Friday, September 18, 2009

Stephen Jackson and the NBA's Quiet Desperation

Stephen Jackson or "S-Jax" was fined $25000 for conduct "detrimental to the NBA." Several hoops sites already profiled this fine, such as Warrior blogger Tim Kawakami and Henry Abbott. They pointed out the hypocrisy of Stephen getting fined for making a trade demand while Kobe was not. But there was another point that I want to highlight.

Simply put, the fine shows you how desperate the NBA's economic situation truly is. The Golden State Warriors are at least in the top half of season ticket sales and attendance by most metrics I looked up. Just a few years ago, their fans had the most passionate play-off performance seen in the NBA since perhaps the heyday of the Jazz or Kings. And yet, they're coming off a bad year, in a state plagued by poor economic management. Stephen's trade demand is a sort of economic blackmail. He's their only marquee star right now that they can market for ticket renewals. (No, the casual fan can't appreciate that Randolph, Curry, and Ellis all may be future All-Stars). In my mind, the NBA fined him because they realized just how great an effect a trade demand can have on a team's ticket sales in this weak economy. And if that is truly why--that one average star in a passionate sports town can have that much effect on ticket renewals--the NBA is in a much more precarious position than they have admitted so far.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

MCBias Live: Cycling

I had a nice surprise earlier this summer; I finally got to meet one of my interviewees from this blog. I had previously interviewed Kathryn Bertine, who was working hard towards her dream to make the Olympics in 2008. ESPN was sponsoring her, and she wrote some very funny blogs on her quest to qualify in sports as diverse as fencing and cycling. She didn't make it in 2008, but she's continued competing in cycling since then. When I got her e-mail update, I decided to see a cycling race for myself.

What surprised me most about the experience is how effortless the women make racing look. They are working very hard to stay close to the pack, but they don't waste any energy doing so. I was talking to Kathryn after the race, and she explained that course curves also have a lot to do with the race outcome. Unlike, say, the Tour de France, the Chris Thater had laps, and so turning precisely was key. That unfortunately held Kathryn back from a great performance, but she was optimistic that it would make the time trials she's practicing for seem easy. Thanks to Kathryn for the time after the race--I know personally I'd be too tired to hold much of a conversation, but it was still a good chat. Best of luck in the time trials!

See below for my pictures and video from Chris Thater Women's Pro. They are fairly self-explanatory. You can see the riders after the race chatting with one another and checking to see how the equipment held up after the race. There was one accident. Thankfully the rider was ok, it happened before I arrived. Click any photo to get a larger picture.

I tried to take pictures of the cyclists as they sped around the track, but it was too quick for me! So I used video instead. This short clip gives you an idea of the speed.