View Full Version : ESPN Insider 8/4/04 (warning it's written by Brown)

08-04-2004, 04:10 PM
Parity not always a good thing

By Terry Brown
NBA Insider
Wednesday, August 4
Updated: August 4
10:58 AM ET

Italy defeats the Dream Team, the Pistons dismantle the Lakers for the NBA Title, and the Finals MVP is a point guard who has played for five teams in seven seasons.

So this is what parity feels like?

Before we begin a new season, while still dancing on the Lakers' grave, maybe we should take a look at what the NBA is losing along the way.

With the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, the NBA recorded its highest-rated playoff game in cable history. TNT received a 7.3 rating by reaching 6.5 million homes in Game 6. With the Lakers in the NBA Finals, the NBA received a 13.8 rating by reaching 22 million homes in the final game of the series. This number was 123 percent higher than last year's final game between the Spurs and Nets.

And you thought it was about the Pistons?

The Eastern Conference Finals between the Pistons and Pacers drew a 5.0 rating and reached 4.4 million viewers.

Imagine what would have happened if the the Pacers, with an Indianapolis metro population of 1.5 million, played the Timberwolves, with a Minneapolis metro population of three million, instead of the Lakers (metro population of 12.7 million) and the Pistons (metro population of 4.4 million).

Imagine what the ratings would have been if the Knicks, with a New York metro population of 18.6 million, had somehow made it to the NBA Finals against the Lakers.

Of course, these numbers weren't just for the playoffs.

The Lakers and Celtics, thanks in part to Larry Bird, saved the NBA in the 1980s.
The No. 1 draw in the NBA throughout the regular season was the Lakers, prompting commissioner David Stern to remark that his dream Finals was the Lakers versus the Lakers. Jerry Buss' franchise drew an average of 19,382 fans on the road. Only one other team averaged more than 18,000 -- the Cavaliers, featuring high school phenom LeBron James. The league, as a whole, averaged 17,059.

Guess which franchise sold more team merchandise than any other?

The Lakers were No. 1, followed by the Knicks.

There are those who love the Lakers, and those who hate the Lakers. Either way, we loved to watch the Lakers, just like we loved to watch the Chicago Bulls or the Boston Celtics.

This isn't just about the Lakers. This is about having big, bad teams on the block that everyone wants to beat.

The Lakers won the NBA Title in 2002. The Spurs won it in 2003. The Pistons won it in 2004. If one of these three teams does not win it all in 2005, it will be the first time in 24 years we'll have four different NBA champions in four consecutive years.

The last time this happened was back in the '70s when, between 1970 and 1979, the NBA had eight different champions.

That was parity.

It may have also been the reason the league almost folded until Magic Johnson and Larry Bird came along in 1980. Stern fondly calls it the "Golden Era", when ratings soared and the Lakers and Celtics won eight titles in 10 years. That was followed by Michael Jordan winning six titles in eight seasons and the Lakers winning three in a row. In between, the Pistons won three, the Rockets won two, the Spurs won two and Philadelphia one.

The Pistons winning in 2004 isn't necessarily the end of the world. But it could be the beginning of the end.

After the Lakers won the title in 2002, they lost in the semifinals the very next year. After the Spurs won the title in 2003, they lost in the semifinals the very next year.

Of the five players named to the All-NBA first team, one has already been traded (Shaquille O'Neal), another almost signed with a new team as a free agent (Kobe Bryant) and a third (Jason Kidd) may be traded by the time this story is finished.

The league's two-time leading scorer and second-team All-NBA member (Tracy McGrady) was traded. The Sixth Man of the Year (Antawn Jamison) was traded.

Meanwhile, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Amare Stoudemire, the future of the NBA, was pounded by an Italian team led by Giacomo Galanda and Gianluca Basile, 95-78, in an exhibition game for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

This is parity. And parity has never been good for the NBA.


Wednesday, August 4 Updated 11:12 AM EST

Rumor Central

Hawks, Mavs close to completing trade


Jason Terry
Mavs Aug. 4 - ESPN.com's Marc Stein is reporting the Mavs are expected to complete a trade on Wednesday that will send Antoine Walker and guard Tony Delk to Atlanta for Terry and forward Alan Henderson. Dallas also will receive a future first-round pick from the Hawks via Philadelphia.

Terry was unhappy in Atlanta all last season after the team matched a three-year offer sheet from the Jazz, which may help explain his poor performance. He has two years, $14 million left on his contract. Henderson is a throw in. He played just six games last season. He's in the last year of a contract that pays him just over $8.2 million next season.


Antoine Walker
Hawks Aug. 4 - Walker, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, is heading to the Hawks in exchange for Jason Terry. Walker, who turns 28 in August, is a former all-star who still has plenty of gas left in the tank. He's in a contract year, meaning he's motivated, and the Hawks desperately need to add some more size to the roster.


Jamal Crawford
Knicks Aug. 4 - Reports out of both Chicago and New York have the the Knicks and Bulls finally on the verge of finalizing a trade. The latest deal sends a re-signed Crawford and Jerome Williams to the Knicks for Dikembe Mutombo, Frank Williams and Othella Harrington. The deal had previously included the larger contracts of Eddie Robinson and Shandon Anderson.

The only holdup now is the details of Crawford's contract, which was believed to be for six years and $55 million.

"There's a deal on the table," Crawford's agent, Aaron Goodwin, told the New York Post. "Barring something unusual, we should have something [today]."


Jason Kidd
Mavericks Aug. 4 - The New York Post reports that the Kidd-to-Mavericks trade may be 60 days in the making. The Mavs will acquire Jason Terry from the Atlanta Hawks as early as today, meaning that Terry can't be moved for two months, according to NBA rules. But the Mavs may be using this time to better evaluate the physical condition of Kidd, who is coming off of knee surgery.

"You have to put yourself in position to make something happen," president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson told the Fort Worth Star Telegram. "If you do the right things consistently with smaller moves, it's easier to do the bigger moves."

Kidd has admitted that he also may need the time to cool down after watching several teammates leave the Nets.


Erick Dampier
Suns Aug. 4 - Dampier is expected to meet with the Knicks today in hopes of finalizing a sign-and-trade deal with the Warriors, reports ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher. If a trade can't be reached, Dampier could agree to a one-year contract with the Knicks for the mid-level exception of $4.9 million.

The Hawks are the only other legitmate suitor for Dampier. The Hawks have, according to sources, upped their offer to Dampier now that they've received considerable trade interest from several teams, including the Grizzlies. The Warriors may not be interested in doing a sign-and-trade, but the Hawks wouldn't be averse to signing Dampier and then trading him. If they sign Dampier, they won't be able to trade him until Dec. 15th.

There's always the risk, given his history, that Dampier will get injured and become untradeable before the deadline. But if he goes to Atlanta and plays well for a few months, it may convince a team like the Grizzlies or Pacers to make a trade that could help fill a number of holes that the Hawks have.


Richard Jefferson
Nets Aug. 4 - After a second round of discussions, the Nets and Richard Jefferson are in the process in finalizing a six-year contract extension worth $75 million to $77 million, The Bergen Record reports.


Mike James
Bucks Aug. 4 - Unrestricted free-agent guard Mike James is expected to sign a multiyear contract with the Bucks this week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. James will share duties with second-year player T.J. Ford at point guard. The deal is expected to account for at least $3 million of the team's $4.9 million mid-level exception for next season.

James appeared in 81 games last season for the Celtics and Pistons, averaging 9.3 points and 4.2 assists.


Robert Traylor
Cavaliers Aug. 4 - The Cavs are expected to sign Robert Traylor, a 6-foot-8, 284-pound forward, for the team's million dollar exception ($1.6M), the Akron Beacon Journal reported Aug. 4. Cleveland will have an option on him for the 2005-06 season.

The size-hungry Cavs also are expected to announce a three-year deal with 6-foot-10 forward Anderson Varejao, who completed a buyout this week with his European team, FC Barcelona.

Slick Pinkham
08-04-2004, 05:17 PM
"The Pistons winning in 2004 isn't necessarily the end of the world. But it could be the beginning of the end."


Man is Terry Brown an idiot. I don't care about market size. I don't care about ratings. I care about watching basketball played well.

I don't want basketball games to be like the rookie all-star game, with players taking turns dunking.

I want to see defense.
I want to see intensity.
I want to see MORE series like Detroit-Indiana 2004, not LESS.