In the best of economic times, I often wondered how a league like the NBA, which gets crappy TV ratings, has teams in tiny markets like New Orleans, Sacto, Memphis and OKC, and has a product that many regard as lacking could continue to support the mammoth salaries of its players.
(Found: How to convert Kitty From Kobe To Kaman Fan)
Now with the economy imploding, and NBA owners forced to take out loans to cover operating costs, it appears that reality is finally setting in for the league and its players.
Oh, wait, scratch the latter.
Jill Painter of the L.A. DAILY NEWS reports that at least one NBA player is apparently blissfully unaware of the world we now live in. Why else would he be charging fans $50 just to see any content on his website?
At Kb24.com, the NBA’s reigning MVP will post at least once every couple of weeks.
As a loyal Bryant fan, you’ll learn tidbits about his family. You’ll see training sessions, too.
All for $49.95.
If you’re not a Kobe Bryant fan club member, you can read news and statistics, but you can get that stuff anywhere. The premium content is for paying customers only.
You get the goods when you deliver the credit card.
Let’s be fair on this. There’s a possibility that Bryant doesn’t even know about the ridiculous charge. Or that the charge was established before the economy collapsed. But even during the days when we all enjoyed a sounder financial standing, jacking $50 for bi-monthly blog posts and fascinating family “tidbits” is a little like the Yankees charging $2,600 for a single ticket. (Oh, wait.)
Painter justifiably mocks the concept, but also lauds various pro teams that are lowering prices on tickets and concessions in response to deteriorating fan finances. What she fails to mention in that comparison is that the teams are doing that out of necessity. Whereas Bryant isn’t desperating trying to shore up cash every two weeks to meet payroll.
Kobe doesn’t need money, which is precisely the reason he’s charging. Don’t like it? See you at the dollar Dodger dog stand kiddos!
The greater question going forward is how soon before the economic crisis materially impacts salaries of pro sports stars like Bryant? The answer to that is buried on the balance sheets of team owners. If they lost big in the stock market, then you can bet they’ll be cutting back on the bench. But if they run a solid team operation in a large market, and their core biz is recession-proof, they’re more likely to keep the cash flowing.
In other words, this downturn could be a great opportunity for a well-funded owner to acquire great players at bargain basement prices. That’s one of the primary reasons you can almost guarantee that cash-strapped New Orleans Hornets Owner George Shinn will sell Chris Paul to the highest bidder at season’s end.
A guy like Mark Cuban, if he can shrug off salary cap impediments, could be a big winner this offseason if the economy takes another leg down.