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New York Knicks fan Spike Lee, and other fans from major cities have a lot to cheer for as Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Miami, Chicago, and Dallas all have marquee players. But fans of small market teams are pretty much left out in the cold. Photo by Jeff Lewis
In the short term the Anthony trade is great for the league, but it does show major issues within the NBA. Issues that the NFL does not have. By Jason LewisSentinel Sports Editor
On the surface the Carmelo Anthony trade from Denver to New York is great for the league because it makes the Knicks relevant for the first time in decades. New York is the basketball mecca (supposedly), and it is the largest market in the nation. Having a title contending team in that city is huge for the NBA. New York being irrelevant is not good for a league that is popular because of its star power. With Anthony joining Amare Stoudemire in New York, every major NBA city has super star players. Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Chicago, Miami, and Dallas all have marquee players, and they all are in a position to make championship runs. The NBA is top heavy, and it is stacked in the right cities, but as good as that sounds for the NBA right now, it really is not a great thing. The NFL is by far the best league in this country, and it is not even close. Compared to the NBA, MLB, and the NHL, the NFL is printing money. Having stacked teams in major cities is good for the NBA right now, but that is not how the NFL is built. The NFL has their talent spread throughout their 32 franchises, and every team has a chance to build a winner. The NFL’s Carolina Panthers, who play in Charlotte, only won two games last season and they had the worst record. But not too long ago they were in the Super Bowl, and with the right moves they can be a playoff team within a couple years. The NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats have been a horrible franchise since they entered the NBA in 2004, and at this point there is not much hope for them to be competitive any time soon. The NBA is a star driven league, where as the NFL is a team driven league, and every team has the ability to build a winner quickly. There are two problems with the NBA. The first problem is that there are too many franchises, and the league does not have enough talent to support 30 teams. With “super” teams forming in Miami and now in New York, teams in Cleveland, Charlotte, Toronto, Sacramento, and a number of other cities, cannot compete when all of the top players are trying to make their way to the big cities. The New Orleans Hornets All Star point guard Chris Paul is already making his plans to leave the team when his contract is up, and he has made it clear that he wants to join Stoudemire and Anthony in New York. Utah All Star point guard Deron Williams is not expected to stay with the Jazz when his contract expires. Contracting a good six teams is the only way to save the watered down product that the NBA has. There are some markets where the NBA simply does not need to be in, like New Orleans, who is one of many franchises that is claiming that they are losing money. Less teams means more talent for the existing teams. The NBA first started to slide in the mid 1990s, when six new franchises were created. The other problem with the NBA is the guaranteed contracts. The NFL does not have guaranteed contracts, so when a player is under performing and hurting the team, he will be cut and a better player can be brought in. NFL teams are not stuck with dead weight, or bad contracts, which allows them to rebuild their teams quickly. NBA teams with under performing players with big guaranteed contacts, which every team seems to have, have almost no chance of building a winner. Teams cannot get rid of players who are not helping the team win games, all they can do is trade them to teams for their under performing players. Most middle of the road teams are simply out of luck because they are not in a position to get a good draft pick who could turn their team around, and they will not be able to trade for an All Star player. Even the bottom feeders are in a horrible position, because if they can draft the savior, chances are he will not stay long enough for that team to win a title, and the team will not be able to attract the best free agents to support their super star. That is exactly what happened in Cleveland. They had LeBron James, but none of the top free agents would go play in Cleveland. Ron Artest was courted by James and the Cavs, but instead he chose to play for the Lakers, in Los Angeles. Eventually James bolted out of Cleveland, leaving that franchise in shambles. The only small market team that was able to beat the system is the San Antonio Spurs, who lucked into the No. 1 pick in the 1998 draft, which ended up being Tim Duncan. Savvy drafting landed them Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. No other small market team has been able to do what the Spurs have done. A new labor agreement needs to be reached for there to be a NBA season next year. If the NBA wants to give their franchises the ability to make deals to improve their teams, they need to get rid of fully guaranteed contracts. It is working great in the NFL, where Green Bay and Pittsburgh, both small market teams, played in the Super Bowl, and many teams are able to bounce back quickly from poor seasons by rebuilding their rosters. The NBA is great in the big markets, but across the league, the NBA is not in good shape.
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