Boy, that NBA collective bargaining agreement is looking good, don't you think?
You remember. The labor strife that cost us 16 games per team in the 2011-12 season and much consternation. The contract that was supposed to give the little guy a fighting chance in the NBA.
Let's see. Since that late November night when pro hoops yelled “Play Ball!,” here are the superstars who have migrated.
Chris Paul to Los Angeles. Dwight Howard to Los Angeles. Now Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn.
To quote F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was either an author or a Sacramento power forward, I forget which: “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.”
But it's good for the NBA that the owners who can buy any ballplayer they want don't always buy brains, too.
The Celtics back in 2007 started the fad of aggregating superstars. Then the Heat in 2010. Buoyed by both winning titles immediately or the next year, the Lakers adopted the strategy last summer and now come the Nets.
With less success. The Lakers went belly up last season despite adding Steve Nash and Howard; now LA is stuck with an old, slow, payroll-bloated roster.
It would be no great surprise if the same happens to Brooklyn. The Nets traded half their roster plus three first-round draft picks for a trio with a combined age of 109.
Brooklyn will have a bunch of wise veterans who can score. Not one of them with young legs. The Nets will be old and slow and hard-pressed to defend, despite the addition of Garnett, who still can police the paint at age 37.
If anything, the Nets passed the Knickerbockers — don't you love a good melodrama involving the super rich? — for fourth-best team in the East. But nothing else.
Still, it's a troubling trend for the NBA. We're lucky here in Oklahoma City, where young superstars are signed up for years to come. And down in San Antonio, the Spurs know what they're doing, which might not put them in the pole position but annually gives them a spot near the front row.
But most NBA outposts have to sit with their palms up, saying, what the heck?
When you institute a system with a punitive luxury tax that scares off most franchises but is scoffed at by a few, competitive balance grows cloudy.
The Lakers, with their gaudy LA television contract, and the Nets, with their Russian billionaire, treat the luxury tax like the stop between Boardwalk and Park Place. Pay $75 and go on about your business.
The Nets' salary commitments for next season are at $94 million, and that's for only 10 players. Brooklyn's luxury tax bill next summer figures to be $50 million. So Mikhail Prokhorov is spending at least $150 million for his payroll next season. And still might not get past the first round of the playoffs.
And just wait until the repeater tax kicks in for summer 2015. If the Nets want to go $30 million over the luxury tax threshold, they could owe $110 million in penalties. But that's monopoly money to Prokhorov, who made his fortune in precious metals and now wants NBA gold.
The NBA always has had migrant superstars. Wilt Chamberlain, at age 28, traded from the Warriors to the 76ers. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, also 28, sent from Milwaukee to the Lakers. Moses Malone, 27, jumping from Houston to Philadelphia in free agency. Shaquille O'Neal, 24, jumping from Orlando to the Lakers.
But now we've got the aggregation, which has produced three of the past six NBA titles (Boston one, Miami two). Either players forming their own tandem to join a team, or teams conspiring to add a dynamic duo.
Which inspires copycats. Not just the Lakers and Nets, but the likes of Dallas and Atlanta, too, both of whom had or have hopes of luring the likes of Howard and Paul together.
Alas, neither the Mavs nor the Hawks play near the ocean, so good luck with that.
Dallas and Atlanta, not exactly Baltic and Mediterranean on the NBA board, are like the rest of us in the league. Having to get by partly on draft luck and mostly on smarts, while quietly seething that the collective bargaining agreement has been a big bust.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.