Yesterday the Golden State Warriors Closed out their 3rd NBA title in four years decisively sweeping away LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

This has prompted quite a bit of “Greatest Team of all Time” talk and without question this team is to this point the most dominant of the 21st century Lebron James comparing them to the New England Patriots is quite apt.

But for those of you who are buying into the “greatest team of all time business” let me provide you to this link to the stats page of a fellow named Russell who was known to play a little basketball in my youth.

If you scroll town to the “playoff section you will note that next to Mr. Russell you will note that there are little gold rings next to 11 of the 13 seasons listed.

Now if we concede that there are more playoff rounds in the current era (even while ignoring that fewer teams means less dilution of talent) and penalize Mr. Russell’s Celtics have of those titles we still find they have 2 1/2 more rings that the current Golden State team.

When they get those two rings, then call me back and we’ll talk.

Furthermore for those who are saying Lebron James is the greatest player of all time, a perfectly reasonable argument if you’ve ever seen him play, particularly when we consider that he’s apparently been playing this year’s finals with a broken hand, you might also note that while his own stats are loaded, in his 13 years he has played so far, 12 of them as an all star he has in 8 trips to the NBA finals come out with a ring 3 times.

Mr. Russell also played 13 years, 12 of them as an all star and during that time went to 12 NBA championships winning 11 the final two as Player coach!

Now I think you can make a very fair argument for James as the greatest of all time, just as you can for Michael Jordan and for Kareem Abdul Jabbar, who for some reason never in included in this conversation despite winning the first of his six rings at the age of 23 two years after Russell last (1970-71) and his last at the age of 40 in the 1987-1988 season when a 24 year old Michael Jordan was in his fourth year three years removed from the first of his six tiles.

But to dismiss Bill Russell from that conversation, a man who not only went 12/13 in going to the finals and 11/12 at winning them but also won two titles while coaching the team as well, that’s just nonsense.

Most Members of sports media are liberal and it’s interesting to see the parallels between their conventional wisdom on the NBA playoffs regarding the Boston Celtics and the Conventional wisdom concerning Trump.

When Gordon Hayward went down in game one of the season Conventional Wisdom on sports radio said that the Celtics chances to make the NBA finals were practically gone, that was until Kyrie Irving led the team to an incredible run.

When Kyrie Irving went down with injury conventional wisdom on sports radio said that while the Celtics would make the playoffs because of their start they were doomed.

When the Celtics faced the Bucks conventional wisdom on sports said that Milwaukee would win because they had stars and the Celtics did not but it’s OK because it’s because their guys are hurt anyways.

When the Celtics beat the Bucks and found themselves faced with Philly conventional wisdom on sports radio said that Philly would beat them but the Celtics should be proud to have gotten this far and any wins here are gravey

When the Celtics demolished Philly conventional wisdom on the radio said that the Celtics didn’t have a chance against the Cleveland team and LeBron James who swept Toronto but they should celebrate getting that far

When the Celtics won game one vs the Cavs conventional wisdom on the radio said that LeBron would have a monster game two to make up for it and the Celtics, while game still were unlikely to beat Cleveland.

When the Celtics won game 2 (despite LeBron’s monster game) suddenly the conventional wisdom on the radio was that Cleveland was finished that LeBron didn’t have the horses and it was only a matter of time.

Yesterday Cleveland beat the Celtics convincingly on their own home court 116-86 leading the Celtics the entire game. I’ve not listened to the radio yet but I predict that when I do the conventional wisdom will suddenly once again turn on a dime.

The lesson of all of this? “Conventional Wisdom” is only reality if the people said wisdom is speaking about allow it to be so.

Because neither Cleveland nor the Celtics have allowed themselves to be led by conventional wisdom of sports reporters they will be masters of their own destiny in these game.

This is a lesson that President Trump has learned in regard to the political press and pundits. Would that the rest of the GOP would figure the same thing out.

I’m sure the NBA was just delighted by this statement from Lebron:

James, who stumped for Hillary Clinton last year on the campaign trail, sat contemplating for a few moments, before chalking up his state’s “wrong” choice to a lack of education.

“I don’t think a lot of people were educated,” he responded. “That’s one of the biggest problems we have when it becomes vote time. People are just not educated on either the individual or what’s going on in the state of the world. They make choices and say things that’s uneducated.”

Because nothing sells the advertising that makes the NBA the profit machine that it is like declaring the half of the public that voted Trump uneducated.

Now I like James’ He’s one of the hardest workers in basketball, and in my opinion the way he carried his team down 3-1 to a championship was the greatest display of leadership and effort ever on a basketball court, a signature moment for the NBA. And I think he is both wise and correct in noting that “his voice is more important than my knee” in explaining why he won’t be protesting during games.

But if you are a fan in Ohio who voted Trump, as much as you might admire James’ skill you aren’t going to invest your money in someone who disrespect you and yours.

I think Allahpundit has it pegged:

when asked elsewhere if he thinks there’ll be demonstrations by other players, he says he wouldn’t be surprised. The “take a knee” thing may be just getting started. Good news for Trump.

May the NBA and James like the NFL be happy in the choice they’ve taken.

Last year the NFL tried to spend an entire season pretending that the protests against the National Anthem were not hurting attendance while trying to appease players who decided they’d want to be social justice warriors of the pampered 1%.

This season attendance and rating continue to drop as athletes decide to focus on protest rather than play and the athletes doubled down asking the NFL to dedicate a month to protest.

Four NFL players submitted a 10-page memo to the league’s top officials asking for “overt league support” and a month of anti-police activism.

The 10-page memo was obtained by Yahoo Sports and was endorsed by Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, Philadelphia Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles’ Torrey Smith and former NFL player Anquan Boldin. The memo was sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent.

Bennett has sat during the national anthem during games and raises a fist on the field after making plays in protest of the police.

The memo asks for the league to make the month of November as “activism awareness month” such as the league does with breast cancer.

This was a bombshell aimed directly at the blue collar white fan base that Roger Goodell would like to avoid, but alas for him a more media savvy person recognized that NFL base that is getting angry at pampered athletes dissing the country and law are upsetting his base too.

Ed Morrissey saw where this was going:

After this, what will be more likely: NFL players decide to obey Trump, or NFL players make a special show of defying Trump? Given his relative popularity in the urban areas that support these teams, bet heavily on the latter. And even those who might have eschewed protesting during the anthem before this for reasons of patriotism will now have incentive to show solidarity with their teammates, knowing full well that Trump’s comments will put pressure on them to show that they’re not going to take orders from him.

This fad may have petered out naturally after a few more months; Trump’s all but guaranteed that we’ll get it through the 2020 election. And that may mean that NFL players will need to keep it going through 2024, given the unpopularity of the protests everywhere else. It’s a win-win, I guess.

Sure enough the NFL commissioner who wasn’t willing to critique his players was more than willing to hit Trump

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell fired back at President Trump on Saturday for encouraging league owners to remove players who take a knee during the national anthem, saying Trump’s “divisive comments” show “an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL.”

Oddly enough I don’t recall him calling the protests “divisive”, nor complaining about the “unfortunate lack of respect” for police or the country and the flag.

Furthermore on Friday another story came out about Stephen Curry saying he’s not going to the White House over Trump and the Warriors hedging about going 

”I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Myers said. ”It’s not as clear as, well I assume some people think it is and some people think it isn’t. So, from our opinion, my opinion, it deserves a proper forum. It deserves the right amount of thought, and so when we make the decision we at least put in the right amount of time to make it.”

Stephen Curry has been outspoken about not attending, saying at media day Friday, ”I don’t want to go … my beliefs stay the same.”

So the President, understanding that this is another gimme for his base, decided to make things easier for them by taking the decision out of their hands.

Now by this time it should have been pretty obvious that the President is trolling the left here and hoping beyond hope that they choose to bite because he understand that to his base, particularly in state that the left needs if they want to win in 2020 can’t afford to upset those voters who decided to abandon them.

So if they were smart they would have let it go.

They Didn’t

And the msm has piled on with some disingenuous breast beating:

Trump knows this. He is an avid consumer of TV and culture. Which means that he is purposely playing at and with racial animus here. That is a dark thing to do as the leader of the United States. And something he deserves to be condemned for.

This is from CNN which has spent the last 5 years playing the race card and doing all they can to divide the country.

However some people get it like the folks at Powerline:

Liberals have responded with predictable hysteria in defense of Colin Kaepernick’s (and others’) First Amendment rights. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement that criticized Trump without, however, mentioning the National Anthem issue, which suggests how sensitive it is to the league’s hierarchy.

And Rich Lowry:

He takes a commonly held sentiment — most people don’t like the NFL protests — and states it in an inflammatory way guaranteed to get everyone’s attention and generate outrage among his critics. When those critics lash back at him, Trump is put in the position of getting attacked for a fairly commonsensical view.

and Allahpundit who while he sees a silver lining for the left as well

All of which … works out pretty well for both sides. Liberals are forever grumbling that pro athletes aren’t as “socially conscious” as they should be given their influence; James and Curry have the cachet to change that, and to do so at the expense of Democrats’ least favorite politician. Trump fans will hate every minute of that and some apolitical fans will grow annoyed at having politics crammed into yet another form of entertainment, and the backlash will benefit Trump. As a matter of raw populism, you can’t do better than the white-identity-politics president in a war of words with a group of black superstar athletes defending another black athlete known for complaining about how oppressive America is. I’d bet a kidney that Steve Bannon, Trump’s populist id, couldn’t be more excited about last night’s shot at anthem protests and today’s fallout.

but forgets that this helps Trump in places that he needs to win again and hurts him in places that he’s doesn’t, while helping the left in places that they are already winning in and hurts them in swing states and districts.

Because nothing is going to win over white working class voters than a bunch of rich athletes talking about how oppressed they are by the country that made them rich.

The left doesn’t seem to get this or if they do, they are too afraid of getting any single part of their fragile coalition together to risk keeping silent, they don’t want to see a bunch of primaries where they are flanked on the left.

What’s really ironic here is Trump is using the tactics of the left against them and playing by the same rules that they normally do or as Kurt Schlichter put it

The left will miss the old rules come election day.

Update: Instalanche, thanks Ed. You’ll want to see these two follow up posts

The NFL Lost my wife today

and

The NFL Question Every 2018 Red State Democrat Candidate Now has to Answer

Also I had Robert Stacy McCain stay with me for a week, we hit Harvard, Clark, UMass Amherst, He did TV in Worcester, gave speeches in Lexington and did an event on feminism in Leominster. You can find it all here.

Update 2: Guess what NFL shirt is the #1 seller for the Pittsburgh steelers

or buy Amazon and give the NFL nothing

Plus the ultimate NFL twitter irony

Update 2: “America Good”


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Street gang temple, Chicago's South Side
Street gang temple,
Chicago’s South Side

By John Ruberry

This morning on Fox News Donald Trump spokesman Ben Carson said, “If we are going to make America great we cannot have large pockets of dysfunction.”

Carson was responding to questions about the latest mainstream media tantrum about the Republican nominee Tweeting about Friday the murder of Nykea Aldridge in a violent Chicago neighborhood, the cousin of Chicago Bulls player and longtime all-star Dwayne Wade, where he indelicately predicted a groundswell of support for his campaign.

But as I remarked in this space a month ago, Trump is the first Republican presidential nominee in memory to make a concerted effort to appeal to black voters and he correctly points out that the Democratic Party, whom African Americans have reflexively voted for en masse since the 1930s, is failing inner city blacks. A few days before Aldridge murder Trump was offered this statement by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, “Did you know that murders in Chicago are up 50 percent this year from last year? And they can’t solve it.”CoJCZVfUMAAMJlm

The political newcomer replied, likely correctly, that the wrong people are in charge in Chicago and based on a conservation that the political newcomer had with an unnamed senior Chicago police officer, that violence in America’s third largest city could end in a week. Okay, that’s a major piece of hyperbole, there will always be some violence everywhere. What police department is able to prevent an angry person who hits a spouse over the head with a frying pan during an argument in their kitchen? On the other hand, a noticeable drop in Chicago violence of course is a possible, and of course, a desirable goal.

Detroit hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1963. Chicago hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1933. Both are dominated by “large pockets of dysfunction.” Some Chicago politicians have a cozy relationship with street gang leaders.

It took a Republican, Rudy Giuliani, to turn around New York City, which was believed to be ungovernable prior to his two terms as mayor.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

There has been plenty of self righteous glee by our friends on the left concerning this decision by the NBA:

“Our week-long schedule of All-Star events and activities is intended to be a global celebration of basketball, our league, and the values for which we stand, and to bring together all members of the NBA community — current and former players, league and team officials, business partners, and fans. While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.”

The statement said the league will announce an alternate venue for next year’s event in the coming weeks.

USA Today reports the CEO of golden state has a great impact on the decision:

In a poignant address, Golden State Warriors president and chief operating officer Rick Welts, 63, who is openly gay, explained his meaningful and lifelong affiliation with the NBA and told league owners he didn’t feel comfortable attending the All-Star Game in Charlotte if the law remained as is.

His comfort level which young girls sharing a bathroom with people having fully developed male genitalia was not addressed so rather than the media spin like this

As long as HB2 in its current form remains in place, though, that could get increasingly difficult to do, Burton said. Aside from replacing the revenue from next year’s All-Star Game, the bigger concern is that other big sports and entertainment organizations from the NFL to NASCAR are going to reconsider doing business in the state now that the NBA has put a stake in the ground.

“This is going to spread until this law is probably repealed,” he predicted.

and the comfort level of the incredibly rich let me ask the question nobody seems to want to address:

At what age should a young girl be compelled, against her will by law to share a bathroom with a person who has fully developed male genitalia?

Age 15? Age 12, Age 7? Age 3?

I think that before we listen to lectures on morality from the NBA or any other organization that wants to signal their virtue to the world, or at least to the media culture at North Carolina’s expense, we must insist on an answer to that question.

I think I can safely predict we won’t get one, because that question instead of dealing with ephemeral feelings puts the actual reality of the issue directly before them.


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The only thing Weaver knows about a curveball is that he couldn’t hit one.

Jim Palmer

Some groundbreaking news from the world of sports:

Becky Hammon, who is retiring this month from a 16-season playing career in the W.N.B.A., will join the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach next season, the N.B.A. team announced Tuesday.

Hammon, 37, becomes the second woman to serve on an N.B.A. coaching staff. The first was Lisa Boyer, who was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ staff in the 2001-02 season. Boyer, however, worked part time and was not paid by the team. Hammon has been hired to a full-time, paid position.

A lot of people will make a big fuss about this and the questions will come:  Will the players  look at her differently because she’s a woman (and as a fairly young and attractive woman at that)?  Will she get the respect of other coaches?  How much of a microscope will she be under?  Since he never played the NBA game can she coach at that level?

My thought is there is one answer to (almost) all of the questions involved:

Earl Weaver.

For those of you who don’t know Earl Weaver career as a manager started fairly young at age 38.  He managed 17 years for the Orioles winning one world series and losing three.

Weaver was known as a fiery and combative manager who was often ejected form games, nevertheless brought the best out of his players finishing his career with a .583 lifetime winning percentage and getting a spot in the baseball hall of fame as a manager.

As a player it was a different story.

Weaver was signed as an infielder in the 40’s but never managed to get above AA baseball before breaking in as a minor league manager in the mid 50’s.

Never once during that time was he capable of playing at a major league level.

It didn’t take long to discover that whatever he lacked as a player physically didn’t take one thing away from his ability to run a team.  He managed 12 seasons (11 1/2 really)  in the minors winning three championships before becoming first a  coach in Baltimore then manager.

And that brings us back to Becky Hammon.

Hammon has played basketball on the international and Olympic level in addition to her many years in the WNBA and there wasn’t a single solitary day during her entire career that she would have been a fit player for the NBA at any position on any team.  Anyone who tells you different is pushing an agenda.  If you don’t believe me consider what this WNBA star had to say on the subject when asked:

People ask me all the time, ‘Will there ever be a woman player in the NBA?…To be honest, no. There’s differences. The guys are too big and too strong; that’s just the way it is. 

However the job of a coach is not to be as big as Hasheem Thabeet or to be able to set a pick against Paul Pierce, nor to out rebound Robin Lopez, Block Zack Levine, outrun  nor to outrun Carmelo Anthony or defend Lebron James.

The job of a coach is to be able to observe and evaluate their players in order to help the be ready to set that pick, be in position for that rebound or block and train them to be ready to outrun or defend a better player, if not through their physical gifts then by guile and anticipation.  A coach needs to be able to read a game as it’s being played in order to help said players make adjustments to allow them to do what is necessary to win on a court.

Hammon had the advantage of observing the players on San Antonio closely for a year, she is familiar with their strengths and weaknesses.

I don’t claim for one moment to be familiar enough  with Becky Hammon to speak to her grasp of the game, but apparently a lot of people who are could see she was a student of basketball from way back:

We all figured it would be for the Colorado State women’s basketball program, her alma mater, the school she put on the map in the late 1990s with her sweet outside shot and clever ballhandling. In fact, there were even rumblings around Fort Collins back in the day that the CSU athletic department had made some sort of handshake, wink-wink deal with the dynamic local star: The moment you retire from playing, we’ll have an open spot in the athletic department — guaranteed.

The reason we all knew Hammon would become a coach is actually quite simple. She could see a play once and know all its options and offshoots, categorize them from most to least effective. And she could do this for every position on the court, instantly — as if the X’s and O’s had been coded into her DNA. Most of the time, the team’s coach approached Hammon for her insight — rarely was it the other way around.

The San Antonio Spurs just won an NBA title and are looking to repeat, nobody is going to tell me they would have hired this woman if they didn’t believe she would be a valuable asset to the team at an assistant coach level.  I see no reason why she should not succeed as the WNBA player I quoted above once said on a woman coaching in the NBA:

But when it comes to things of the mind — game-planning, coaching — there’s no reason why women can’t be in the mix or shouldn’t be in the mix.”

The woman who said that was Becky Hammon, it will be up to her to show if she is that theoretical woman.

I have a funny feeling that if she succeeds and someday gets a head coach position somewhere behind the pearly gates Earl Weaver will be smiling.

…assuming he wasn’t ejected from heaven for arguing with St. Peter that is.

Closing thought: while one can’t preclude the possibility that one of Earl Weaver’s players might have hit on him over his decades long career as a manager there is little doubt that Miss Hammon players would find her more attractive than Earl’s found him.  Hammon’s is no supermodel but she is, in my opinion cute, is certainly fit and she has a similar background and similar interests as the players she is coaching which would make her very compatible to any of them social setting.

It will be interesting to see if or when a player on that team might find himself listening to Hammon the coach while at the same time while thinking of Hammon the woman and how that situation is handled.

Rev Al Sharpton we’re going after advertisers, saying, “How can you advertise with a team owned by a man with this kind of attitude.

Meet the Press April 27th 2014

For the last two days we’ve hit the NAACP concerning the Sterling situation. His known racism wasn’t enough to deny him a spot on their dias.

But Sterling wasn’t scheduled to be on that stage alone.

There were a long list of people scheduled to be honored that night, Patricia Westbrook, Dr. Genevieve Shepherd, Mordena Moore, Angela Gipson, Nester Watkins, Leland Spencer, Javier Angulo, Shannon Brown, Charles Patton, Mayor Eric Garcetti ….

…and the Rev Al Sharpton.

Now I’m sure it’s conceivable that some of those people on that list of award winners might not have been aware of Mr. Sterling’s past, but the same Reverend Al who was sitting on the set on Meet the Press deploring the actions of the NBA the day the story broke can’t credibly make that claim.

Contrast him with Mary Ann Glendon who when confronted with a situation at Notre Dame that clashed with her sense of morality choose her faith and ethics

Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.

It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony.

And she did this where abandoning her principles would have won her points with the media.

Imagine, just for a moment if Al Sharpton had gone the Mary Ann Glendon route.

Picture, Al Sharpton, at any time before the TMZ tape was public writing a letter to the LA chapter of the NAACP mimicking Ms. Glendon’s letter to Notre Dame:

When you informed me that the LA Chapter of the NAACP had selected me to be their man of the year, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the knowledge of what the NAACP has meant the country so I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, and of an organization that has done so much to fight for racial equality for over a century.

But I also note that Mr. Donald Sterling is scheduled to receive a lifetime achievement award. I know of Donald Sterling and his opinions on race and I’m concerned that if I share the dais with him to accept this award that it would serve to suggest groups like the NAACP should disregard his actions and have an unfortunate ripple effect.

It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Man of the Year Award or participate in the May 16th NAACP LA event.

If Al Sharpton had done this he,  unlike Glendon, would have been recognized and praised as a man of integrity who placed the value of the reputation of both the NAACP & himself over any passing honor.

That would have required character and courage after all the left is not forgiving of those who expose their dirty laundry.  These are qualities Sharpton doesn’t have.

Much easier for him to go along to get along,  after all until the release of the TMZ recording there was no reason to believe the general public knew there was anything wrong with him and the NAACP sharing a stage with Donald Sterling or accepting an award together May 15th with no one the wiser except perhaps a passing mention the next day on MSNBC that Rev Al was named man of the year by the LA chapter of the NAACP.

But in the end it’s worked out well for Sharpton after all.  He is getting plenty of air time, he’s energizing his followers and nobody is noting the cowardice or the hypocrisy

At least nobody on the left.

Update:  It seems rather than Sharpton learning from Glendon the NAACP has learned from Sharpton.

**************************************

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by baldilocks

Two recent “public outrage” issues in this year’s news have demonstrated that many people—even baldilocksconservatives—have the notion that no one may abridge “free speech.”

The only law related to free speech is in the U.S. Constitution, specifically, Article I of the Bill of Rights. Stated therein:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech. Therefore, if you are not or I am not Congress, we are unable make any law abridging free speech. If a private corporation or a private association is not Congress, it is unable to make any law abridging freedom. Therefore, the 1st Amendment does not address what any parties which are not Congress may or may not do with respect to freedom of speech. Again, none of the parties mentioned in the cases above are Congress, nor are they any other branch of government.  Each case involved something called a contract between private parties.

A contract is a written promise. Contracts can have all kinds of terms, some of which may involve what parties say in public. Other terms can stipulate how a party can react when the other contracting party violates any of the terms. Things like termination and fines are examples of such penalties, and you can bet that both A&E and the NBA listed these things on the contracts they offered to the Robertsons and to Sterling.

Observers are free to give their opinions on what they think and how they feel about these public controversies and their outcomes, but, in the end, it comes down to what was promised contractually and whether any of those promises were broken. If Duck Dynasty fans or A&E fans or NBA fans or even Donald Sterling fans don’t like how these private parties have resolved their contract problems, fans are free to no longer be fans. But, not being Congress, neither A&E nor the NBA have violated Phil Robertson’s or Donald Sterling’s 1st Amendment rights, respectively.

Each entity is free to act according to the terms of their respective contracts. And, you and I are free not to give them our money if we don’t like what they do.

At least for now…

(More on the Donald Sterling topic here.)

AFTERTHOUGHT: A&E fired Phil Robertson for his comments, then re-instated him; the NBA banned Donald Sterling for life. Both A&E and the NBA reacted to the sentiments of their respect core consumers. Business is business.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

steve eggBy Steve Eggleston

That is the question we in southeast Wisconsin are going to be starting to ask after the events of the past week. Herb Kohl, a former Democrat Senator whose family founded Kohl’s Department Store, sold the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks to a pair of New York-based hedge fund managers for $550 million, with a promise from the two of them to not only keep the Bucks in Milwaukee, but to kick in $100 million of their own toward a new arena for, mainly, the Bucks. Kohl has also pledged to kick in $100 million, which means that before taxes, he made $423 million on his $17 million investment back in 1985.

The Bucks are the primary tenants of the BMO Harris Bradley Center, which was a $90 million gift from the Pettit family back in 1988 as part of their futile dream of bringing a NHL franchise to Milwaukee as an upgrade to their minor-league hockey team, the Admirals. The Bradley Center has served the Bucks, Admirals, and the Marquette Warriors Golden Eagles well over the years, with it still (barely) modern enough to host the opening weekend of games in the recently-concluded NCAA men’s basketball tournament. However, the “hockey-first” arena has become quite antiquated compared to the average NBA arena, and the building has been deemed too small and too expensive to remodel like other late 1980s-early 1990s arenas have been, and the preliminary cost has already jumped by $100 million to $500 million.

I will admit that a NBA arena isn’t cheap – the 11 most-recent multipurpose basketball/hockey arenas built for existing/expansion NBA franchises not located in Brooklyn, going back to 1997, cost an inflation-adjusted average of $353 million, with three crossing the inflation-adjusted $500 million threshold (though none crossed the current-dollar $500 million threshold). Indeed, the newest arena to be built, in Sacramento, is expected to come in at $448 million, complete with a practice facility (something the Bucks presumably wouldn’t need), but not an ice rink for hockey.

Naming rights, given Milwaukee is a very small market with virtually no local corporations left, probably won’t bring in much more than $30 million. Assuming no other private money, that’s at least $270 million (plus interest) that will be from the public.

The economic development often promised by new arenas and stadiums almost inevitably never comes, especially when the new facility is in the same general area as the old. Indeed, the Bradley Center is a prime example of that failure. The city of Milwaukee thought it could get a restaurant to go into and stay in a new parking structure across the street because the Bradley Center represented a significant capacity upgrade from the MECCA Arena (now US Cellular Arena) for the then-competitive Bucks. That worked after a fashion…until the Bucks became uncompetitive, with the space becoming a restaurant graveyard. Worse, that was the only bit of new development that could conceivably be tied to the Bradley Center.

Granted, the attendance is still higher than it was at the Arena, which does help out the thriving Water Street nightlife scene a few blocks east. Unfortunately, even if the Bucks were to return to competitiveness, it is unlikely that many more than were showing up in the Bradley Center’s/Bucks’ heyday will be heading into the downtown.

That leaves the $270 million question – how many of the 16,000-18,000 who show up for the average Bucks game would still head over to Water Street if there were no NBA basketball? Something tells me it would be a significant portion, which would make the subsidy a poor decision.

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