Monday, June 13, 2011

LeBron- The Little Prince

I posted my quick take on LeBron last week (which you may have missed if you only link to me on Facebook), and other than the Game 7, I think I will stand by it.  Here is my blurb, before my additional thoughts:


"Lebron James
I think LeBron is a tool.  I hope the Dallas Mavericks put them down in 7 games.  I want it to go down to the wire, and I want the Mavs to take them in Miami.  I want the Heat to suffer humiliation on their home court.  That said, I think LeBron left Cleveland in EXACTLY the RIGHT way.  He went out guns (and ego) blazing.  He made himself the bad boy of the NBA, and that is exactly what the NBA needs.

We love the drama, we love to have someone to root for and root against.  I love that LeBron finally admitted that he isn't enough of a mature leader to build a championship team in Cleveland, I love that if he wins his championship, it had to be purchased and manufactured for him.  I also love that he probably won't even see it that way.


I hate to make Jordan comparisons, because they all fail miserably to make whatever point was trying to be made, that said LeBron has all the talent of a Jordan, but lacks all of the leadership."


Last night's game was very instructive on the mind set of LeBron James.  He is not a clutch player, and he quits when the chips are down.  The problem is beautifully summed up by Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Caveliers: “Congrats to Mark C.&entire Mavs org. Mavs NEVER stopped & now entire franchise gets rings. Old Lesson for all:There are NO SHORTCUTS. NONE.”

LeBron mistakenly thought that the name on his jersey and the people around him would deliver him a title, probably because he thinks that they owed him a championship after he told the world "I am bringing my talents to South Beach".  He kept his word though, he did bring his talents to South Beach, but he also brought his sense of entitlement.  However, when he got to South Beach, he found that same lack of leadership that was absent in Cleveland.

Nobody from the Heat knew who was in charge.  Wade tried to keep the team together, and did his job and sent the ball to LeBron so he could 'use his talents" only to be rebuffed when LeBron, with an open eye to the basket, continued to dish the ball off to someone else, that may have been more or less open, but significantly less talented.

LeBron came to Miami looking for someone to do the hard work for him, and as he still doesn't understand that nobody is going to do that work for him.

If LeBron is going to win a championship (of course if he plays in the NBA for 17 years he is likely to stumble into one or two), he is going to have to sit down with his piles of bling and come to grips with the fact that he is going to have to be the go to guy, or he is going to have to sit in the shadows of someone else who will get to take all of the credit, and dole out little pieces of it to his teammates in a championship speech.

The problem is that LeBron has already crowned himself King, and now he probably has to go out and slay the dragon by himself.  This means that he is going to have to take hard shots when his team is tired, he is going to have to take the ball, not just ask for it in tough games, and he is going to have to put other great players in HIS shadow, not just in the shadow of his ego sitting atop a big pile of bling, because legacy is always greater than bling, and legacy comes with winning championships.

UpdateLeBron's commented this morning about how average fans should be getting back to the real world and stop "hating" on him, where does he think we are all blogging from?  We are not blogging from our newest Bentley while crying over our dismal failures, we are not going into a doctors office to get a tattoo removed that says "King I/VIII", we are at work clicking over to email and Excel every time our boss walks by so we don't get caught blogging on work computers.  We are taking that risk so that we can get our excitement out there about HIS loss, even if we had never heard of JJ Barea before last night.

Friday, June 10, 2011

NFL Lockout - My Predictions

I wanted to post a little about the NFL Lockout, because I really don't think it is a bad thing.  In the end this is a labor dispute, management and labor fighting to keep as much of the pie as they can get, and both sides should keep on fighting.

That is where the easy part ends.  For those of you that need something to fall asleep to tonight, I'll give a recap of the dispute:

2006, The NFL and the NFLPA (Players Union) signed a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that gave the NFL $1B, and then split the rest of the revenues 40/60 (59.5% to be precise, to the players).  Back in 2006, the NFL racked in Gross Revenue of $6.3B.  This agreement also included an "opt out" clause that gave either side an opportunity to "opt out" of the agreement in 2009 if they didn't think they were getting a fair deal.

2008, The NFL exercised their right under the 2006 CBA to opt out and renegotiate the agreement.  They claim that they have spent a significant amount of money growing revenues to the tune of now about $9B.  They also forecast that they will have to spend more to continue to grow the game, build stadiums.

Subsequently the NFLPA voted to have a Litigator (Trial Lawyer/former Federal Prosecutor) represent them rather than a former NFL player in preparation for a lengthy court battle.  Gene Upshaw, the former NFLPA director was also a former NFL player.  I would argue that a litigator was the right decision as the NFL was posturing for a fight as well by signing contracts with the TV Networks that would pay the NFL even in the event of a lockout when no games would be shown.


At that time, the NFL floated a few different proposals including increasing their initial take to $2B, and splitting the remaining revenue 50/50.  There were other proposals including an 18 game regular season, rookie salary cap among other things.  During this time the NFL filed a grievance with the Nation Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that the NFLPA was not negotiating in good faith.

The original revenue split was not really that bad, especially compared to other large service (people) based companies.  All companies like this pay out a vast majority of revenue to their labor, when the labor is the product.  And compound this with the fact that this is entertainment, the top entertainers get paid, and the rest of the cast makes good coin, but not enough to retire after 3 years.  To the firm, this labor is an expense, and after paying those expenses, in addition to other costs, headquarters, marketing, etc, the owners probably make a pretty good penny running the show, although we know that there are some clubs losing money.  But like all companies that are growing, it takes money to invest in expansion and growth, and the NFL continues to see a lot of growth potential.

The NFLPA said they would give up the cash if they could just see the financials of each of the 32 teams.  (They were lying by the way).  The NFL gave up 5 years worth of consolidated financials, but not broken out by club.  The NFLPA then asked for 10 years.  Just FYI, this has nothig to do with the financials and "trust but verify", the NFLPA wanted to see the books so they knew the exact dollar breaking point of the NFL and each club to be used as leverage during settlement talks during an antitrust lawsuit suit, nothing more, nothing less.  The NFL would be complete morons to release the books, and the NFLPA lawyers know that, but as calculated, it played really well with ESPN.com message boards bloggers to say the NFL was hiding something.

No real progress was made by the time the CBA was set to expire in March 3, 2011.

Shortly before the CBA expired, the NFLPA notified the NFL that its members had voted to dissolve the union and reorganize it into a professional association (not a union).  The new NFLPA also filed a lawsuit in federal court in Minnesota alleging that the NFL was operating an illegal monopoly, in addition they sought to have the judge block what they assumed would be a lockout of their players by the NFL, which subsequently occurred at midnight that night.

Now this is where it gets messy.  The NFL (and other professional sports leagues) are likely the only group of capitalists that absolutely NEED to have a union in order to operate.  Without the union, the NFL is just one big illegal monopoly.  The NFL is an association of 32 independently owned clubs, all which conspire to cap salaries, and divide up labor outside the normal process of hiring employees (they have a draft and declare that their picks can't go to another club for 4 or 5 years since they got "dibbs" on them.) 

Nowhere else is this legal.  GM, Ford and Chrysler don't have a bunch of college engineering students sign up for "career day" and then each take turns picking their favorites, and then tell them they can't go to a competitor if they don't like their deal.  It's just illegal.

But, if the company signs a deal with a union, and the union agrees to all of this, it is magically legal.

So the issue in court became "is it legal for a company to lockout employees if they are not part of a union" (because the dissolved it).  The district court judge said no, there is no union, so a lockout is illegal, in addition she ruled that she didn't have to wait for the NLRB to rule on the NFLs petition that the NFLPA was negotiating in bad faith because she had "original jurisdiction" to rule in this matter, because if there was no union, this dispute did not arise out of a labor dispute and run afoul of the federal law barring federal judges from stopping a lockout under the Norris–La Guardia Act.  In addition she ruled that the players would likely win their lockout suit if it was ever tried in court of fact, and that the lockout was illegal because the players were being harmed irreparably during the lockout.

The NFL subsequently appealed to the 8th circuit court of appeals, and the 3 judges voted 2-1 to put a stay on the order to lift the lockout, and the lockout was reimposed.  The judges also said that the circut judge erred in her finding that the lockout was illegal because the Norris-Laguardia act noted a lockout arising from a labor dispute, it did NOT mention that there had to be a union or formal organized labor of any kind, just that it had to arise out of a labor dispute.

And that is where we are today.  If the 8th Circuit rules formally as expected to keep the lockout in place, then the NFL will have the leverage it needs to push through many (but not all) of its demands.  If the players prevail, this continues to get tied up in court as the players have vowed to continue to sue under anti-trust claims.

I don't really care what the outcome is, I enjoy this fight.  Ultimately a deal will get done.  I personally believe that the players are over confident that the fans will back them against the NFL.  I didn't see a lot of Packers fans trade in their cheeseheads and season tix at Lambeau Field for horned helmets and Vikings jerseys.  Fans follow their team, they admire players, but they root for their team as generations of players come and go.

The players are short timers, and they need to bank all they can as fast as they can, you don't pay off $600k worth of bling debt with food stamps.  You need catches and touchdowns for that.  The average player lasts 3.6 years.  They either get hurt and more often they get outrun by the next big deal coming out of college.  Think about it, how many players can you name from your current favorite team?  3, 4 maybe, if you are a sports junkie 50% of the starters?



If the players win, we likely won't see football this year.  The antitrust lawsuit (with triple $$$ damages from the NFL if the NFL loses) is too big a gamble, they will temporarily shut down the league and possibly reopen it with most of the big market teams, several smaller teams will fold.  New rules would have to be put in place that would not run afoul of antitrust laws, this would eliminate the draft, salary cap and forced contracts.  Free agency would be king.  We can argue about whether it would be a bad thing or not, some teams will fold as they will anyway.

The disputes are much more heated between individual owners right now than they are between the NFL and the NFLPA.  Big market teams can weather the storm and make money on their own, even without team parody, but the overall take will be way south of $9B. 

Predictions: NFL wins at 8th circuit and holds their clubs together longer than the NFLPA can hold their members together.  Ultimately there are way more guys making $750k/yr than there are guys making $20M/yr.  The cheap guys will get tired of painting houses for $15/hr.  NFLPA subsequently folds re-certifies as a union.  NFL gets $1.4B up front and 46/54 split of revenues, and a rookie wage cap.  In exchange to get a deal done, the NFLPA drops its antitrust suit.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

P90X/NFL Lockout/Buckeye Trouble

I hate to use a string of tragedies to start blogging again, but as football season approaches, I finally hase some opinions that I am going to share with the world whether the world reads them or not.  Each of my topics below warrants its own post (or 5 posts in a couple of cases) but here are the highlights.

P90X
First, P90X started out great, I averaged 4 days a week and had only 1 glitch, my appetite surged, so although my shoulders, arms and chest look good, I haven't dumped much weight, so I am taking a few weeks off to stabilize the food intake, and then will start up with the evening workouts again.  I did start doing a morning run/jog/hike, and I really like it, so that will continue, so wish me luck.



NFL Lockout
As many of you don't know about and probably won't care about until games get cancelled, the NFL has locked out its players and mini-camps are getting missed and we might even see a few games get cancelled, if not the whole season depending on what a couple of judges say, and whether the NFL can negotiate a deal with a Union that technically doesn't exist but somehow is still negotiating on behalf of the players. 

I have spent way too much time on ESPN message boards reading incoherent rants that don't know the difference between REVENUE and INCOME.  More on this later.




Ohio State Scandals

In really tragic news, Jim Tressel was shown the door at Ohio State (he didn't quit for family reasons or because he was going to be a distraction, I don't care what the press conference said, he was canned).  While Tressel ball is calculated and boring, it is successful.  He controlled his own fate.

A new coach will bring a new scheme and that will make things really tense around Columbus for a while.  That said, Ohio State will recruit an awesome coach, it always has, and this time will be no different.

Let's just hope the next one isn't a big Bernie Madoff investor (Tressel had odd dealings with Micky Monus).


Lebron James
I think LeBron is a tool.  I hope the Dallas Mavericks put them down in 7 games.  I want it to go down to the wire, and I want the Mavs to take them in Miami.  I want the Heat to suffer humiliation on their home court.  That said, I think LeBron left Cleveland in EXACTLY the RIGHT way.  He went out guns (and ego) blazing.  He made himself the bad boy of the NBA, and that is exactly what the NBA needs. 

We love the drama, we love to have someone to root for and root against.  I love that LeBron finally admitted that he isn't enough of a mature leader to build a championship team in Cleveland, I love that if he wins his championship, it had to be purchased and manufactured for him.  I also love that he probably won't even see it that way.

I hate to make Jordan comparisons, because they all fail miserably to make whatever point was trying to be made, that said LeBron has all the talent of a Jordan, but lacks all of the leadership.