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The NBA Calls Time Out, but Life Goes On

A man’s got to know his limitations. So, too, does a league.

The NBA collective apparently looked in the mirror and saw the NFL with slightly shorter pants. This staggering lack of understanding will prove costly to all.

David Stern, NBA commissioner, has said that the NBA Players Association’s move to disband the union is an act of “self-destruction” and declared that the NBA is entering a “nuclear winter.”

I don’t disagree. The odds have greatly increased that there will not be a season.

But there’s a lot of “self-destruction” to go around here.

Stern consistently miscalculates where his league ranks in the American sports pecking order. Union executive director Billy Hunter also has an inflated opinion of the NBA’s relevance. Nothing compares to the NFL and where college football is a distinctly different animal from the NFL, college basketball more easily assumes the role of surrogate for the NBA.

“More TV time for us,” said Memphis Tiger Wesley Witherspoon. “That’s how we’re looking at it.”

Major League Baseball has overcome its tendencies for self-destruction because it’s the summer game and its generational DNA is older and stronger. Tell me where there’s an NBA equivalent of Wrigley Field, home of a franchise that can make a brand out of its players being “lovable losers?”

No, fans expect NBA teams to deliver playoff teams and superstars. People don’t fill Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena – and yes, that’s the real name – for the sun, beer and hot dogs.

The American economy, if not in a nuclear winter, seems to be forever waiting on spring, and so there is no sympathy for Wall Street types (owners); nor is there any sympathy for even nice-guy superstars like Kevin Durant, who when in town for Rudy Gay’s charity game parroted the union’s party line by saying players don’t want to be “bullied” into a bad deal.

Well, guess what? Teachers, nurses and firefighters – otherwise known as ticket-buyers – don’t want to be bullied, either.

The difference is NBA fans know their limits. And they will quickly reach theirs, not losing sleep, saving money, and perhaps forgetting why they cared in the first place.

Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team Hiring

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton’s office has announced seven open positions on the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team.

Memphis earlier this year was chosen by Bloomberg Philanthropies as one of five U.S. cities (along with Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, Ky., and New Orleans) to receive a three-year grant to fund a team dedicated to developing effective solutions to tackle some of the city’s most pressing challenges. The history-making grants represents one of the largest private-sector commitments ever focused on social innovation.

The team of seven, which will be housed within the mayor’s office, will be charged with reducing handgun violence, particularly among juveniles, and supporting economic growth in core Memphis neighborhoods. According to the mayor’s blog, his office is looking for “bold, visionary urban leaders excited about the prospect of working in a collaborative, innovative environment to generate the new solutions that will help Memphis – and all American cities – advance and prosper.”

Click here for detailed job descriptions.

Loss of NBA season means loss of $4.5M in local revenue

The loss of an entire NBA season would also mean the loss of an estimated $4.5 million in local revenue.

That’s what Memphis City Council members were told in a committee session Tuesday by Lisa Daniel, managing director of Public Financial Management. PFM is an advisor to the Memphis-Shelby County Sports Authority.

That $4.5 million loss comes primarily from lost seat use fee revenue at FedExForum and a sales tax rebate on NBA-related sales like tickets, concessions and novelties. Both losses, of course, come because games aren’t happening. No one is buying tickets and paying the seat use fee, and fans aren’t lining up on game day to buy concessions and novelty items.

But that lost revenue wouldn’t immediately mean the city or county has to scramble to make up the difference. A “senior surplus fund” would be tapped because of the expected $4.5 million loss, Daniel said.

There’s another reserve fund that currently holds about $23 million. The city and county are pledged to replenish any draw from that fund.

Meanwhile, the entire 2011-2012 NBA season has been thrown into doubt following a rejection by players Monday of what’s been described as the league’s final offer – according to the Wall Street Journal, it was “a proposal to split revenue about 50-50 and start a 72-game season on Dec. 15.”

According to the WSJ, players have begun a move to disband their union, “a legal tactic that would allow the players to bring an antitrust lawsuit against the league.”

Memphian David Waddell in the Wall Street Journal

Memphis economist and investment professional David Waddell is always great for insight – and a good quote – about the economy.

Here’s what he recently gave the Wall Street Journal about the importance of a good education for an economist like him:

“My economics degree and analytical background is useless in a political environment, where so much of this is about handicapping whether Europe comes up with a plan or not,” Waddell told the WSJ. “While ruminating on the markets during a recent morning jog, it struck Mr. Waddell that success in the stock market required a money manager to be part market historian, part global economist, part stock analyst, part China expert, part political scientist and part psychologist. ‘I should have stayed in school.’”

A New Homecoming

 

Veterans Day parades are interesting for who is in the parades and who is watching the parades from the sidelines.

Watch enough parades and you can see the transition veterans of our wars make over time.

I can still remember watching the parades in the late 70s and early 80s when the World War II veterans were still the dominant group – the definition of veterans to my generation – along with a few World War I vets.

Watching from the sidewalk in a few clusters, the recently returned Vietnam vets in the old Army jackets and blue jeans.

These days they are the ones back in uniform for a day, walking in the parades, waving to children and saluting the flag – safely past the turbulent personal transition that is part of what we ask those in our military to endure but never seem to plan adequately for despite seeing this for several generations.

Some things have changed. Those in our military volunteer and are no longer drafted.

The terrain that shapes one end of the reality in transition for our newest veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan is different than the terrain of Vietnam in the 1960s or Korea in the 1950s or Europe and the Pacific in the 1940s.

Maybe hostility is a very specific experience. When someone you don’t know is trying to kill you and everyone wearing the same uniform around you, it might make every feature of what’s around you indelible. And another person’s danger is never going to be the same as the danger you’ve grappled with.

I can still remember one of the last of our local World War I veterans at National Cemetery on a Memorial Day a while back.

I spotted his VFW cap in the crowd of those seated in wooden folding chairs almost but not quite within the shade of one of the large trees within the brick walls.

Approaching him from behind, he turned a bit stiffly for what I thought would be a meaningful but probably brief exchange. His family was already indicating not to keep him too long. It had already been a long day and they were clearly conserving his energy and aware of just how emotional this could be for him.

At first he talked about what the day and place in the here and now meant. But in mid sentence, he closed his eyes and rather suddenly began describing what he was seeing — he was guiding a boat through a harbor filled with the wreckage of ships and bodies. He recalled the cold wind, the colder water, the light on the water and on the boat rails rising from the water – even the rough cautions of a superior officer telling him to keep his mind on a path for the boat not what was in the water.

For a minute or two, not only was he on the boat but so was I and everyone able to hear his worn, brittle voice. It was one of those compelling moments without any warning or context.

Those vivid memories were still capable of surfacing in the still waters of a long life near its end. Just as suddenly the waters were again calm, his eyes opened to see us in the present and his voice became less urgent.

It is little wonder that those memories when still fresh can collide with a return to a past reality. And there can be uncertainty about which is real or if either is real.

To be sure, most veterans weather this with transition with few problems.

And the story of the civil rights movement must include veterans returning from World War II with a determination that they would shape a new reality testing the ideal they had fought for that America itself had not yet fully realized.

For those caught inbetween the realities of war and peace and their coexistence in different places at the same time, we should by now have a better way to help where we can when they return for a homecoming and find themselves strangers.

A new homecoming is almost upon us.

 

 

Dansette

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