The Terrelle Pryor in the NFL Debate… Size Isn’t Everything

June 14, 2011

Read the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless.

On February 6th, 2008, every high school football senior in the country with hopes of playing at the next level had to make a decision. It was National Signing Day, where those recruits commit to the college program they wish to be a part of.

Every recruit, that is, except one.

A quarterback out of Jeannette, PA, by the name of Terrelle Pryor thought he was special, and that the rules of everyone else didn’t apply to him. And so, while everyone else was announcing their intentions for the fall, Pryor decided that he would not make his announcement until more than a month later, on March 19th.

We should have seen it coming then.

Terrelle Pryor has fallen right in line with many other phenom talents who are targeted at a too-early age as the next great athletic superstar. Throughout their formative years, when most kids are learning very important life lessons about maturity, responsibility, and accountability, these teenage “superstars” are instead being told they are ‘special’. Exceptions and excuses are made on their behalf for their mistakes, and before you know it, they are shut off from the rest of the world, living within the bubble of “I am better than everyone else.”

Think about the recent antics of other children (which is exactly what they are) who were thrust far too soon into the limelight that is sports stardom – LeBron James and Bryce Harper quickly come to mind. All of these amazingly talented athletes may be physically prepared for the rigors of top-tier athletic competition, but none have shown the maturity necessary to cope with those rigors, and none have demonstrated an ounce of consideration for anyone around them, DESPITE the fact that they all play TEAM SPORTS.

Still, we hope with each new kid brought to us by ESPNU or as the ‘next great thing’ that THEY will be different. We continue to blindly believe the myth that age naturally brings wisdom and maturity, when so many before them prove time and again that is just not the case in sports. We believe that a kid who hasn’t even gone to prom yet can manage a multi-million dollar lifestyle, when most adults aren’t capable of it.

And with every new revelation made about the misdeeds of Pryor and his cohorts while at The Ohio State University, it becomes more evident that he has continued to behave as though the rules just did not apply to him. HE was the superstar, and everyone else should be grateful that HE is a part of their system.

So it came as a surprise to no one when he once more ducked out on accountability and consequence by running away from the NCAA.

Once again, while his so-called ‘team’ will be suffering the wrath of the NCAA, Pryor gets to just walk away, untouched by sanctions that will largely (if not entirely) be levied specifically because of his actions.

Terrelle Pryor is special, and the rules don’t apply to him.

Does that sound like someone an NFL General Manager, Head Coach, or FAN would want on their organization?

Character issues to the side now (which are more than enough to turn any NFL GM off to the prospect of Pryor as a member of their organization), there are plenty of reasons from a performance standpoint that would ALSO be reason to look the other way when Pryor and new agent Drew Rosenhaus come knocking at your team’s door.

Yes, Terrelle Pryor is a physically gifted athlete. He undeniably has the build required to play in the NFL, and is an all-around athlete. His combination of size and speed are what got him noticed in high school, and what led the Buckeyes to an amazing 33-6 record during his three-year tenure with the program.

But for Pryor, the REAL story is not in the wins, but in the losses. His poor decision making ability in many of those games led to very costly turnovers, some of which decided the outcome of games.

When Pryor is leading a juggernaut team against the bottom-feeders of the NCAA, it is easy for him to look good. The talent of the team around him, and the support of a stifling defense that was the hallmark of Ohio State football under Jim Tressel, all compensated for Pryor’s inability to make good decisions.

He extends plays far too long, creating opportunities for the defense to force turnovers, and he forces passes into areas that should not be tested. That is why his ratio of barely more than two TD passes for every interception pales in comparison to TRULY successful quarterbacks of recent years such as Cam Newton (4.3 TDs to every INT), Sam Bradford (5.5 TDs per INT), or even fellow Buckeye Troy Smith (4.2 TDs per INT).

With very few exceptions, any time that Terrelle Pryor found himself in a pressure situation with the game resting on his shoulders, he failed to deliver. Instead, he USUALLY committed a costly mistake which actually hurt his team more than if he had done nothing at all.

And to top it all off, the projection for his pro potential is not even at the position he played in college. You see, everyone knows that he can’t hack it as an NFL QB, so they are instead HOPING that his size, speed, and strength will make him a successful weapon somewhere (anywhere) on the field.

So if I were General Manager of an NFL franchise, and was presented at the supplemental draft with the opportunity to draft a low-character, poor decision making, selfish, prima donna attention-seeker who will have to learn an entirely new position because everyone already knows he cannot be successfull at the only position he has experience in, my answer is a resounding ‘NO THANK YOU!’

The best thing for Pryor AND for the NFL would be for him to spend a few years in either the CFL or the UFL, developing some strong character traits, and proving to the world that he is more than just hype and bad publicity.

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The High School to College Jump Debate… Getting Schooled, NBA Style

March 1, 2011

Read the opposing argument from Bleacher Fan.

Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Kevin Garnett.

Each one of those names represents a supremely talented player that comprises the modern face of the NBA. These men define the very best in terms of talent the NBA has to offer. Each one of them has been named to the All-NBA team. Each one of them is a former NBA All-Star. Each one of them is a former first round draft pick. These are all extraordinary accomplishments from extraordinarily talented players, but the most striking of the commonalities shared by these players is the fact that each one of them was drafted right out of high school.

That’s right, folks. These players learned to dominate the league without having to go to college. While it may not be politically correct to romanticize the fact these guys went on to experience great success without the benefit of a college education or the experience of NCAA basketball, that is exactly what happened. Though it may be true that not every player who declares for the draft right out of high school experiences this type of success, these men prove it is indeed possible. When the ludicrous talk of making incoming players wait three years after their high school graduation before they can become eligible for the NBA comes up, I dismiss it as a flawed and outdated notion.

This proposal is as ill fit for the NBA as James Franco was for Oscar hosting. (Editor’s Note: Nice.)

This rule may work for other leagues, but it would be ill fit for the NBA. No one in his or her right mind would expect an 18-year old to be ready for the NFL. The game just moves at too fast a pace, and the body of an 18-year old simply isn’t developed enough to take the grueling punishment of an NFL season. Comparisons may be made to MLB, seeing as how prospects are signed right out of high school, but that is a tad misleading. While clubs frequently sign young players fresh out of high school, they are given ample opportunity to develop the required skills for the majors in the league’s vast farm system. It may take a player years, or even a decade, to mature into a true big leaguer.

In either scenario, the maturation of the player is key to their success, and the NBA is no different. HOWEVER… I argue that placing an arbitrary timetable on that development process does nothing to improve the game. No two players develop the same and therefore they do not uniformly fit a one-size fits all approach to development. Some players are simply ready right out of high school and others aren’t. I don’t suggest that every player be drafted right out of high school, JUST the ones that are ready for it.

Forcing a pro-ready talent like Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett to waste three years playing college ball is completely unnecessary. Those are 3 years that a pro-ready player is risking their health and in turn their livelihood playing out an NCAA sentence to appease a misgiven notion that rushing a player into the pros hurts both the player and the league. The truth is, it doesn’t. Much like the popular phrase “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.” Players out of high school shouldn’t be drafted to the NBA, pro-ready players should be drafted out of high school to the NBA.

You might be asking yourself, “How does one determine the difference between a pro-ready high school grad and a kid making a rash decision?” That’s an issue between the player and the teams willing to draft them. If a player thinks they are ready, and a professional team wants to take a chance on them, more power to both. The NBA doesn’t owe NCAA basketball anything. It is a ludicrous infringement of the free market that the desires of the colleges to hang on to the best players (for the sake of their school’s economic success) should supersede the right of the player to sign with a professional team and actually get compensated for playing. College programs would literally be steamrolling over the rights of both the players and the NBA franchise that wishes to sign them.

There are lots of great college stars who are huge NBA busts. There time playing NCAA basketball didn’t help them better establish their pro-level game, so why reinforce the myth that it does?

Professional athletes have a very limited and uncertain window to make money. They are always just one injury from being out of the league for good. Forcing a player to forgo three years of the prime money making years is simply idiotic. We can pretend the lessons of playing college ball and attending class are priceless, but are they really?

Put yourself in these players’ shoes, or rather the shoes of their family. If you had a son who was a senior in high school who was offered the 4.2M that comes with being drafted with the number one overall pick, or taking a three year scholarship to Duke, which would you encourage them to take? Invariably I would tell him to take the NBA deal.

With that NBA deal comes the type of cash that could pay for his tuition, his children’s tuition, and his grandchildren’s tuition many times over. With the college deal comes three years laden with risk to the players health and draft status. Those are risks not worth taking.

Normally I’m an ardent proponent of education, but here it just doesn’t make sense. Sure, you can say without college the player won’t know how to manage that money, and if they get hurt in the pros they have nothing to fall back on, but that is just a cop out. The managing of an individual’s personal finances is not a matter of public concern. If an NBA player loses all their money Nicolas Cage style, Boo-freakin-Hoo! The lack of a college education is not to blame. I’ve had eight years of graduate and undergraduate collegiate studies and not once did I have a class on how to make a personal budget, balance my checkbook, or make wise personal finance decisions, so let’s stop kidding ourselves that college is the cure all for wise resource management.

There have been some 42 NBA players drafted right after high school. Of those 42 they have accounted for three number one overall selections, two rookie of the year awards, and four league MVPs. They prove college is not necessary for NBA success. While I don’t think every player should skip college ball, colleges standing in the way of the future of the players that are pro-ready is a travesty. We wouldn’t tell a singer, chef, or any other talent-based profession they had to wait to enter their respective field for the good of colleges, so why should basketball be any different?

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The Firing Jeff Fisher Debate… Hire Slow and Fire Fast

February 7, 2011

Read the opposing argument from Optimist Prime.

Getting fired sucks. There is just no way around that. But, getting fired after 16 years on the job? That sting has to feel worse, like when you bang a knee playing football outside in 20-degree weather. That is the kind of sting that stays with a person for a while. That is what Jeff Fisher is likely still experience after he was fired by Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams.

Granted, the timing was terrible. But as the old, tried and true business axiom goes – hire slow and fire fast. Once a team realizes a coach is not the right coach for the team – regardless of the reasons – leadership should act quickly and fire the head coach. The Tennessee Titans acted prudently in their firing of Jeff Fisher, setting the team, and the entire organization, on a much better path for success. Even though it may be difficult to see that right now.

It is unfortunate that the seeming majority of upper echelon coaching candidates were off the market by the time Fisher was let go. But if Fisher wasn’t the right coach for the long term, his firing was unavoidable – no matter what other potential coaching candidates were available.

There are some organizations in sports where owners have far too much influence. In fact, they meddle. Fisher was willing to put up with Titans’ owner Bud Adams and his opinions about personnel. But Fisher erred early in his relationship with Adams by allowing the owner too wield much influence. That early mistake opened the door for the beginning of the end for Fisher, and drafting Vince Young sped up the inevitable.

Vince Young’s bad attitude and ability to receive and miraculously maintain an advocate in Bud Adams prevented Fisher achieving the success he enjoyed early in his head coaching career. But that situation was Fisher’s fault.

Fisher failed because he was unable to oust Young after Young churned through three of his offensive coordinators – including the very well respected Norm Chow. Regardless of how much affection Bud Adams has – or had – for Vince Young, Fisher should have not given into Adams. Adams is not a head football coach, and Fisher should have played the coaching card. It was clear to Fisher early on that Young was not the right quarterback for his style of team. Instead of just standing up for his beliefs and style, he relented to keep his job. It’s hard for a coward to lead a football team.

Without an advocate for a head coach, the team began to take on the persona of its supposed star player, Vince Young. Young’s flighty, unreliable approach to the game infected the rest of the players. The players – it was clear- were given far more power and influence than they should have received. Fisher failed to maintain his hold on authority for his team. They were desperate for a leader able to unite the team, and Fisher could not longer do that. When a leader fails to lead in a business, that leader must be replaced. And Fisher has now rightly been replaced.

Fisher was a good coach at one point. He led a team to within the nose of the football of defeating the vaunted Best Show on Turf in the 2000 Super Bowl. But over time Jeff Fisher allowed his influence and respect to be undermined. He failed to live by his core values, and it is very hard to lead when that is the case. He had to be replaced, though he was once considered one of the game’s best coaches – and probably will be again.

Bud Adams should have fired Jeff Fisher. But in doing so he must also take time and address other issues that are plaguing his organization. The Titans needs a leader who is able to unify the locker room. If the Titans expect to have a fighting chance when they return to the gridiron (whenever that will be), Bud Adams needs to reflect seriously on the management style of his next coach. Hire slow, and fire fast. The timing stinks, but Adams must now take his time and architect a winning organization from the ground up.

But, one thing is clear – Jeff Fisher was not the coach to lead the team anymore. Once that decision is made, it’s best to cut ties. Fisher’s firing was justified.

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The Greatest NFL Franchise Debate… Yinz Got a Long Way To Go

February 3, 2011

Read the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless.

We have heard all the numbers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowls, and could win their seventh on Sunday. The franchise has also tied the Dallas Cowboys for the most Super Bowl appearances (eight) and playoff victories (33) in NFL history.

If the award for being the greatest franchise in league history was given for Super Bowl success, then the Steelers would win the title hands down.

That, however, is not the case.

Perhaps an argument can be made that the Pittsburgh Steelers are the greatest franchise of the Super Bowl era (and even that is based only on the quantity of Super Bowls won). But for a league like the NFL, whose rich history and tradition extends FAR beyond just the league’s current championship game, the assumption that the Super Bowl is the only standard by which franchise greatness can be determined is completely absurd.

Furthermore, making the statement that the Pittsburgh Steelers are the greatest franchise in NFL history, because they have the most Super Bowl success is like saying that Florida is the greatest college football program because it has won the most BCS national championships.

Break down and assess the qualities of the Pittsburgh Steelers that are lauded as justification for the title of “Greatest Franchise in NFL History.” Analysis shows that the Steelers are actually lacking in both quality AND quantity.

We Got Six. How Many Yinz Got?
Ask anyone in Pittsburgh why they think the Steelers are the greatest franchise in NFL history, and that is the response that you will get. Of course, they are referring to their unprecedented six Super Bowl championships (with a possible seventh on the way).

When you consider the fact that there are still five franchises that have never won a single Super Bowl – let alone six Super Bowls – I cannot deny the impressive stature of that claim.

But let’s add the perspective of history to that claim, and see where it REALLY stacks up.

Professional Football in America began in 1920, with the official formation of the NFL coming two years later in 1922. Since then, there have been 88 different NFL championships awarded, only 44 of which were titled Super Bowls.

That means the Super Bowl era only accounts for HALF of the league’s ACTUAL history. So what about the OTHER half?

During that 44 year stretch, the Pittsburgh Steelers won exactly ZERO championships, while teams like the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, and Cleveland Browns owned the gridiron.

In fact, when you look at the total number of professional football championships won, the Steelers six titles ranks them as FIFTH on the list, behind the Green Bay Packers (12), Chicago Bears (nine), Cleveland Browns (eight), and New York Giants (seven). That means that, with a win on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, the “alleged” greatest Franchise in NFL history will climb to the lofty peak of being tied with the New York Giants for only the FOURTH most championships in history.

Conveniently Ignoring History
While the Pittsburgh Steelers have been among the most dominant franchises of the second half of the league’s 88 year history, the team’s first-half performance was ABYSMAL. But the “Yinzers” seem to have forgotten about THOSE years.

For the first 37 years of the franchise’s history the Pittsburgh Steelers played to a combined record of 168-270-18. That’s a HORRIBLE winning percentage of just .368. During that same period the Steelers recorded only five seasons with a winning record (that means 32 losing seasons), and only one post-season appearance, a 1947 blowout at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Then came Chuck Noll and the Steelers’ Dynasty of the 1970s, when the franchise earned four Super Bowl Championships between 1974 and 1979.

Again, the 1970s marked a very impressive run, and the accomplishment cannot be ignored. But when you consider that five year stretch in the context that the league had already crowned 52 OTHER NFL champions before it happened, the accomplishment loses some if its significance historically.

Similarly, the present-day Steelers organization has essentially dominated the league for a period of five years, from 2005–2010.

Therefore, in the 88 year history of the NFL, the Steelers have been dominant for two five-year stretches. THAT’S IT!

The VAST MAJORITY of the Steelers’ 77 year history was spent in pathetic futility.

Other Historical Comparisons
The Pittsburgh Steelers may be tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the most post-season victories in NFL history, but again, many of those victories came at a time in the league when more post-season games were played each season. Using the 2005 Super Bowl championship as an example, that year alone accounted for FOUR different post-season victories.

In terms of historical context, getting four post-season victories in one year is not nearly as impressive as getting a playoff victory in four consecutive years. The team that can consistently sustain post-season success over an extended period of time is by far the greater franchise.

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers, in a 77 year history, have reached the post-season 26 times. By comparison, the Dallas Cowboys have reached the post-season 30 times in a history that spans only 50 years. That’s more appearances by the Cowboys in fewer seasons, and simple math will tell you that the Steelers reach the playoffs only 34 percent of the time, while the Cowboys have done it 60 percent of the time.
  • As for total franchise victories, the Steelers are once again fifth on the list with 541 total victories, behind the Washington Redskins (547), the New York Giants (636), the Green Bay Packers (664), and the Chicago Bears (704).
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers boast a franchise win percentage of .520, ranking them 14th out of 32 active franchises.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a total of 19 Hall of Famers. Compare that to the Chicago Bears (26), or the Green Bay Packers (21).

Keeping Things in Perspective
No matter which way you slice it, the Pittsburgh Steelers fall WELL SHORT of historical superiority. The franchise does not have the most championships, the most Hall of Famers, the most wins, or the best win percentage. And, for the first FOUR DECADES of existence, the Steelers were the bottom-feeders of professional football.

They are a team that was founded before World War II, but not until the mid-1970s did they have ANY success. The only REAL success came in two very different five-year periods that have book-ended the last 40 years.

Yes, the Steelers may have won the most championships in the NFL over the last 44 years, but do they deserve the title of Greatest Franchise in NFL History?

Not by a Cleveland Mile!

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The Best One-Loss Season Debate Verdict

January 26, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Optimist Prime and Babe Ruthless.

It is not very often that you can compare and contrast the radically different sports of horse racing and football, but that is exactly the context of this debate.

Both the 2007 New England Patriots and the horse Zenyatta flirted with immortality before it was cruelly ripped away from them at the zero hour. For the Patriots, they stood on the cusp of becoming the only team in NFL history to cap off a perfect 16-game season with a Super Bowl victory, while Zenyatta entered her final race with the hopes of being the only horse to retire at a perfect 20-0.

Both performed spectacularly. While they may have fallen short of becoming legends, their respective destinations should not overshadow their brilliant journeys.

If we hopped into the way-back machine, and were to assess the 2007 Patriots BEFORE the Super Bowl matchup against the Giants, then compare that to the career of Zenyatta BEFORE the 2010 Breeder’s Cup Classic, whose performance would history deem as being greater?

On history’s behalf, allow me to answer – Zenyatta.

What ultimately won the day for Zenyatta (and vicariously for Optimist Prime) is the fact that Zenyatta’s career was legendary BEFORE her final race. The fact that she lost to Blame at the 2010 Breeder’s Cup Classic is an unfortunate close to her legacy, but she had already established herself among the greatest horses ever to run – win OR lose.

Over her career, as Optimist Prime points out, Zenyatta significantly changed the sport of Horse Racing. In a sport where notoriety traditionally comes from success at the fabled Triple Crown races, Zenyatta blazed a new path to horse racing superstardom.

Thanks to Zenyatta, no longer is a Kentucky Derby victory a pre-requisite for horse racing greatness.

Think about the greatest horses in racing history – Secretariat, War Admiral, Affirmed, and more. Each was made great by their performance in the Triple Crown. Likewise, consider the horses of modern racing who have reached superstar status – Barbaro, Big Brown, Smarty Jones, and more. Just as with the former group, it is their respective Triple Crown performance that give them notoriety.

Zenyatta was different.

Instead of hoping to catch superstardom at the spectacle of the Kentucky Derby, she was the first horse to win two separate races at the Breeder’s Cup, was the first Mare to ever win the Classic, and no other horse has more consecutive Grade/Group One victories than Zenyatta. She became a celebrity by virtue of her outstanding CAREER, rather than her performance in three individual races.

Not since Man o’ War had a horse so captured the public’s eye without racing in the Triple Crown, and that is only because Man o’ War’s time came BEFORE the Triple Crown.

It is true that the New England Patriots also set many records. As Babe Ruthless mentions, they remain the only team ever to complete an undefeated 16-game regular season. But the NFL is always evolving. As it evolves, the statistical accomplishments of previous eras lose relevance. For the very same reasons that Babe Ruthless mitigates the 1972 Dolphins’ perfect season (because it came over a 14, rather than 16, game season), folks will one day mitigate the records of the New England Patriots as we now move closer to an 18-game season.

What does not lose relevance, though, is the fact that there has already been a perfect champion in the NFL. No matter how great the statistical achievements of the 2007 Patriots (as pointed out by Babe Ruthless), they were attempting to REPEAT history, not make it. Yes, it is true that the 1972 Dolphins played two less games, but they were nonetheless perfect champions.

Unlike the 2007 Patriots, Zenyatta was a pioneer.

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The Best One-Loss Season Debate

January 24, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Optimist Prime and Babe Ruthless.

In most years – and in most sports – the notion of perfection is lost long before the possibility is truly believed.

Each sport has its own idea of what constitutes perfection. But, no matter the sport, competitors who flirt with perfection draw a lot of attention. As they near that perfect effort, the pressure mounts. By the time the moment arrives – whether it is the tenth frame, the ninth inning, or the final game of the season – the world is watching.

In that moment when perfection is realized, history is instantly made. But how do you measure a failure to make history, especially when it comes in the final seconds of the quest?

Which brings us to our question for the day.

Whose one-loss effort was better, race horse Zenyatta, or the 2007 New England Patriots?

The 2007 New England Patriots tore through the regular season and stood one game away from becoming only the second team in NFL history to complete a perfect season before losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

In 2010, race horse Zenyatta entered the Breeder’s Cup Classic with an unblemished 19-0 record. The Breeder’s Cup was to be Zenyatta’s final race, and a victory in that race meant that the horse would retire at a perfect 20-0. But in the stretch, it was the horse Blame that claimed the Cup.

History will define both legacies by the number in their respective “L” columns, but we are going to look past those unfortunate numbers for today and focus on which “W” column is greater.

Babe Ruthless feels that the New England Patriots quest for immortality was the better of the two, while Optimist Prime thinks Zenyatta takes the crown (even if only by a nose).

You see… losers can still be winners!

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The Which Lockout Hurts More Debate… NBA Enjoys Fans Thanks to Fair Weather

January 19, 2011

Read the opposing argument from Optimist Prime.

I am just going to come right out on the record – 2011 could be a really lousy year for sports, ESPECIALLY if we have lockouts in both the NBA and the NFL.

There is little doubt that fans would miss the NFL more than they would the NBA. That is not intended as a slight against the NBA, but when you consider the relative popularity of each sport, the NFL is far and away the king. The loss of the NFL, a league where popularity supersedes the NBA, would correspondingly supersede the loss of the NBA.

But we are not arguing about the sport that would be MISSED the most if they both close up shop for part or all of the next season. We are arguing about which sport itself which has more to lose. In answer to that, there is also little doubt – this time it’s the NBA.

Think about it. The NFL is the undisputed champion when it comes to fan support. While the loss of the NFL will greatly impact fans, the clamor for its return will be equally as great. The moment a deal gets signed, and REAL NFL players once again take to the gridiron, fans will flood back in droves. The NFL would not skip a beat in fan support.

The NBA will not be so lucky.

The NBA’s popularity right now is not sustainable. The league has prospered thanks to media obsession and the celebrity of LeBron James. The circus of “The Decision,” as well as the media frenzy in trying to predict where LeBron will sign, has single-handedly fueled the NBA’s national relevance for the past three seasons.

I am not exaggerating. Since 2008, the biggest stories out of the NBA were all about whether LeBron’s latest comments or actions could be an indication of his intentions for the summer of 2010.

Then, once “The Decision” was announced, fans have continued to follow the NBA, because they wanted to A) see how LeBron and company performed in Miami, and B) boo him whenever he comes to town.

Whether good guy or villain, the NBA owes its relevance to LeBron James.

As soon as LeBron goes away, the media will stop caring, the fans will forget, and the league loses all relevance.

Why the difference? Because unlike the NFL, where parity guarantees that every team can contend for the post-season every year, the NBA is completely dominated by a very small handful of franchises, a reality that is demonstrated in several different ways.

Fan Attendance
Even “bad” teams in the NFL repeatedly sell out each of game. In fact, during the 2010 season, nine different franchises AVERAGED sellouts for the entire season, and 30 out of 32 teams averaged to sell AT LEAST 80 percent of their total tickets. Compare that with the NBA, where only seven teams are averaging sellouts for each home game, with nine of the teams in the league failing to even reach that 80 percent total.

When Forbes published their list of the 50 most valuable sports franchises in the world last year, all 32 NFL franchises were on the list BEFORE a single NBA franchise was named, including the Buffalo Bills (33rd), Jacksonville Jaguars (37th), and Detroit Lions (38th). In fact, even the Formula One’s Ferrari Team (16th) is valued greater than any franchise the NBA has to offer. (In case you are wondering, the NBA barely even cracked the top 50, as its two most valuable franchises – the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks – checked in at 49 and 50, respectively).

What do these numbers mean? They mean that fans love the NFL more than the NBA. Even the perennial “losers” like Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo continue to generate greater revenue, and sell more tickets, than the very best of the NBA.

If NBA fans can’t even support their winners in the same manner as the NFL, what on earth is there to entice fans in Minneapolis or in Memphis to come back to the league once they’ve had a few months to forget that their teams stink?

Yes, the NFL would lose a TON of money while the players sit out, but the recovery would be exponentially faster than that of the NBA. It is not the immediacy of the lockout that these leagues need to fear, it is the long term ramifications. Between the NFL and the NBA, the road to recovery will be MUCH rockier for the hoopsters.

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