Wednesday, May 30, 2007

An agent, criticizing the NBA, says we're not in Dodger-land any more

Professional basketball in 2007 is nothing like professional baseball in 1957, an obvious observation that nonetheless deserves repeating in light of continued claims that the arrival of the basketball Nets could "heal the wound" left by the departure of the baseball Dodgers.

As I pointed out last December after attending a Nets game at Continental Airlines Arena in the Meadolands, like most professional sports events, it featured gimmicky lameness (or perpetual energy), with an unwillingness to allow dead air. And hoops stars have their own parking lots, rather than take the subway to work.

Scott Turner of Fans for Fair Plan elaborated in November 2005 on "Why The Nets Could Never Be The Dodgers;" among the reasons are the relative cost of tickets and longevity of the players. (On the other hand, a snazzy new arena might go along way to making Nets fans forget the Meadowlands. Such a new arena will come first in Newark.)

An agent laments

In his recent book, Taking Shots: Tall Tales, Bizarre Battles, and the Incredible Truth About the NBA, veteran agent Keith Glass picks up a similar argument, railing against the way money has taken over the game, as played by the NBA, or National Basketball Association.

He writes:
The NBA is too powerful. Players make too much money. The league sells too many products. Many coaches and administrators seem to have all the answers, and yet the game itself has become a selfish, tedious, and colossal bore.

The Dodgers comparison

Glass later chooses to compare the contemporary NBA with, yes, the Dodgers:
Don't get me wrong--today's players deserve to be paid... However, like many other slices of our culture, the salaries given to athletes today are like a pendulum. That pendulum has apparently swung too far, and the salaries bear no resemblance to reality.

Both of my parents were born and raised in Brooklyn. My mother was an avid Brooklyn Dodgers fan. She would tell us that as she walked around her neighborhood, she would see Duke Snider in the candy store, or Jackie Robinson at the supermarket, or Pee Wee Reese at the cleaners. They were quite literally part of the community.

Today, obviously, this is not the case. Professonal athletes are cloistered away, surrounding by their families, agents, publicists, business manager, personal assistants, drivers, and, in many cases, people from their past who are just hoping for some kind of title to justify their presence. Which of these people being "fed" by the player do you think is going to tell him about reality?


The Nets on Brooklyn

It's not quite fair to hold Nets players to off-the-cuff comments made when they learned the team was set to move, but let's recall a 1/22/04 New York Times article headlined From Texas, Nets See New Landscape, which didn't exactly point to a jones for Brooklyn:
Most players said they wanted to remain in New Jersey, mostly so they would not have longer commutes. But they also look forward to the possibility of a new arena. When the Nets travel around the league, they see the plush locker rooms and five-star facilities enjoyed by other teams.

That's not exactly a ringing endorsement. Then again, most Nets players, including stars Vince Carter and Jason Kidd, may not be around by 2009, or 2010, the best-case target dates for the arena.

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