Wednesday, January 15, 2003

SILLY: Marty Burns in SI today picks the top five owners in the NBA:

1. Mavericks: He might drive David Stern crazy, but Mark Cuban is committed to winning. He pays his players and coaches, and he gives the fans a good show.
2. Kings: The Maloof Brothers are two rich playboys who don’t mind sharing in their good fortune. Like Cuban, they enjoy the game like real fans.
3. Blazers: Paul Allen hasn’t received much bang for his league-high payrolls the past few years, but at least he’s trying.
4. Knicks: Few clubs have the deep pockets of Cablevision. In the past they’ve been willing to spend to keep their high-priced corporate clients happy.
5. Bucks: Despite limited resources and a small market, Sen. Herb Kohl flashed some serious power of the purse in signing George Karl, Ray Allen and Tim Thomas.

I agree with Cubes and the Maloofs, but how are the Knicks and Blazers on there? Both of those teams are woefully mismanaged--the Blazers' style of assembling the biggest rogue's gallery they can find has never produced in the playoffs, while the Knicks' willingness to spend barrels of cash on mediocre players is just amusing and pathetic (though it does my fannish heart good.) How does Jerry Buss not make that list? He doesn't blow the cash, but he does have a commitment to winning. The same with the new Steinbrenner-backed Rod Thorn-administered Nets ownership. I would replace spots 3 and 4 up there with the Lakers and Nets, plus maybe whoever owns the Spurs (for being able to succeed in a small market for as long as they have) or whoever owns the Grizzlies now and hired Jerry West. Yep.

I have less of a beef with the 5 worst owners:

1. Clippers: Owner Donald Sterling has let so many players move away, he ought to work for Century 21. But at least his Hollywood friends get to sit courtside.
2. Bulls: They broke up a dynasty in order to slash payroll. Then they didn’t have the good sense to cut Michael Jordan into the action as an owner.
3. Cavaliers: The Gund Family let go of Andre Miller because they didn’t want to pay him a maximum contract. They say the club is not for sale, but ...
4. Celtics: OK, so they’ve got new ownership now. But former owner Paul Gaston makes this list for cutting costs (Rodney Rogers) just before the sale.
5. Hornets: George Shinn made a mess of the situation in Charlotte, then spurned Jordan’s offer to buy in. Now he’s letting Paul Silas twist in the wind.

The (Other) Donald has resumed his cretinous non-spending ways and the Clippers are doomed yet again--so that's a very safe pick. Sterling is always in the running for the Worst Owner In All Of Sports award, along with the Bidwill brothers and that guy who owns the Bengals. The Bulls are a good choice, I like the Cavs so I don't think the Gunds are doing that badly, the Celtics have always had a rotating ownership--I'm not sure how bad or good that is--and George Shinn--I mean, he got what he wanted, and the Hornets are pretty good, so maybe he isn't that bad an owner after all.

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