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Much has been made of the plan the Oklahoma City Thunder followed in building a title contender. Here are the basic steps the Thunder supposedly followed:
1.Lose a bunch of games across a few seasons, which allows a team to accumulate lottery picks
2. Draft “stars” with lottery picks
3. Sign “stars” to long-term contracts
4. Win a title (or more)
The Thunder did well with step one. Starting with their last two seasons in Seattle in 2006-07, this franchise had three seasons where it won 31 games, 20 games, and 23 games.
These performances primarily led to the following four high picks in the draft: Read More »
Stephen J. DUBNER: This is the Camino Real farmer’s market in Goleta, California. It’s in Santa Barbara County, about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The produce is bountiful, and it’s local… [SANTA BARBARA FARMER’S MARKET] [SHOPPER] You use that on ribs? [SHOPPER] Yeah! It’s so good. [JEFF] We’ve got lettuce, and greens and chard, leeks […] Read More »
Stephen J. DUBNER: The Union Square Greenmarket in New York City, which was founded in 1976, is a little agrarian oasis right in the heart of the city, it’s a throwback to how we used to buy our food. The writer John McPhee once spent some time in New York’s farmers markets, selling peppers and […] Read More »
Stephen J. DUBNER: What did you have for dinner last night? Pasta with mushroom sauce. Grilled cheese sandwiches. Artichokes and cardoons and capers. We had leftovers. I would call it a chicken kiev. Meyer lemon fennel treat. I just got a hot dog on the street. DUBNER: What’d you […] Read More »
The Portland Trail Blazers – a team that won 48 games in 2010-11 and was only three games below 0.500 this season – made two puzzling trades a couple of weeks ago. Gerald Wallace was sent to the New Jersey Nets for two injured players and a first round pick in the 2012 draft. And Marcus Camby was sent to the Houston Rockets for a second round pick and two players who had only played 158 minutes this year.
Camby and Wallace combined to produce more than 10 wins for the Blazers this season, and at the time of the trade their level of productivity led the team. Given what the Blazers received back, it seems likely the Blazers just got worse. Read More »
March Madness is in the air. Over the next few weeks the nation will be focused on the fortunes of 68 college teams. And all this focus on a supposedly amateur sport generates tremendous amounts of money. For example, in 2010 CBS and Turner Broadcasting agree to pay the NCAA $10.8 billion to broadcast these games for fourteen seasons. This money represents more than 90% of the NCAA’s revenues.
Since colleges and universities tend to be non-profit, who gets all this money? One person who seems to benefit is John Calipari, head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky. Last summer, Kentucky extended Calipari’s contract, with a new deal that will pay him $36.5 million across the next eight seasons. Contracts like this – which seem comparable to what an NBA coach might command — are somewhat surprising. As economist Andrew Zimbalist has observed, the revenues of college sports – although apparently immense – pale in comparison to what we see in professional sports. And that leads one to wonder how a coach in college can command such a salary. Read More »
The Sacramento Kings will continue to exist. This week, the City Council approved a plan to finance a new home for the Kings in Sacramento. The price tag, though, is pretty steep. The arena will cost $391 million, and $255.5 million will be coming from the city of Sacramento.
Opponents of this plan – and there were just two on the nine-member Council – noted that sports arenas don’t provide much economic benefit. Furthermore, they questioned why public money should be given to a private business.
As Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy – who voted no – observed: “This city is on the verge of insolvency. As far as I know, we still technically qualify for bankruptcy under federal law.”
Proponents of this plan, though, argued that this plan will create jobs and economic benefits. And it was this argument that apparently persuaded the majority.
So we have two perspectives and one question: Do sports generate jobs and economic growth? Read More »
Listen to an NBA coach during a game and you will often hear him scream something like the following:
- “You have to share the ball.”
- “Start looking for your teammates.”
- “Quit taking the first damn shot you see.”
- “Come on, pass the damn ball.”
Why do coaches have to keep screaming this message? The answer seems easy. Basketball players love to shoot. In other words, many players have trouble resisting their inner ball hog. Consequently, coaches have to scream a lot.
Academic meetings typically involve less screaming. But the behavior we see in these meetings is surprisingly similar to what we see on a basketball court. For example, recently I attended a meeting at Southern Utah University. The meeting began at 4 pm, and 25 minutes later we still hadn’t started on the items that were the actual subject of this gathering. Instead, numerous people had chimed in on items we supposedly had finished in our previous meeting (and other issues not related to the subject at hand). Read More »