Does The World Revolve Around The L.A. Lakers?

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times is a top-notch beat writer; he covers the L.A. Lakers extraordinarily well. But this passage responding to reports the Lakers' fat new TV deal emboldened revenue sharing hardliners strikes me as ... problematic.

[O]ne only has to look at the Clippers to know that money and the Hollywood lifestyle don't guarantee success. For all the penny-pinching, poor management and bad culture Donald Sterling has passed down, [Jerry] Buss has laid down a solid foundation with a healthy mix of risk-taking, spending and smart decision-making.

There's no reason why any NBA team besides the Lakers should benefit from such leadership.

Well, I can think of plenty of reasons. For one, the Lakers play in the National Basketball Association. This is not the Harlem Globetrotters. (And hell, even if it were, the Washington Generals get paid too, you know.) For another, thanks to the L.A. lifestyle and its associated benefits to young rich men, the Lakers have often used the rest of the league like a farm team. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar demanded a trade to New York and L.A. after winning a title in Milwaukee. Shaq moved from Orlando to Inglewood. Kobe Bryant all but called his shot in the draft. And those wins brought about more victories, like pulling Phil Jackson (thanks to the list of championship ingredients assembled).

Buss deserves to profit handsomely for his strong record of management. That's not the question. No one wants to take all of the Lakers' money and give it to the Grizzlies. That's not what revenue sharing will be or should be about. Revenue sharing is about acknowledging that teams like the Lakers (No. 2 market in the United States), Knicks (No. 1 market) and Bulls (No. 3 market) have substantial economic advantages based solely on circumstance. Sterling does too, but he's an idiot. He can't or won't capitalize. James Dolan had that problem for a while, too, by enabling a bad general manager to do long-term damage.

Revenue sharing is about giving teams without the geographic advantages of the Lakers and Knicks and Bulls an opportunity to make some money off of the grand experiment that is the NBA. If Buss doesn't like it, we can move five or six teams to L.A. to share the fruits of the population center. Then we'll see just how much of the Lakers' bottom line depends on Buss' genius vs. the obvious economic benefits of being based in Los Angeles.

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