The Business of Basketball
Posted on July 8, 2019
I have a special announcement.
This summer, I became engaged.
With postseason basketball. It started with watching Giannis Antetokounmpou play against the Blazers while visiting Portland. At the bar, I kept turning to Kathryn and saying, "Who is that?" as though he was the woman in the red dress in The Matrix. Then we watched him fall to the Board Man himself, Kawhi Leonard. It subsequently became impossible not to watch every second of the NBA Championships. Here was this underdog Toronto team — with their dumb dinosaur logo and dumb superfan Drake — making a nation's dreams come true for the first time in 24 years. I arrived in Toronto four days after the victory parade and was fascinated by how invested businesses in the city were in keeping Kawhi in town. There were stickers on the doors of restaurants and clothing stores and vape emporiums: "Kawhi dines/dresses/vapes free."
I found myself in agony, waiting to hear the news of whether he'd stay or leave for one of the Los Angeles teams that were courting him. I made spreadsheets and Airtables, logging the trades that were happening. I learned about salary caps, ownership changes and the intricacies of coaching staffs. That's when I realized — thankfully, because it's much more on brand — that I love the offseason even more than the postseason.
But! As I watched hours of my life disappear into researching this new hobby, it became clear that this is well-trodden ground. There are thousands of official and unofficial "takes" on how bizball (my nickname for the business of basketball) functions.
Still, I've discovered a new pleasure, and don't necessarily want to give this up. So I thought: What about a younger league?
With only 12 teams and a roster of 12 players each, the WNBA is easier to understand. The tickets are also cheaper if I want to attend one of the games of my hometown team, The Sparks.
And through reading the "business" section of the WNBA Wikipedia entry, it's clear the WNBA is a growing business that will be making a lot of changes as it expands. Time and energy, like money, should be invested in growth opportunities.
On the other hand, knowing a lot about the business side of the WNBA doesn't lend itself to the casual banter of talking about the NBA, which is a great way to build rapport and eventually do business with sports-minded business people. I see pros and cons in both of these intellectual pursuits.
So I'm leaving this up to the shareholders.
Should I focus my casual interest in the business of basketball to the WNBA?
Vote yes and I get to start a brand new Airtable or vote no and I'll put that casual interest into the bizball of the NBA.