ESPN Los Angeles: "The L.A. in my Game," with Brandon Jennings
ESPN LA's Andy Kamenetzky dials back the clock in this Q&A with Brandon Jennings, starting with Jennings' formative years on the playgrounds of Compton while tracing his path from AAU champion to European hoops pioneer. Good read. And as long as you're feeling nostalgic, check out 13-year-old Brandon in some old school footage above.
As for the here and now, you can check out Brandon putting on a show against some of the nation's best high schoolers at the Elite 24 last week, as well as the third episode of Under Armour's ongoing series on Brandon's summer, which focuses on last weekend's Drew League/Goodman League showdown.
SBNation.com: How Small-Market Owners Can Win The NBA Lockout
Tom Ziller has been absolutely crushing it with his lockout coverage all summer, so it should surprise no one that he posted another couple gems this week. Let's start with his piece on the possibility of factions among the have and have not owners, which of course has special relevance for small-market cities like Milwaukee.
But the other 20 or so owners, many content to wait it out? Now they have the leverage. Now they have the hurting players and the high-revenue owners begging for resolution. For once, the little guys -- and I use that term as loosely as metaphorically possible -- have all the power.
There's no moral high ground to be had in the ongoing PR battle between players and owners, but as someone who likes NBA basketball in Milwaukee, I do find myself hoping for significant concessions from the players. Not that the owners have anyone but themselves to blame for the (apparently) money-losing deal they negotiated in 2005, but the bottom line is pretty simple: 1) small market teams need revenue sharing (among other things) to compete in the long term 2) the more money paid to players, the harder it is to make revenue sharing meaningful.
The other post worth checking out is Ziller's well-reasoned counterpoint to Malcolm Gladwell's Grantland piece on the psychic benefits of owning an NBA team. Though I've always enjoyed Gladwell's writing and I'm really glad that he outlines many of the ways in which team ownership is not at all business-like, Gladwell also seems to ignore the general point that this is a negotiation. The players have every right to hold the line and ask the owners to lose money, just as the owners have every right to demand the players accept less. And in this light, Gladwell's comparison of team ownership to artwork falls a bit flat. Buying art is a point-in-time transaction, not an ongoing business that results in positive or negative cash flows each year. Also, your Picasso won't threaten to walk out on you four years from now if you don't give it a max deal. And while its value can go up or down, that's not a cash outlay. A team losing money hand over fist is very different, which is precisely why owners can individually decide to spend less on player salaries (something most have a hard time doing) or collectively try to negotiate a better labor agreement. Owning a team because you love basketball doesn't preclude that, and even the most die-hard owner will want to give himself the best deal possible. It's just a question of how far they're willing to go to get it.
Which isn't to say that the current situation is "fair" to fans and all the regular people who make a living working for the NBA, its teams, and its arenas, but it doesn't seem like the owners or players are particularly worried about the innocent by-standers for now. And if owners are willing to take the frightening step of sacrificing a whole season in order to make more money, then can we seriously argue that NBA owners have so much fun owning teams that they don't need to make any money? Right now the players are hoping to call the owners' bluff, but this isn't the NFL where owners were raking in cash and just wanted more. As soon as the possibility of losing games reared its head, the NFL's dispute was solved quite rapidly. That was the economically rational path to take, but the same does not appear likely to happen in the NBA. If the sum of teams' financial profitability and intangible, psychic benefits isn't enough to satisfy owners, then they won't roll over and accept it. Just as players aren't rolling over and accepting less than the highest salaries in sports just because they "love the game." May the best negotiators win--though for everyone's sake, let's try to make it quick.
Crossover Chronicles: 4 Jerseys You gotta Have For Every Team
Full disclosure: I haven't worn a replica basketball jersey since eighth grade (mesh tank tops + average white dude = not particularly awesome). But having always enjoyed debating the merits of various jerseys, I did enjoy this piece on the most essential Bucks jerseys to own. My take: you can't go wrong with with Sir Sid, though I think the early '70s green "Milwaukee" road jerseys (perhaps with Oscar's name on the back?) are probably my favorites. What about today's squad? I'll be unimaginative and go with Bogut.
Eurobasket: Turkey wins Adidas Istanbul Cup
With Eurobasket group play kicking off on Thursday, Turkey rebounded from its disappointing performance in Germany last week with wins over New Zealand and Montenegro in Istanbul over the weekend. Ersan Ilyasova wasn't listed among the top scorers in any of the recaps I've seen, so not much to report from a Bucks-centric perspective, though we'll have better info when the Eurobasket kicks off for real on Thursday. Until then, is this video of Ersan accidentally kneeing Germany's Robin Benzing in the groin newsworthy?
ESPN3.com: Eurobasket and FIBA Americas starting this week
Carlos Delfino also begins tournament play this week, with Delfino's host Argentina squad widely favored to claim one of the two automatic berths to the 2012 Olympics at the FIBA Americas qualifying tournament. Both tournaments will be broadcast on ESPN3, with Argentina taking on Paraguay at 4 pm CT Tuesday.
Bucks.com: Energee finalists
Something to pass the time.