Archive for the ‘dealing with adversity’ Category

Parents Say the Darndest Things

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

It’s that time of year again. For me (and hundreds of others), the first ten days of August can only mean one thing: Michael Jordan Flight School, i.e. MJ’s basketball camp (back-to-back sessions held on the campus of UCSB). This blog will return on August 13 (after some out of town business a couple days following camp). No doubt, there will be some humorous stories about the kids and their parents - like the following anecdote which I posted after returning from camp in 2007.

Another true story from the Michael Jordan Flight School, a basketball camp held each year at the University of California, Santa Barbara from August 1-10.

As a commissioner of one of the eight leagues, one of my duties is to make myself available to parents of campers (or simply fans who want to observe) to answer questions they might have, e.g. where is my child playing, what time is Michael speaking today, what time is dinner being served, etc.

I’ve been a commissioner for the past five years and I can say I’ve yet to be asked a question I couldn’t answer, or at least put the questioner in touch with the right people. Until a couple weeks ago. Or so I thought.

A parent told me his son was playing on Magic Johnson court #3 and wondered if I could direct him to it. There are 16 courts used at once when games are being played. Six of them are in the Events Center, otherwise known as the Thunderdome. Two are in the Recreation Center, another two are in Robertson Gymnasium, another two are in a building known as the MAC while the remaining four are outdoor courts designated as the Michael Jordan courts 1,2,3 and 4.

When I mentioned this to the camper’s father, he told me his son had called and was certain the youngster said he’d be playing on Magic Johnson Court 3. I asked if he knew the name of his son’s team or that of his coach (two items the coaches explain to the members of their team on the first day as being vitally important to know). He knew neither but was certain of the game’s location. I emphasized there was no such court. Could he try and remember the exact conversation with his son as he’d never have been given that information.

The father had a look of deep concentration, then said to me he specifically recalled his son saying he’d be playing on the MJ #3 outdoor court. I didn’t say a word, just let this information sink in and when it inevitably did, he looked at me sheepishly and said, “You probably can tell I’m a big Lakers fan.”

There’s no better quote for this occasion than Elbert Hubbard’s:

“Everyone is a damn fool for five minutes a day. Wisdom consists of not exceeding that.”

Coaching Salaries Should Never Be Market Driven

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

The following is the first entry on my new computer. A combination of my age and my lack of interest in anything technological severely hinder what I can do on a computer. I’m from a generation which values verbal and written communication more than something from a computer. Since my skills are speaking and writing, I have a tough time doing anything but. Until technology floats my boat like speaking and writing do, blogging will have to be what bridges the generation gap for me. 

What I find odd, especially in this economy, are the salaries paid to employees that are based on “market value.” As an example, let’s look at college basketball coaches. John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo, Rick Pitino and other highly successful coaches are paid quite handsomely (that’s one way to put it). All have something in common - success at the highest levels. In addition, it’s been proven that each of those coaches accounts for more than what he’s paid. Because these guys are raking in big money for their respective universities, directors of athletics, presidents and their boards feel compelled to “put together as attractive a package” as they can to bring to their university a coach who will achieve the kind of success the highest paid coaches do. To me, it seems as though these “leaders” are putting the cart before the horse.

An AD I once knew who had a head basketball coaching position open confided in me that he intended to pay the new coach around $400,000. That was double what the previous coach (who had retired) had made. “What?!?” was my incredulous reply. “Why?” He told me coaching salaries were “market driven.”

“Look, the guys you’re talking to are assistants who, at the most, are making $125,000″ (the list had already been pared to four). “Offer them $175,000.” I tried to reason, “That’s a $50,000 raise, the opportunity to be a head coach, what nearly every assistant wants, and your job is one of the best in the conference. Ask people on the street what they’d do for a $50,000 raise.”

“Oh, if we offered that, we’d never get any of these guys,” was his retort.

So what? Not one of them has ever called a time out yet!” It was around that time I realized why athletics administration had never appealed to me. It was time to drop a bombshell on him. “If you did your homework, really got out there and thoroughly investigated - by leaning on friends and associates you trust, not taking the easy way out by paying some head hunting firm $50-60,000 - and told them you were offering $175,000, I’d be willing to guarantee you that you’d wind up with just as good a coach as you would for $400,000.

“As far as spending the money you want, you load his contract with incentives - winning, naturally, but also for paid attendance, graduation rates, conference championships and whatever else is important to the university. That is what’s fair. Pay for performance, not market value. He won’t work any less hard; in fact, he’ll probably work harder because he needs to prove himself. If you think a bigger school is going to come along and snatch him up when he wins, chances are that if the school is big enough, you won’t be able to come close to their price anyway.”

Never did I think my advice would be taken seriously (it wasn’t) but, for the life of me - maybe because of my math background - I can’t understand why college leaders are blind to an obvious statistic. At the end of the season, when conference records are posted, there will be exactly as many wins as losses. In other words, some coach’s team will finish last, another next-to-last, etc. Yet, all of them are being paid at market rate. Why? Who the hell set up such an absurd salary structure?

Pay for performance. That’s how the country began. If you were good, you made it; if you weren’t, you didn’t. Now, once your coach produces, then pay him. Of course, at the time of your search, if there’s someone out there you really want, e.g. like Louisville did with Pitino, hey, do what needs to be done. By the way, Rick had previously called times out and he had done well with that aspect of the game, as well as all others. But, for the school that posts a job and waits for applications, more legwork should be done, less salary and more incentives offered.

I recall a marketing director at one of my stops, whenever a marketing idea was proposed, the staff would hear the identical response. “That’s a good idea but it is labor intensive.” If you should ever be on the receiving end of such a reply, remember this:

“Labor intensive is just another term for . . . WORK.”

Everyone Wants to Know If Rory Is the New Tiger

Monday, July 21st, 2014

A multitude of issues will cause this blog to be temporarily halted. At first, there were only two: 1) today is a trip to Stanford Pain Management for both a refill for my morphine pump and a consultation with my doctor to see if a change in strategy would make my life more “comfortable” and 2) tonight, after the three hour (one way) trip to Redwood City, a trip to Los Angeles for another couple sessions (for Alex) with shooting expert Mike Penberthy. A third roadblock has appeared. My computer served me fairly well for the better part of two years but is ready for extinction. The past few days, it shuts off while I’m working, causing me to save what I’m writing every few minutes or else lose the text. Not only is this frustrating, it’s time consuming. Today I figured out to make a word document and then, cut and paste it to word press (please excuse me if I butchered that explanation as far as proper computer dialogue goes but I’m not from the tech world). All I do is put together words and thoughts people (seem to) like to read.  

If you have a child with a mind of his or her own or one who does as he or she pleases, you’re stuck with the problem - and do everything in your power to understand and help it - but when a computer starts getting impudent, if it negatively impacts your life and it’s more problem than solution, you replace it. While it might be a tad expensive, it’s well worth it. My problem is the one I want has to be shipped in and it might take a week or so.

This blog will return as soon as I receive it. Please check daily beginning Friday.    

Rory McElroy went wire to wire to win the British Open, giving him three of the four Grand Slam championships - at 25 years of age. Now, only the Masters eludes him. Now, the whispers by writers (and the louder chatter of fans) of “the next Tiger” are beginning to be heard. McIlroy is doing nothing to suppress the babble. “Golf is looking to someone to put their hand up and try,” he said. “I want to be the guy that goes on and wins majors and wins majors regularly.”

How long will it take for the comparisons to Woods begin? Ironically, Woods career collapsed after his marital indiscretions became national news while McIlroy’s career has skyrocketed since he got cold feet and put an end to his engagement to Caroline Wozniacki (it couldn’t exactly have been devastating to her, either, at least as far as her career is concerned as she won the Istanbul Cup yesterday). Even if the McIlroy continues his success on the links, and people get weary of Tiger comparisons, there’s always Nicklaus.

Our country wants superstars – even, for some people - just so they can shoot holes in their reputations. McIlroy’s transparent honesty is refreshing but it might be just a matter of time until the media, using the term loosely for those who cross the line between truth and fiction - and enjoy doing so – bombard him with whatever will make for good reading. The fact that many of the stories rely on anonymous sources and twisted words doesn’t ever stand in the way someone trying to get ahead. Or, maybe, get even.

Golf is a sport unlike all others. In order to win, you have to beat the whole field - all at once. In team sports you expect help from your teammates. In other individual sports, e.g. tennis, bowling, boxing and wrestling, you have to win against another competitor, then win against another winner, and on and on, until you’ve beaten all of your foes. The comparison between golf and track & field or swimming is closer, but in those sports, while you have to win every race or heat, you’re only pitted against about seven or eight at a time. Golf and cross country are probably the most similar in that there are a multitude of people trying to beat you but, skill-wise, aerobics is the main ingredient in cc, while golf requires much less oxygen intake but a whole lot more dexterity and finesse.

How will all the scrutiny affect Rory McIlroy? He’s demonstrated remarkable poise thus far but, after more tourneys and more pressers and more demands on his time, will he be able to withstand it or will it make him crack?

We all will see because as Thomas Carlyle once said:

“No pressure, no diamonds.”

 

 

An Unrealistic Plan to Right the Country

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

If you haven’t noticed the United States doesn’t seem to be so “united” these days, you must either be completely oblivious to your surroundings or belong to the hermit association, a group that meets every February 30th. Today, as soon as a proposal by anyone is made, we can be assured that somebody or some group, somewhere will mock it as impractical, illogical, insane and/or irrational. Even before the proposal is completed.

My wish, as I’ve stated previously (to anyone who will listen, and even some who wouldn’t), is that the Republicans win the next presidential election. I can almost hear the groans now (which further proves my above observation). So, please, let me finish. Then, my hope that the Democrats do to the Republicans exactly what the GOP has done to them while they held the office of the presidency. What would occur is that the roles would be reversed. The party that’s not in power would criticize every move their “opponents” would make. It’s become you don’t want your party to be in power because it’s easier (and more fun) to criticize than be accountable.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Somebody, even better, a lotta somebodies will come to the realization that this attitude doesn’t work. And it never will! Once elections are over - and I know this next statement defies the essence of politics - you’re no longer opponents. You’re actually active participants of the same team. Our team. The United States of America. Kinda like the World Cup. There were basically two types of Americans - those who wanted the U.S. to win and those who didn’t care. I can’t think of anyone I know - or even heard of - who wanted our guys to lose.

Make no mistake about it, it will take a person, or group of people, who will have the courage to tell politicians (especially if the bearer of this news flash happens to be a pol him or her or themselves) that their current actions are ruining the country. Independent of how much money there is to be made in the political game - and, unfortunately, it is a game - our elected officials (and their strategists) must start treating this country like a team. This means everybody working together. In order for all of us to prosper, sacrifices are going to need to be made. Not only sacrifices by others (the kinds everyone favors), but changes that will make our own lives hurt some. Maybe even more than “some.”

People with large dollars will object because the majority of them solve problems by throwing money at them. OK, charge them for that way of thinking. We sure as hell could use the extra revenue. For the rest of us, we have to change our way of thinking - and living. For my people (Baby Boomers), we’re going to have to suffer somewhat for our kids’ well-being. Truth be told, we (and our lifestyle of excess) have screwed the next generations quite a bit. Some of us more than others. Much of it not really our fault, i.e. we weren’t emphatically told much of what we were doing was bad for the nation (or earth). If we were, I wasn’t paying attention.

I once asked a teacher friend of mine if he thought the district administrators pay should be reduced. “Definitely,” he exclained.

“How about the administrators on campus?” I asked.

“Yup,” was his immediate reply.

“How about the teachers?”

“Absolutely not!!!” he screamed.

If we don’t want to tighten our collective belts, than the answer is raise more money. There are brilliant people in this country who might just come up with an idea or two which can lighten the load a little. Or a lot. A giant bake sale probably isn’t the answer, yet, a long, long time ago someone whose group was in need of money came up with the concept of the bake sale. Voila, money was raised, people enjoyed a treat or two and everyone was thrilled. So now the question becomes, “Who will come up with the 21st century version of the bake sale?”

While we wait for that revelation, a Congress that acts together, with the nation’s best interests at heart - meaning no hidden agendas (once again flying the face of what politics has become) - would work wonders for all of us. I admit I’m skeptical, mainly because the greatest indicator of future behavior is past performance but that kind of cooperation, plus sacrifice by all of us, plus some creative thinking will improve the health of our once strong nation.

Our stance must be as simple as the old saying:

“You don’t drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there.”




There’s Never Been Anyone Quite Like Jimmy V

Friday, July 18th, 2014

The following is a blog I posted four or five years ago on Jim Valvano. The V Foundation is in full swing, raising millions on top of millions. This has, as Robin Roberts noted in her autobiography, equated to saving more and more lives (hers being one). I thought now would be an appropriate time to reprint it (since, according to how my hits have spiked throughout the years, there’s a good chance most of you haven’t seen it).

With the ESPYs on TV and the constant mention of the V Foundation, I thought I’d relate an encounter I had with the late Jim Valvano.

The story is taken from my book, Life’s A Joke. It took place in the mid-80s when I was an assistant at the University of Tennessee and Jim and his NC State Wolfpack had won one of the most improbable NCAA Championships, a last second victory over the Phi Slamma Jamma Houston Cougars.

USA Today had done a story on, among other things, how much  (so I’ve heard), you’re getting solicitations (including guilt trips) from people you know, people you don’t know and people you don’t know who swear they know you. “V” was quoted as saying the numbers were greatly inflated and he wasn’t making nearly the amount of money that was being reported.

V played at Rutgers when I was at Highland Park High School, which is located just a mile from the RU campus. We first met at Five Star Camp in the Poconos when he was the head coach at Bucknell and I was a grad assistant at Washington State. Since we were both East Coast guys, I knew he’d appreciate the note I mailed him after the article came out. In the envelope I placed a $1 bill, along with the following message:

V,

Just read the USA Today article. Had no idea things were so bad. Hope this helps.

Jack

About a week or two later, I received a letter with a North Carolina State return address. I was prepared for anything because I knew V wouldn’t ever let anyone one up him.

Jim had incorporated himself and his corporation was called JTV Enterprises for “James Thomas Valvano” (not sure what he did with the “Anthony” - maybe he felt a four letter corporation didn’t sound as powerful). His return letter read:

Jack,

Got your money and invested it in JTV Enterprises. Enclosed is your return. Too bad you didn’t invest more.

Inside the letter were two $1 bills.

Nobody ever got the better of Jimmy Valvano.

When V was stricken with cancer, he told his closest associates (one of whom told me) that he wanted to make a difference. As he said in his now legendary speech, he felt a cure for cancer might not be discovered in time to help him but that, in time, with enough money and research poured into the cause, cancer could be conquered.

I’ve read several books by the learned rabbi, Harold Kushner. In one of them he wrote that he’d been at the bedside with people in the last moments of their lives. What he discovered is:                               

“People don’t fear death. They fear insignificance.”

V, you can rest in peace having absolutely no fear of that.

Free Agent Market Dealings

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Unlike other years, this off season’s free agent market has dominated the news. The main reason is that the game’s best (current) player happened to be one of them. The only free agent other than LeBron whose signing caused this much stir within the league was Shaq when he left Orlando to join the Lakers.

The NBA has had no shortage of big name, big impact (they hope) free agents who changed unis. Other than James, the list includes P. Gasol, Parsons, Pierce, Stephenson, Deng, I. Thomas, D. Collison, Farmar, Hawes, Ariza and others. While some high quality players moved on, it appears equally as many of the marquis names stayed loyal to their team (or new deal for more money). That list sports, among others, Anthony, Bosh, Nowitzki, Duncan, Wade, Gortat, Lowry, Diaw, Hayward, Swaggy P and Birdman. In addition, Bledsoe, Monroe and others are still on the market.

The players biggest enemy to their earning power, often, is themselves. The last collective bargaining agreement (CBA) heavily favored the owners, as one would expect. While it would be no contest if the contents of the CBA was based on the playing floor, i.e. players vs. owners, the negotiations are held in conference rooms, a definite overwhelming home court advantage for the rich(er) guys. As long as there is a salary cap - and don’t think for a minute that will be repealed - there will be a majority of players who will feel they’re underpaid. The general public has absolutely zero sympathy for those guys and that won’t change unless negative numbers are allowable on the sympathy scale.

Much of the players’ problem is an overwhelming majority of them (my opinion only, based strictly on observation, devoid of any scientific or other kind of fact) think they’re worth considerably more than their skills actually command. This is, in part, due to the fact that basketball has become, on the grass roots level, an ego game, e.g. “I’m gonna light you up” and “You can’t guard me.” Early on, players got this belief from guys like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. The difference between then and now is that MJ and Larry backed it up - and on the rare occasion they didn’t, they retreated to the gym because they were determined that it wasn’t going to happen again. Nowadays, players get the idea due to being coddled at a very early age. If their braggadocio isn’t backed up, they retreat to their respective corner to find the sympathetic (or should it just be pathetic) ears and mouths of their “people” telling them such nonsense as “The refs screwed you” or “The coach screwed you” or “Your teammates screwed you.” Basically, anything but, “Damn, you better get your ass in the gym and do some work!”

Another issue against the players is one that has hit other segments of the work force, i.e. older, more highly paid workers being replaced by younger, less expensive ones. Free agency is about the last refuge players have. And why is it that players hold the upper hand in free agency (assuming there’s a team or teams who find they have value)? It could be because of the old adage (apparently not necessarily etched in stone in San Antonio):

“No matter how many mistakes you make or how slowly you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.”


Wrap Up Quotes from Coaching U

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Rather than blogging about a person, observation or story, this post will sum up the powerful quotes I heard at the Coaching U event I attended last week. In case you missed yesterday’s blog, the final quote was the belief of the Navy Seals:

“Under pressure, you don’t rise to the level of the occasion. You sink to the level of your training. That’s why we train so hard.”

The following are some others you might want to use or, at least, think about:

From George Raveling, whose topic was building a better bench, a quote from Scottie Pippen:

“Sometimes a player’s greatest challenge is coming to grips with his role on the team.”

One from Phil Jackson:

“85% of all NBA players are ‘role’ players.”

And, of course, one of George’s own:

“Don’t expect the gorilla to cooperate if you’re spanking him . . . insults don’t enhance influence!”

From Billy Donovan:

“You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with.”

Lawrence Frank offered a Bob Knight quote (what’s a coaching clinic without a mention of Bob Knight)?

“Coaching is getting players to do what they don’t want to do so that they can become the players they want to become.”

Shaka Smart gave the crowd a favorite of his, from the New England Patriots’ locker room wall (Belichick is also a clinic favorite):

“We don’t become you. You become us.”

Shaka also had a couple of his (VCU’s) program:

“We aggressively pursue greatness” and “We fully commit to aligning ourselves with the team.”

And from the master of deep thought, Kevin Eastman (event co-host and Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Clippers):

“He who angers you, owns you.”

“Fill up their tanks” and “Focus their lenses.”

“There’s a difference between ‘buy in’ and ‘give in.’ “

“Players need to understand the concept of ‘every’ - every game, every quarter, every possession.”

And his favorite:

“Go through life with big ears, big eyes and a small mouth.”

Why Some People Succeed While Others Don’t

Monday, July 14th, 2014

For 42 years I went to work as a teacher. My students were kids who were studying algebra, playing basketball or both. Early in my career I realized my instruction wasn’t math or hoops as much as it was life. One of my first bosses was George Raveling at Washington State who took his job as an educator as seriously as anyone I’ve ever met.

It was George who introduced me to reading inspirational and self-help books, and listening to motivational speakers and audio books. So much can be learned from others - if you just keep an open mind. In fact knowledge can be acquired at an exponential rate. Throughout my professional moves (high school, nine colleges, followed by another high school) I would use power quotes and stories I’d heard (and experienced - one of my best skills is the ability to entertainingly tell stories).

The best way to do this is to not only read and listen but to constantly observe. I’ve been retired for two years but I still keep my eyes open (although they open a little later in the day than they used to). At the Coaching U event in Indianapolis last week, I heard longtime NBA coach, Lawrence Frank, make a statement during his presentation that struck a chord with me because it debunked a belief many people think is true. Lawrence gave everyone in attendance the paradigm of the Navy Seals which could benefit all of us. It explains why some people succeed at crunch time while others talk about it:

“Under pressure, you don’t rise to the level of the occasion. You sink to the level of your training. That’s why we train so hard.”

When What You Do Best and What You Love Happen to Coincide

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

This past Tuesday and Wednesday I attended a basketball coaching clinic event co-hosted by a couple of basketball dinosaurs, Kevin Eastman and Brendan Suhr. The description is meant as a comment. They have coached for a combined 80 or so years on the high school, college and professional levels. While that stat is what impresses the heck out of me (I did it for 35 years and when I look back on it, I have no idea how I managed to do it), what blows others away is that, between them, they have three NBA championship rings (Kevin as an assistant with the 2007-08 Celtics, Brendan in the same role with the Bad Boy Pistons of 1988-89 & 1989-90). They call it Coaching U and have been staging such events for six years. Suffice to say they understand what it takes to put on a first class show.

Somehow these guys manage to get not only the quality speakers other promoters only wish for, they get them in bunches. The cast for Tue-Wed was, in addition to the co-hosts, George Raveling (who invited me to be his guest), Shaka Smart, Lawrence Frank, Billy Donovan and Gregg Marshall. (The speakers for the July 15-16 session are just as formidable). Stop and think: Hall of Fame, Final Fours, NCAA National Champions, NBA Champions were all represented on this program and while all were sensational, this blog will discuss one coach in particular.

During the early to mid-1980s I worked at the University of Tennessee for a coach named Don DeVoe. For that particular era, Don was always mentioned as a guy who, if he was given a group of players he’d never seen before, and seven other coaches were given other groups of equal talent, and a tournament was held, Don’s guys would have as good or better a chance of winning a tournament. In today’s game, one such coach is Florida’s Billy Donovan.

This past Wednesday, Billy took five players from Indiana Wesleyan, the 2014 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Champions and, in 20 minutes taught them the Gators’ pick and roll offense. His comments were for the coaches in attendance but were directed to the players in such a manner that, incredible as it sounds, the five guys ran through the offense flawlessly. Every option, every set, every time. Some of the other speakers also worked with the players and did marvelous jobs, but none as seamlessly as Billy D.

As we watched, I made mention of this phenomena to George, who currently serves as the Director of International Basketball for Nike, and he just shook his head. “Jack, I saw him do the same thing at the U19 championships in Prague,” Rav said. “He hadn’t seen the team until they practiced (for two weeks) and won the tournament even though all the other teams were their country’s national team, composed of the best players in that age group. He’s amazing.”

Many people, including this writer, discuss how coaching salaries have reached unfathomable heights. Billy Donovan is making over $22 million for six years but, as incredible as it may seem, watching him work with those young college kids and see them respond to him so quickly and so impeccably, was infinitely more startling to me than his salary numbers.

To many, money is the ultimate reward. Make no mistake about it, I’m sure Billy (and his family) are thrilled he brings home a paycheck with all those zeroes but the fact that he is enjoying his work has to be fulfilling to him. Paraphrasing Bob Dylan:

“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”


Free Agents, Glamor Locations and Winning Teams

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Unexpected out of town trip came up when former boss and lifetime (at least since 1973) friend, George Raveling, told me he was speaking at the Coaching U basketball clinic in Indianapolis, run by the LA Clippers VP Kevin Eastman and longtime NBA coach, Brendan Suhr. Rav told me he thought it would be a great opportunity for us to hang out - like the old times at Washington State and USC.

One thing about being retired, I’m now (pretty much) my own boss. My use of the qualifier is because any such sojourn still has to be OK’d by my wife (some things don’t change with retirement). Jane, still jet-lagged from our recent trips to Hawaii (in May) and France (last month), gave her blessing, so I’m off for a week in Indy and looking forward to spending quality time with George - and, more than likely, some old coaching friends.

This blog will return next Saturday, July 12.

Brian Windhorst, who’s got to be the most unlikely looking basketball insider ever, was sharing his information (which is as right on as any other of his kind in TV, radio or print media). His topic was the current NBA free agent market. Windhorst made the statement, “You’re not going to get free agents in Milwaukee.” Certainly, he wasn’t speaking about only Milwaukee. In its current condition, Detroit wouldn’t seem to be a magical destination for any free agents, either. And those two franchises have plenty of company in terms of locations that would be considered “undesirable” by today’s free agents. It’s almost like the big city franchises bully their smaller brethren.What the little guys have going for them is 4% of more is better than 4% of less so agents can talk their clients into filling out rosters everywhere. Just not the highly sought after ones.

If Windhorst’s statement is truly the case – and one would be hard pressed to argue in favor of the opposing view – how, then, can such cities ever expect to win? Not win a championship, but just post a winning record? Wouldn’t players look at those places as depressing work sites? Even if their “work” is “play?” Especially when there are a number of other franchises that are located in cities that these millionaires would feel much more comfortable spending a good portion of their disposable income. Cities like New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami and Chicago. Note that many of the NBA’s most successful franchises call those places home.

The redeeming fact for all of the small market clubs, free agency be damned, is that this past season, three of this year’s final four teams competing for the Larry O’Brien Trophy were from small market cities. The Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder and World Champion San Antonio Spurs wound up the only teams standing – along with not-so-giant-a-market (but wonderful place to live) Miami. Each of the first three used different strategies to make them successful and no one would be surprised if the trio were battling in June 2015 (depending on how this year’s free agent market shakes out, of course).

While the Pacers, Thunder and Spurs have employed different strategies to be – and remain – successful, if only one word was allowed to describe their methods, that word would probably be relationships. That’s certainly an oversimplification but it’s the one common thread that seems to bind these franchises. 

However, the NBA cynic (of whom we have an overflowing abundance) would feel the antithesis about relationships that Anthony D’Angelo expresses about them:

“Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.”