When I first heard that Wyc Grousbeck was a hard-liner who was willing to lose a season to the lockout, I thought he was flat-out nuts. But that's because I thought of things from a fan perspective. I thought "hey, Boston's one of the big-market teams. We can keep on winning as long as he keeps on spending."
Of course we fans think that. It's not our money. Wyc, on the other hand, is spending his own money. To his great credit, he has spent plenty to get the Celtics their 17th banner. He has worked within the system, and spent what was needed. Now he just wants to change the system so he's not spending as much money.
The reason for this seeming contradiction is related to the enhanced revenue-sharing system the league will implement. The big-market owners will bear the brunt of the new system and, according to sources, some of them are adamant about having a hard cap so that if they must share revenues, they’ll have more money from which to pull.
“The big markets want to revenue share but not with their current profits,’’ one of the sources said. “Instead, they want to share from the profit they would get from a harder cap.’’
Boston’s Wyc Grousbeck has been widely reported to be a hawk, but it is not clear which of the other big-market owners – some of whom are New York’s James Dolan, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Jerry Buss, Chicago’s Jerry Reinsdorf and Toronto’s Larry Tanenbaum – share his philosophy.
Basically, what that means is big-market teams will have to give more money to small market teams. With a hard cap, Wyc and other major-market owners would have more in their bank accounts from which to pull. Thus, with a hard cap, Wyc can share revenue but still turn a nice profit.
From his perspective, it makes sense. From a basketball perspective, it does not. And a hard cap is simply not a fair system. Players are both employees AND the product being sold. Without them, there is no revenue. A hard cap just funnels more money into the owners' pockets without the players seeing any financial benefit from added success.
And I know what some of you are thinking. "Aren't the millions of dollars enough?" I get where that comes from, because under a microscope, a guy getting a few million dollars to play basketball should be thanking everyone for that. If I could play ball for six-figures I'd do it.
But the question is, would you play basketball for $2 million if you knew your abilities were helping the owner take in $150 million in revenues? Would you think your few million was enough when the team took in $68 million from tickets alone? Hell, the fans are there to see you play, right? And if the team makes $80 million from tickets next season, don't you think you should be entitled to a raise?
It's not about making an absurd amount of money to play a game. I agree that making millions to play ball is insane. But I also believe players deserve a fair cut of what's coming in to the team. If the team only brought in $200,000 a year, then player salaries should be a percentage of that. But teams make a lot more.
A hard cap doesn't fairly split that revenue. The players getting 57% is too much, but their incomes should be tied to revenues. I know what Wyc is doing, but it's the wrong thing to do in the grand scheme of things. There's a way to get this done without digging into the season. Hawks like Wyc won't get everything they want, but they'll get something. And if they bend a little, we'll get something too. A basketball season.