Lakers' Time Warner Cable deal shouldn't be held against them
The team's 20-year agreement with Time Warner Cable, starting next year, didn't just anger Lakers fans who only have access to network channels. The deal angered other NBA owners, who believe it gives the Purple & Gold another unfair advantage. The contract, which Times columnist Bill Plaschke reported could be worth as much as $3 billion, won't just enrich the Lakers. It may enrich the small-market owners, who believe that they're entitled to revenue sharing.
"That Lakers TV deal scared the hell out of everybody," one league official told ESPN's Brian Windhorst. "Everyone thought there is no way to compete with that. Then everyone started thinking that it wasn't fair that they didn’t have to share it with the teams they're playing against."
The tension illustrates the fallacy behind the notion that revenue sharing would ensure competitive balance. TrueHoop's Tom Haberstroh provides an in-depth analysis indicating that smart spending and draft picks ensure a team's success more than competitive balance.
But the jealousy over the Lakers' television deal also points to what should be a misconception among some owners -- that they're entitled to such revenue without making the smart business moves and taking the risks that ultimately ensure such a lucrative deal.
The Lakers may have announced the cable deal on Feb. 14, but what made it possible came long before. Such a deal, like the Lakers' 10 titles under Jerry Buss' watch, was a product of how well he's run the organization since 1979 when he bought the Lakers, the Forum, the NHL's Kings and a 13,000-acre Kern County ranch for $67.5 million.
That includes making smart draft picks, such as selecting Magic Johnson with the first pick in 1979 and securing the draft rights for Kobe Bryant in 1996. That includes hiring successful people, such as former General Manager Jerry West or Coach Phil Jackson. Of course, money and the L.A. market haven't hurt either, both proving instrumental in securing stars such as Shaquille O'Neal and plenty of role players and team employees eager to be associated with the Purple & Gold.
But one only has to look at the Clippers to know that money and the Hollywood lifestyle don't guarantee success. For all the penny-pinching, poor management and bad culture Donald Sterling has passed down, Buss has laid down a solid foundation with a healthy mix of risk-taking, spending and smart decision-making.
There's no reason why any NBA team besides the Lakers should benefit from such leadership.
-- Mark Medina
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