11.29.2009

The King and $1


For someone who follows both sports and business avidly, I actually know very little about sports business. But this article, linked to from Marginal Revolution, piqued my interest: "The Discount Dynasty." The author, Chris Ballard, argues that Cleveland Cavaliers uber-star LeBron James should re-up for $1 a year. The parallel he makes is Steve Jobs working at Apple for $1, but the analogy isn't strong enough: because of the NBA's salary cap rules, LBJ earning $1 is actually a huge competitive advantage for the team he plays for, because they can use that cap space to get a lot more talent than would otherwise be allowed to co-exist with him.

Not that this guarantees a championship - you still have to play the games - but you wonder why athletes who rake in big bucks in endorsements don't do this more often. Salaries become marginally useful even if you like the high life, whereas championships are the scarcest of resources that may be worth sacrificing those marginal dollars for.

Ballard is right that it makes particular sense for LBJ, a trailblazing and iconic figure if there ever was one. In fact, I wonder why his people haven't auctioned off the idea as part of a "Follow LBJ" reality show, in which his every move - sports-related, business-related, and so on - is captured on film and manipulated to help craft the image he works so hard to polish. So c'mon, LeBron: play for a $1, pick your favorite Robin to your Batman, and let the championships roll in. I'll be telling my grandkids about a very short list of basketball players I saw when I was growing up - Magic/Bird, MJ, the Dream, Shaq, Duncan, Kobe, AI - but with a run of titles under your belt, you could be the G.O.A.T.

Post a Comment