East? Five more teams would only stretch that talent thinner.

4. Do you know what the effect of scarce talent is? A lot of players are getting overpaid for their services. And when a player sees a guy with lesser talent than him getting paid max money, he's going to want max money also. It's a ripple effect.

This explains why guys like Emeka Okafur, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, and Andre Iguodala turn down $50 million deals. They aren't even franchise players, yet they want franchise player money. All these guys are second or third options.

As a matter of fact, I'd even go as far as saying Gilbert Arenas is a second option—besides scoring, he can't do much else. he's not even a great shooter but thats a discussion for another day.

5. One way to increase talent would be to add another round to the draft, and guarantee the contracts of half of the second round draftees. The NBA should also raise the age limit, to two years out of high school. This way, the players drafted would have more knowledge about the game and be less mistake-prone.

Why not use the NBDL? Create a rule where teams can sign players D-league team and not have them count against the number of players allowed per team.

6. The NBA should tone down the player marketing a bit. The superstar-making machine is creating a lot of fake stars. In my opinion, there are only two true superstars in the NBA: Kobe Bryant and Lebron James. These guys have it all: the superstar game and the superstar fame. If I was the NBA, I'd shoot a bunch of commercials with these two guys featured in them, and leave the rest alone.

7. The NBA should negotiate non-guaranteed contracts into the NBA. These shouldn't be as bad as the NFL's but they should be non-guaranteed nonetheless. At least 60 percent of the contracts would be guaranteed, and players would receive part of that guaranteed money as a signing bonus, with the amount of the signing bonus depending on the team.

Since there would be non-guaranteed money, we'd need a hard cap to prevent teams from going over the cap and keep it the playing field level. And think about it—if it was like this, the debacle with the Knicks would never happen. Guaranteed contracts are killing the small-market teams. If most small-market teams had great teams, the NBA's value would increase exponentially. 

8. The NBA should do like baseball: If the East wins the All star game, then the team from the East that makes it to the NBA finals will have home court advantage and vice-versa. It would make the NBA All-star game and MVP, a more valuable game and award.

I don't think David Stern will do any of the above, because he now can only see one thing: GREEN. His ego has become has fat as he as. So as a diehard fan, I'm pleading with the owners to hire new blood, that's as hungry as Stern used to be, without confusing hunger with greed.