Full steam ahead …..
The NBA has entered a new chapter with the stepping down of David Stern as commissioner of the league, to be succeeded by his long-time deputy Adam Silver . As Deputy Commissioner, Silver will officially take the reins as the league’s commissioner immediately after 2014 NBA All Star game festivities, with the incumbent likely to return to the private sector either to practice law or in all likelihood, to be hired by a high-profiled Fortune 500 company. Stern’s three-decade long rein has been filled with highs and lows , some might say more highs, bearing in mind the NBA’s visibility on a global basis , as well the rising values of the thirty teams that now currently exist .
In a recent discussion with a patron , he tried to suggest that the league still remains a team oriented endeavor. In reality, however, nothing, could be further from the truth, as the NBA has now become personality driven, by way of the visibility of the league’s most high-profiled players. Individual feats, are now more admired than the actual team endeavor by way of a victory . This has become glaringly true and can be seen with how the games are now reported not only on the league’s official site , but also across the wide gamut of media outlets . With stars such four-time league MVP LeBron James , Kevin Durant , Carmelo Anthony , Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki , not only being amongst the best players now in the league , these athletes are now among the most highly paid and said to be “ face “ of their respective franchises. A great deal of the financial largess of the teams has come with the fact that the league hierarchy has not sought to rein in expenses by way of the teams’ payroll . Though there is said to be a “soft salary cap” ($58.759 million) in place , few teams actually fall in line and choose to seek to remain within the cap figure.
The departure of David Stern , though expected , what has been a cause for concern over the past several years, has been the decline of the play within the NBA. Scoring , may well be up and down in a number of cases , but the repeated point , has now become the weakness of the Eastern Conference in comparison to their Western Conference counterparts. One could attest to the fact that there are some bad teams within the East , lack of depth in talent , as well as the inexperience of the coaches and their respective staffs. Stern has always been quick to point to what he believes are positives within with game, while seeking to blur the lines with regard to the negatives, the fans and media can readily point to. His autocratic rule, a tendency to place himself in the middle any high-profiled matter concerning the NBA, paints a somewhat cozy image and picture of the commissioner . Whether or not, this trait is followed by Adam Silver, once he officially assumes the reins as the league’s highest ranking executive remains to be seen.
Stern’s tenure can be best summed up , by saying that were it not for Michael Jordan and his unprecedented success and accolades with the Chicago Bulls . Then, the NBA would have remained somewhat of a pedantic pastime with fans, by way of being entertained . Jordan was the “goose “ that laid the golden egg for the league’s massive appeal nationally , . as well as on the global stage .
The Indiana Pacers (38-10) continue to keep apace , ahead of the rest of their conference and divisional rivals within the East. Head coach Frank Vogel , has his team playing some high up-tempo basketball , while having the best ten-game winning streak within the East , having been victorious in seven of their last ten games . Not to be outdone, the defending NBA champions, the Miami Heat have also put together a similar mark of going 7-3 over their last ten contests. . Being the top two teams, within the Eastern Conference, these two franchises may well be on a repeat course for another conference finals’ clash during the upcoming postseason , if both currently maintain their existing pace.
Everything about this NBA season, points to a divide within the East concerning the top two, teams, while the others simply jockey for position , for the seeding’s numbers three through eight . From my own perspective , the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat simply have to play .550 basketball or better over the remainder of the regular season schedule to assure themselves of the top two spots within the Eastern Conference. Miami Heat and LeBron James this season to my mind, are not the team I witnessed at times during last season , simply exerting their dominance over an opponent . If anything , during their travails of their current schedule they have been complacent , and not showing a great deal of consistency as and when needed . Obviously, the change in the makeup of the roster from last season , has a great deal to what the fans have seen, and to my mind the additions of Greg Oden and Michael Beasley , has not borne the fruit desired in terms their combined productivity. Then you also have , an ailing Dwyane Wade , being in and out of the lineup , throughout much of this season. A Wednesday night contest against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California, should prove to be an exciting match-up between the two teams coached by Erik Spoelstra of the Heat and Doc Rivers , for the Clippers. .
The Pacers having come off a narrow four-point victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night , will have a scheduled meeting with the Portland Trailblazers on Friday night in their home venue at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana, Indianapolis.
There is no doubt that the success of the NBA came down to first , those legendary regular and postseason contests between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. Certainly., the collegiate furor built up around Larry Bird and Magic Johnson became even more pertinent once they entered the league to begin their now legendary careers. While, there seems to be a belief that there remains a team rivalry that dominates within the NBA. There is no longer anything or any semblance of a contest that one could point to and categorically state , the league does have a rivalry of note. Both the Celtics and Lakers are currently having indifferent seasons , with the case of Boston a being newly revamped roster , head coach and coaching staff . Their season , will be one of Brad Stevens simply learning the nuances of the game at the professional, while his young team acquits itself within the league. The Los Angeles Lakers, with Mike DAntoni in his second season as the team’s head coach , the labors of the franchise have been well chronicled over the course their schedule . Kobe Bryant remains sidelined , and there seems to be no immediate timeline set for his return to the starting lineup . Los Angeles has a meaningful game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that now seems to be disillusioned , has its best player in Kyrie Irving questioning the direction of the franchise , while team owner , Dan Gilbert , now said angered by the player’s discontent.The Boston Celtics will seek to even their season series with the Philadelphia 76ers , when the two teams meet in Philadelphia Pennsylvania , on Wednesday evening at the Wells Fargo Center .
Courtesy of Forbes.com
This story appears in the February 10, 2014 issue of Forbes.
By Kurt Badenhausen , Forbes contributing columnist & writer
The NBA is a star driven league . David Stern has spent his 30 years as commissioner marketing the game’s best players—Magic, Bird, Jordan, Shaq, Kobe, LeBron—and creating global icons. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship for both owners and players. While league revenue and franchise values soared 40-fold, the NBA’s top salaries jumped from $1 million to $30 million.
The payouts off the court have been even more lucrative for elite players thanks to shoe companies like Nike, Adidas and Reebok, who turned players into bigger than life celebrities. Michael Jordan’s first Nike shoe contract was worth $500,000 a year in 1984 when the Swoosh was a $920 million-in-sales company. LeBron James will bank an estimated total of $42 million this year from endorsements with his biggest benefactor, Nike, now a $26 billion company.
look at the NBA’s top earners on and off the court puts Bryant on top with combined earnings of $64.5 million from salary and endorsements. Bryant is in the final season of the three-year, $83.5 million contract extension he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in April 2010, including the NBA’s highest salary this season at $30.5 million. He is the first player since Jordan in the 1997-98 season to top $30 million with his playing salary. Bryant signed a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension in November that will keep his on-court salary tops in the NBA with payouts of $23.5 million and $25 million the next two seasons.
While Bryant is reaching the sunset of his playing career, his endorsements are at an all-time high thanks to his extended run atop the league and five titles with the Lakers. His deals with the likes of Turkish Air, Lenovo, Hublot, Nike and Panini for merchandise are worth more than $30 million annually. Bryant is the most popular NBA figure in China and cultivates his relationship with the Chinese people through eight straight years of extended offseason visits for Nike. Even after 18 years in the league, Bryant’s jersey is still the NBA’s second best-seller this season, behind only James.
Basketball is the only one of the four major U.S. team sports that puts a cap on individual player salaries, but don’t fret for NBA players who have the highest average salary in sports at nearly $5 million a year. Bryant benefits from a provision in the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement where players can sign deals at 105% of their previous salary even if it exceeds the cap. The cap this year is $58.7 million with individual players limited to 35%, but Bryant has signed a series of max deals while still performing at a high level over his nearly two decades in the league. The result is a playing salary that is $7 million higher than any other NBA player this year.
The NBA’s 10 highest-paid players will collectively bank $358 million this year, including $149 million from sponsors. Nine of the top 10 make at least $4 million annually from endorsements. James is the leader off the court at $42 million and ranks second overall with earnings of $61.1 million. Two straight NBA titles have sent James’ popularity and fortunes soaring. The NBA’s top pitchman counts Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola , Samsung, Audemar
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There is no denying, that Kevin Durant is a prolific scorer, as borne out by the fact that he has already been a three-time NBA scoring titlist and quite possibly is on his way to securing his fourth , in his extraordinary six-year career in the NBA . What has made Durant’s season all the more astonishing, is the very fact that for a number of games he has played without the aid of Oklahoma City Thunder point guard and teammate , Russell Westbrook . While, there seems to a great deal false bravado, in celebrating a game , where Carmelo Anthony scored sixty-two points in a contest against the Charlotte Bobcats. Let us not us forget , those defensive statistics concerning the Bobcats belie the very fact, that the team is struggling to maintain its grip on the eighth seed within the Eastern Conference.
As the Oklahoma City Thunder seek to make a return to the NBA postseason , the challenge for Sam Presti , Scott Brooks and the coaching staff , will be , at what time will they seek to rest some of their prime starters not necessarily for a prolonged stretch as the second half of the season meanders. It is hard to believe that beyond the eighty-two game regular season foray , the players are then asked to subject themselves to as many as another thirty plus games during the league’s postseason schedule of contests. Too much basketball, or simply the avarice and greed of the NBA as a branded sporting and commercial enterprise ? It is clear that even in light of the Thunder’s effortless victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves , Scott Brooks will have to address the issue of fatigue and unforeseen injuries taking place to some of the more prominent players on the roster. Russell Westbrook’s return cannot come around soon enough, to take the bulk of the scoring burden and distribution off Kevin Druant’s shoulders , even if the player is amenable to assuming that role, as well as being the leader of what it is undoubtedly an extremely talent team.
As fan of the San Antonio Spurs and a long-time admirer of the talents of both Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich . I can say that the disappointment of last postseason still leaves a bitter taste within my mouth ! The NBA Finals’ series loss to the Miami Heat , notwithstanding where in games’ six and seven , the team had the series within their grasp , only to fail miserably. I have written very little about the Spurs as the 2013-14 NBA has taken shape, choosing instead to view the rest of the NBA as I currently see the state play both on and off the court.
At 36-13 as of the February the San Antonio Spurs currently have the second best record within the Western Conference trailing the Oklahoma City Thunder’s (40-11) mark of 40-11 , good enough for the best record in the entire NBA . While I do believe that the Spurs will make the NBA Playoffs once again, I believe that Gregg Popovich will have some major issues with the team in terms of its current guise . There is not enough offensive productivity from the players by way of a third and fourth alternate scorer behind the team’s leading offensive weapon , Tony Parker (18.1 ppg) . Defensively, the Spurs do remain resolute , but the results do not belie the fact that against the top teams the Spurs have been somewhat inconsistent , while losing games to lesser opponents .
For a number of years Popovich has been able to rely on his ” Big Three ” of Tim Duncan , Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli to supply the team with the preponderance of the team’s scoring and much of the success equated with the franchise over last decade. It is now time, for the younger players on the staff to step up to the plate and assume an even greater responsibility in that role. While I am sure that the head coach and his staff have emphasized that point , I am not so sure as to whether or not Tiago Splitter , Kawhi Leonard , Danny Green , Corey Joseph , Aron Baynes and Nando De Colo are yet ready to assume that role. Yet, if the Spurs are to have any semblance of success particular in the run-up before the postseason begins , where teams will have to hit a rich vein of form , the expectations will be of the highest of these players . Peter Holt , as the owner of the San Antonio Spurs, has always been reliant upon acumen shown by GM RC Buford along with that off the coaching staff led by Gregg Popovich. It is hard to envisage the franchise not attaining the success achieved over the past seventeen years, without individuals in question.
Coming off a 125-118 victory over the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center in Washington , DC , the Spurs’ next scheduled game will be against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn , New York , where the Spurs lead the season series 1-0 .
Less than a week away from the NBA’s All Star Break , the league is likely to commemorate David Stern’s tenure , with the likelihood , that he will be bestowed with some sort of plaque ,with the players current and past , owners and a number of general managers lauding the now departed executive for his services to the league . Adam Silver has a tough act to follow, while seeking to take the brand into a new arena , in terms of a growing fan-base globally . How he goes about seeking to achieve this will be based upon how the game itself is viewed by the consumers he and the NBA seeks to court as well as the major corporations in the regions where the league now seeks to grow. Your thoughts on what you have witnessed within the NBA this season and how do you David Stern’s tenure as the commissioner ?
Picture and slideshow details below.
(1) David Stern the outgoing NBA Commissioner has stepped down from his position and will be succeeded by his Deputy , Adam Silver. A three-decade tenure and Stern has presided over a numerous changes as well as the league expand to its current makeup of thirty teams and revenues exceeding $ 5.7 billion annually. Getty Images / Paul Matthews ….
(2) Adam Silver, the incoming NBA Commissioner who will be succeeding David Stern after his three-decade long tenure as the league’s highest ranking executive. Favored by the general managers and owners , it remains to be seen how Silver will seek to stamp his own style of custodianship on the NBA. Getty Images / Paul Robinson …
(3) Dallas Mavericks player Dirk Nowitzki a native of Germany celebrates a basket against the Denver Nuggets in the second half of game 4 of second round of playoff game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas USA, 11 May 2009. Dallas won 119-117. Nowitzki a NBA Finals’ MVP is amongst the highest paid players in the NBA and has been the leading scorer on the Mavericks’ team this season . EPA/LARRY W. SMITH **CORBIS OUT** ……
(4) NBA legends Magic Johnson left , is seen here with David Stern center and Larry Bird . Bird and Johnson contested several memorable NBA Finals as well as regular season contests . Each player has been a regular season MVP and Finals’ MVP award winner. @ Corbis Images ….
(5) Michael Jordan (23) is seen here alongside teammates Scottie Pippen (33) and Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls . The three players are members of the Hall of Fame and three of the most celebrated members of the team that was so dominant during the 1995-96 season that won the NBA title as well posting a season’s and league best record of 72-10 . NBA archives …. @ copyrighted material all rights reserved ………
(6) Tim Duncan, left , is seen here meeting center-court with Kevin Durant before a game … between the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs . Duncan seen as an elder statesman of the league has won just about every individual honor available for a player as a professional in the NBA. Getty Images / Tim Woods ……
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