With Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams now playing in the NY metropolitan area, a new narrative about the NBA has steadily gained steam: How can small markets survive in an NBA where star players control their own destiny?
Putting aside whether that should even matter to the average basketball fan, this tiresome concern trolling has one glaring flaw: the Oklahoma City Thunder.
**The new labor agreement should reflect the interests of the majority of basketball fans. The majority of the NBA’s fans live in big cities. Therefore the labor agreement should favor teams in big cities. One fan in Salt Lake City shouldn’t take priority over 10 in LA…living in a small town doesn’t make you more important.**
With the signing of Kendrick Perkins to a four-year extension, the Thunder have locked down an excellent young player—Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Perkins—at each position. And with the Lakers, Mavericks and Spurs advancing in age, there aren’t many long-term obstacles to the Thunder in the West.
Durant, who grew up near Washington DC, and Perkins, who grew up in Houston and played the first part of his career in Boston, had no problem staying in the 44th-biggest media market in the US. While the easy answer is that Durant has more character than LeBron and Carmelo, the reality is he would have made the same decision if their situations were reversed.
Mismanagement, not market size, cost Denver and Cleveland their franchise players. While Sam Presti (the Thunder GM) and Danny Ferry (the former Cavaliers president of basketball operations) were both disciples of Gregg Popovich and RC Buford in San Antonio—only Presti took their lessons to heart.
He tweaked the Spurs blueprint a bit in Oklahoma City, but the core principles remain the same, and they should give hope to fans in small markets throughout the NBA.