FanDuel - WFBC

December 04, 2007

Walton, Stern, and Moralizing the Lig: An examination of the NBA landscape, and the message of morality in the league. A column by sportsfilter member lilnemo.

posted by justgary to basketball at 12:23 PM - 3 comments

Good column, lilnemo. Why is basketball more susceptible to this phenomenon than football? You rarely hear commentators or stars criticizing football in the same way. One things that bothers me about this idea that winning is the most important is the shopping around for a winning team. Guys like Garnett and Payton (and Kobe, maybe) searching for a team that is going to win the championship just stinks. It doesn't seem to me that it should be about winning a championship with any group of players, but winning it where you came up, or with the guys you have been playing with. Winning becomes more important than the team game.

posted by bperk at 11:05 AM on December 05

Thanks. Why is basketball more susceptible to this phenomenon than football? You rarely hear commentators or stars criticizing football in the same way. To my eye, football is marketed, and run by the league, differently. The NFL has never marketed players to the degree that the NBA has. The NFL has always marketed teams over individuals. Its strange that, just like in the NBA, the league's marketing strategy has been absorbed by the rulebook. Over the last ten years, take a look at all of the rules regarding celebrations, or removing helmets on the field. The NFL has tried to take most of the creative expression and individuality out of the game. The league has gone to great lengths to ensure that everyone on the field of play is uniform. While some have bristled under these rules (TO, Warren Sapp, I'm looking at you), it has convinced the fans that what matters to the league is the product on the field. Contrast this with the NBA, whose officiating, rules (both on court and off), and personalities (also on court and off) are seen to be bigger problems than that of the NFL. It doesn't seem to me that it should be about winning a championship with any group of players, but winning it where you came up, or with the guys you have been playing with. A romantic view, but since the inception of free agency, such things rarely happen anymore. Personally, I don't see a problem with it. Its interesting to see how these things play out. There are some players who move on to other teams to chase a championship who seem to receive nothing but well-wishes from fans everywhere (think Kevin Garnett here). There are others who have just as good a track record, who are soundly criticized in most corners (Karl Malone fits in nicely here). A lot of it has to do with the players personality, their quality of play, their tenure in their original NBA city, their relationship with ownership and how fans perceive these things (or how they're related to them via various media).

posted by lilnemo at 12:41 PM on December 05

Why is basketball more susceptible to this phenomenon than football? You rarely hear commentators or stars criticizing football in the same way. I agree with lilnemo, it has to do with guys having hemets on in the NFL and the league having a philosophy that you don't really see the person inside the uniform during the game. Ex. you can't take off your helmet on the field. Also, due to the nature of the sport, you have about 30 guys that are starters (offense, defense & special teams) on a team and only a few individual players are exceptional impact players on, and off, the field. After all, a good QB isn't a good QB without at least a decent offensive line. I think most people remember Archie Manning as a great college player who never had a chance to be a great pro, because the Saints teams he was on were so weak. Or a great defensive player can't stop an offense singlehanded. It takes a great team concept to be a great team in the NFL. The NBA works not completely opposite this, but close. The league - heck, the sport - is designed that 1 player can dominate a game. They don't necessarily win titles, because they can meet a strong team that can neutralize a great player. The team with the best player on the court usually wins. But a single great player, or a very good player having a great year, can turn a franchise around. Most teams are only 8 or 9 players deep, and their faces and bodies are exposed for everyone to see. I've heard many comments about tattoos on NBA players and very few about tattoos on NFL players, but I don't think that it is any less prevalent in the NFL. But we all see it upfront in the NBA during the games and we don't in the NFL. So the individual NBA player becomes the face of the franchise. Philadelphia is a great present example - Iverson was that franchise, but he had for several years, not been the top player able to carry a franchise like he used to be. But he sold out the building and was a draw on the road and ownership was considering selling the team, so all marketing was about AI - can he go out and score 40 tonight. This is in a town that never sold out the building on a consistent basis - even when Wilt or Dr. J was there. So when the team stopped selling out the building and was just plain bad, he was dumped. Too late, definitely, that's what ultimately cost Billy King his job. But it shows that the personalities drive the league, because good or bad, the sport is marketed by its faces.

posted by MrNix at 06:16 PM on December 05

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