Friday, September 30, 2011

Dear Kobe Bryant,

For months, I've been on the edge of my seat wondering whether or not there will be a 2011/2012 NBA season. While most of my friends and followers don't care (although, if they do, it's probably because it means less cussing in my Twitter timeline - maybe), it's important to me. And while you may not follow basketball closely (and that's okay), let me point out that not having a 2012 season will still impact you financially. Stick with me through the basketball talk and I'll explain.

I'm passionate about a lot of things, but Celtics basketball takes the cake. I was raised to root for Boston regardless of the sport, but basketball has always been my favorite. I've rooted for the Celts since I was knee-high on Lucky the Leprechaun.

That being said, I'm pissed as hell right now at my team and every other player in the NBA. I'm not hopeful that there will be a season at all. It'd be nice if the players would pull their heads out of their asses today and finally make some progress in their bargaining sessions, but in all honesty, I'm not expecting anything. Why?


We're dealing with thirty teams full of players whose egos are bigger than the names they sport on their chests. That's, on average, 400 people who've been told they're the best of the best for years and are paid hefty salaries to back up the claims. They skirt around legal issues and, if we're being honest, moral ones, too, on the grounds that they're untouchable. In their minds, they're worth seven and eight figure paychecks. They've earned it.

This, my dear players, is a reminder that you haven't earned shit, except my respect as a player. I want to see you play ball. Period. I don't care what you buy, how you party, where you vacation or how big of a rock your fiancé wears on her left hand. You're here to play basketball. Leave the theatrics and drama off the court. You weren't recruited for that.

And let's discuss for a moment these salaries you're asking for. Since they vary from player to player and team to team, we'll, for the sake of argument, discuss Kobe Bryant's salary. He makes $25,000,000 per season. That's not counting any bonuses, brands or side work. That's JUST the pay he gets for being a Laker. Broken down, the man makes $6,351 a minute. He's on the court for a minute? $6,351. He's on the bench? $6,351. He's in the locker room? You guessed it, SIX FUCKING THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED FIFTY ONE DOLLARS per MINUTE.

PER MINUTE!!!!!!!!

Do you realize, the average high school basketball coach makes less than $25k a year? Kobe makes that in less than 4 minutes.

And you bastards want MORE?!

Make no mistake. I love basketball and honestly, I don't know what I'll do with myself this winter if there's not a season, but I think it's exactly what these players need to shake up their lives a little bit. However, I'm torn from a financial standpoint, too. If there's not a season, there will be a huge financial impact on the entire nation.

Let's look at Staples Center, shall we?

The average ticket price, per game, is $113 and the revenue the Staples Center takes in just from the Lakers is $214,000,000. Without the Lakers bringing in that money, do you honestly think Jerry Buss and Phillip Anschutz are going to plunk down nearly a quarter of a billion dollars from their own accounts to cover the losses? I don't hardly think so.

So where's that money coming from?

You guessed it: us.

In the form of concert tickets, other sports and non-entertainment related events. Which means instead of spending $120 on those Rihanna tickets, you're gonna be spending $250 (or more). That $8 beer just shot up to $15. Because regardless of what's going on in L.A., the bills still have to be paid. The contracts with concession companies like Levy Restaurants (who handle the concessions for over thirty arenas, not just the Staples Center) are still legally binding. If the Staples Center and Levy  have worked out $X for their service, it doesn't matter if they handle 250 events or 200, they're still paid the same. And, if Levy isn't making money from canceled games due to a lost NBA season, you can bet they've got a clause in the contract that says the arenas have to cover those losses. Bet your $15 beer just shot to $30.

There's also the less-direct impact of businesses in the areas around arenas: hotels, parking companies, restaurants. We also can't forget airlines and other travel-related companies.

This? could be pretty financially catastrophic.

Do you think Kobe Bryant gives a shit? Nope. He's over in Italy right now working out the details for a $3 million dollar deal for forty days of playing ball. He couldn't give two shits about your $12 hot dog back in L.A.

The saddest part about all of this? My opinion (or yours, for that matter), isn't going to change a damn thing. That's the part that pisses me off the most. There's nothing we can do.

(The title of this blog and my choice to use Kobe Bryant, the L.A. Lakers and the Staples Center in Los Angeles was for generalities, not to single out a particular player, team or arena. Blah blah and all that legal disclaimer crap.)

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