Fans are bitter over the existing lockout imposed by the owners of the NBA. We want basketball to happen next season but that doesn’t appear to be a likely scenario. Many writers and insiders are speculating that the owners are doing everything in their power to prevent next season from happening.
Before diving into lockout talk, I want to take a walk down the history of the Boston Celtics under Wyc Grousbeck’s control. With the recent news about his stance on the NBA, Wyc has become Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the eyes of Celtics fans.
In 2002, Wycliffe Grousbeck put together a group, Basketball Partners LLC, with notable wealthy men such as Stephen Pagliuca and Wyc’s father, H. Irving Grousbeck to purchase the Boston Celtics for a measly $360 million dollars. Forbes has the Celtics organization valued at $452 million dollars as of January 2011, with revenues of $151 million per year and player expenses around $88 million per season.
Celtic fans embraced this ownership group for their willingness to dig into their pockets to produce a winning product for the fans. This attitude has been missing in this town for quite some time. We'd grown accustomed to “stars” such as Kenny Anderson, Todd Day, and Vin Baker. Having owners willing to pay luxury tax for a winning product was refreshing.
We love the Celtics owner because he cares. You can see him courtside with his wife and son every home game, standing and cheering. He is the Celtics version of Mark Cuban, minus the tee shirts. Then in 2008, we finally got to celebrate another banner.
Considering Wyc's will to win and will to spend, it is hard to understand why Wyc would turn his back on us now, when we need him most. Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski dropped a bombshell in June:
The owners believe they have more tolerance than the players, believe that pain comes with missed checks in November and December and perhaps, finally, a complete cave with time to rush a shortened 50-game regular season and playoffs. Back in the labor talks of 2005, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck would say over and over in the negotiating sessions: The lockout is an investment.
Grousbeck smartened up, kept that thought to himself, but rest assured the mindset hasn’t changed. He’s one of the owners believed to be willing to lose the next season, along with Phoenix’s Robert Sarver. The list goes on and on. The NBA goes away for the summer now, and nothing will get serious again until September when Stern will have to start cancelling games in the 2011-12 season.
This news is shocking because the Celtics still have a competitive product. I understand if we were the post-Lebron Cleveland Cavaliers, but we are not. Banner 18 is what we live for. What benefits would Wyc & Co. have by missing out on another opportunity to raise a banner? The Celtics appear ( I use this word lightly) to be in the positive cash flow, one of the few teams in the league that can’t use accounting tricks to produce a loss, so why stop the money tree from growing?
A few weeks later we learned that Wyc was negotiatin a fat television rights contract with CSNNE. Many writers/bloggers wondered if Wyc crafted the sweetheart deal thanks to inside information gained from his position on the league's planning committee. My colleague Chuck disagreed:
While Wyc leads the NBA Planning Committee, I doubt the other owners will allow him to craft a plan that unfairly benefits his team. I'm confident what happens in those meetings is being passed along to all owners and they'll be smart enough to detect any wrongdoing.
Within the last two months, we have seen Wyc turn from Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde. Despite all the speculation about the negotiations, we may never know the real truth behind their motives. Maybe this ownership group doesn’t want to pay the luxury tax anymore because they don’t believe in the roster on the court. Maybe they are getting ready to dump their investment (pure speculation)? Whatever the reason, we know the lockout and Wyc's prominent role among league owners will continue to damage his image.