NBA: Exploring David Stern's Campaign Against Bad Behavior

Ken ParkContributor IIOctober 2, 2010

NEW YORK - JUNE 24:  Luke Babbitt stands with NBA Commisioner David Stern after being drafted sixteenth by The Minnesota Timberwolves  at Madison Square Garden on June 24, 2010 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

If you haven't heard already, commish David Stern is raising the financial penalty for technical fouls this year. In this post, I explore various aspects of this policy change.

1. Kobe Bryant makes an insane amount of money. Even though we all knew this already, staring at his $24 million salary is both awe-inspiring and vomit-inducing at the same time. If Kobe is paid year-round on a bi-weekly schedule (like most of us), he would collect roughly a $1-million check every other week (not like most of us). That would be the equivalent of winning the Illinois "Big Money Boogie" Lotto jackpot (which has 1 in 10,000,000 odds) every single month. Talk about convex returns to skill—this is it right here.

2. I don't know whether to laugh or cry at the fact that Dwight Howard will pay roughly as much in technical foul fines as the median U.S. family will earn in income over an entire year.  

3. Among the NBA's most temperamental bunch, the increase in league fines for technical fouls won't do jack sheit much at all. The table above shows how much the league leaders in technical fouls may have to pay this year in fines. 

The projected fees are probably somewhat overstated since I am assuming player behavior will not change. Nonetheless, for Dwight Howard, the new league leader in Ts (since Rasheed retired during the offseason), racking up 16 Techs would amount to 0.3 percent of his 2010-11 income. Even if you looked at after-tax income instead, the financial hit from technical foul fines would still be pretty small, especially since several of these athletes earn substantial endorsement income on the side. 

4. In contrast, for the relatively poorer NBA players, Stern's campaign against bad behavior should have much more bite. This suggests a possible positive correlation between bad behavior and NBA salary. Ironically, the NBA's own punishment policies may be unintentionally encouraging a spoiled brat syndrome to some degree.

5. If the NBA really wanted to curb temper tantrums, game suspensions would have been a much more powerful deterrent. Every April, we see even the angriest player turn to pacifism in order to avoid missing playoff games. Unfortunately, NBA revenue hinges on superstars playing games, which makes suspensions an effective, yet impractical policy option.

6. In case you were wondering, the NBA donates penalty money to charities of their choosing.

The NBA—it's where philanthropy happens.

Ken writes for NBA-Analytiks www.nba-analytiks.com


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