A City Divided: Jerry Buss Wants to do a Deal, Donald Sterling Does Not

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Among the many problems plaguing the NBA lockout is the fact that the owners are anything but a united front. At the heart of the matter, as you’d expect, is the continued insistence on restructuring the NBA’s business model. Some owners demand economical reform. Others are telling those same owners they need spending restraint. Whatever the case this just further illustrates how big of a Lindsay Lohan-esque mess this situation truly is.

The L.A. Times put together a fantastic piece that breaks down each owner and where they stand on the lockout. Now keep in mind the league has instituted a gag order so you’ll have to take the piece with a grain of salt. Relying on various sources the Times’ article shows why it has been impossible to make any progress.

What is interesting is the stance taken by the two men that own franchises in the country’s second largest media market – here in Los Angeles. Breaking the owners down into two separate categories, the Times has Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss as a “Dove” while Clipper cheapskate Donald Sterling weighs in as a “Hawk”. To clarify, the Doves are the owners willing to make some concessions for the sake of getting a new CBA and thus getting a season. The Hawks are the ones that have dug in and are willing to blow off the season just to get their way.

Here is what the article has to say about each.

Donald Sterling, Clippers. His teams lose on the court, not on the accounting ledger. Has plenty of money to wait it out.

Jerry Buss, Lakers: Any time away from the court is lost money for a successful owner who has little revenue stream outside of basketball.


To me, the differing stance by two wealthy owners in a mega market shows how impossible a task it will be to end this lockout. Buss makes his money in basketball and has a genuine concern for the product. Rumor has it he was ready to push for a deal until Paul Allen flexed his Microsoft muscle to force the 50-50 split issue.

Sterling, on the other hand, has his millions tied up in real estate throughout L.A. in addition to his side hustle – the Clippers. To Sterling it means little if the entire season goes the way of Stephon Marbury’s career.

It should be noted that other Doves include Mark Cuban, James Dolan, Micky Arison and Mikhail Prokhorov.

The Hawks are headlined by Paul Allen, Michael Jordan, Dan Gilbert, The Maloofs and David Stern who represents the interest of the New Orleans Hornets.

The division of the two L.A. owners says a lot about this ordeal. It shows that this is not just about small market vs. big market as you might be led to believe. This is about business. Plain and simple. Just like any other line of work, the business of hoops is increasingly complex. Without a united front amongst owners this lockout looks likely to claim more of the season.

Now of all the Hawks spelled out in the Times piece the one that really sticks out is Michael Jordan. You might think MJ would be a little more closely aligned with the players being that he’s been on both sides of the fence for this type of labor strife. Proving that the business of basketball is not the same arena as the game itself, the Times’ description of Jordan’s stance is revealing.

Michael Jordan, Charlotte. Has millions but is “looking to save money and lower salaries. M.J. is getting cheap,” a league executive said.

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Tags: Dan Gilbert David Stern Donald Sterling James Dolan Jerry Buss Mark Cuban Michael Jordan Micky Arison Mikhail Prokhorov NBA Lockout Paul Allen Stephon Marbury The Maloofs

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