Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Grizzlies Are Still Afloat

by Chip Crain

The guy is a billionaire and still profits from his other businesses. Spending $100 million and only recouping $70 million of it back, resulting in a $30 million loss, shouldn't be THAT big of a deal.

These guys own sports teams like someone else might own a boat or something. It's not a necessity that they have to have. It's a status thing.
a post on the Grizzlies Message Board

That has to be one of the least informed opinions I have ever seen. Do people seriously believe that the owners in the NBA can swallow $30 million losses every year because they see the team like a boat?

No one is going to lose tens of millions of dollars every year and not want to do something to stop that trend. Michael Heisley is no different and he took moves this year to stop it from continuing along that path. Sure it will magnify pain in the short run but these moves had to be made to put the team in position to move forward in the future.

Owners in the NBA are extremely competitive personalities for the most part and they want to win. Michael Heisley wants to win too. The team he had at the end of Jerry West's tenure was not the team he wanted and so he decided to remake the team from the ground up. A lot of people, including some who write on this blog, were screaming for him to do this for years. The attitude was that Pau Gasol, Mike Miller and the others were never going to compete in the playoffs. Not because they couldn't be role players on championship teams but they could never lead a team there by themselves and having them in that role of leader was preventing the Grizzlies from getting the type of player who could.

Well Heisley saw the same thing. He decided, along with Chris Wallace and Marc Iavaroni, that the team needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. They decided to go with a youth movement which has its risks not the least of which is some years of struggling at the front end. Do people prefer he try to rebuild by spending up to the salary cap with players who will only make the team average at best?

Heisley understands that the fans have to be won back and that will take wins on the court. He said as much at the press conference welcoming Mayo and Arthur to the team. He wants to win in the worst way and when the time is right he will spend the money needed to get the right player to help put the team in a position to win it all. He's not interested in acquiring a player who will make us marginally better this season but not be in position to spend money on the right player at the right time.

No one knows how well the team will perform this season. Most likely they will struggle with so much youth on the team. However, if Antoine Walker takes hold of the PF position and plays like he wants to be in the NBA in 2010 then who knows?


Anonymous said...

That is an unrealistic expectation on ownership. They should be able to run their club at a profit.

I also think it's - not saying this is happening, not sure it isn't either - unreasonable for ownership to walk into a new city with a new team and expect it to be as financially viable as teams who've built up a large community of fans (say Golden State, San An) over the years. That takes time and performances on the court. Without both the necessary time or performances you have no right to that level of support (see Charlotte's decline in support from their initial years).

Errol said...

I'm not sure I could ever conceive, as an individual, being able to sneeze at $30 million (and I'm like, what a thousandaire or something like that?). Since Heisley is a self-made billionaire, I would conclude that this type of attitude is foreign to him as well, even though he is worth thousands of millions. It is true that $30 million is to $1 billion as $900 is to $30,000 or $3000 to $100,000, but geeze, it's still $30 million, and that adds up quickly over a short period of time. I can't really come up with any reason to justify demanding a $30 million giveaway on the regular from somebody else.

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