Marcos Breton: Sacramento should root for NBA owners in standoff

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011 - 10:53 am

NBA owners and players met all day Tuesday and into the night with a federal mediator, by the far the longest bargaining session in the 100-plus-day lockout that caused the cancellation of the first two weeks of the season.

As I write this, there is no hint of what the meeting will mean for the rest of the 2011-12 season and for the fortunes of teams in waiting, such as the Kings.

If I lived in Los Angeles, New York or Chicago, I'd be rooting for the players to win this labor standoff and for the season to start right away.

But living and working in Sacramento, one of the smallest of the NBA's small markets, I want the owners to win. I want the owners' desire for spending controls to prevail. I want the league to combine real revenue-sharing between big teams and small teams, along with restrictions that would make it harder for big-money teams to spend smaller ones into oblivion.

Some have feared a long NBA lockout will hurt Sacramento's efforts to build a new arena, but actually the exact opposite is true:

The longer the lockout, the better for Sacramento.

You can build all the arenas you want, but unless the NBA fundamentally changes the way it does business and tilts its financial rules, small markets such as Sacramento will always be in trouble.

It's not like Sacramento's proposed arena will ever be subject to an up-or-down vote by the public. It won't.

Sacramento City Council members will face some challenging votes related to arena financing in the near future, but the suggestion that a winning Kings team would make those votes easier is a stretch at best.

An arena either makes sense for Sacramento or it doesn't.

But as anchor tenants of a new arena, the Kings would be among the NBA teams most in need of sensible concessions from players on NBA revenues. The Kings would benefit from more equitable distribution of revenues between big-city teams and small-city teams. And the Kings would be protected by constraints on player salaries, team payrolls, player movement and loopholes used by big teams to stock their rosters with talent.

The model the NBA should follow is the National Football League, where teams split fortunes and stack player movement rules to level the playing field. If you run your team well in the NFL, you can win the Super Bowl.

But in the NBA (and if you remove the San Antonio Spurs from the equation), do you know how many small-market teams have won the NBA title in the last 30 years?

None.

With any luck, Sacramento will build a new arena and the Kings' long-term future in Sacramento will be secured.

But for that future to be a more successful one, Sacramento – and all small markets – need NBA owners to win this standoff no matter how long it takes.

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Read more articles by Marcos Breton



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