SBD/November 12, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
NFL Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson yesterday said that he has “no intention to move the team to Los Angeles -- or anywhere else,” according to Green & Person of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Amid reports that California political officials “have been courting Richardson in the hopes of bringing the team to Los Angeles, Richardson issued a statement Sunday saying his desire to have a team in the Carolinas has not changed.” Some of the discussions between L.A. officials and Richardson “occurred during the Democratic National Convention, including a conversation with Los Angeles Mayor and DNC Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/12). ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the California officials have had "no luck to date" with their talks. Richardson has "been polite and steadfast that he is committed to Charlotte and he isn’t moving the Panthers anywhere." The "only scenario in which he would listen would be if Charlotte balked at helping him with some of the stadium renovations the Panthers have been seeking." The Panthers are one of four teams that "own their own stadium and don't have to break any leases to move." ESPN's Chris Berman said, "Not surprising. He's from that area, and you wouldn't think so" (“Sunday NFL Countdown,” ESPN, 11/11).
EASY TARGET: In L.A., Sam Farmer wrote the talk of a possible move is “a telegraphed pass.” The way for teams to “fire a shot over the bow of their home cities is to bring up L.A. -- or have it brought up for them.” It is “no accident that in his statement Richardson doesn't completely rule out the possibility of leaving.” Richardson is “close friends with Patrick Soon-Shiong, the L.A. billionaire who is interested in buying AEG and being an owner of an NFL team." Farmer: "So it's not inconceivable for Soon-Shiong, who needs Richardson to pave the way for him with the NFL, to do the Panthers owner a solid by nudging an L.A. politician to gin up interest in Carolina’s team, even if there are other franchises far more likely to relocate” (LATIMES.com, 11/11). SI.com's Peter King writes when Richardson "issues a statement saying he is devoted to the Carolinas without saying he categorically wouldn't move to Los Angeles, you know it's a leverage play to get public money to rehab his stadium" (SI.com, 11/12).
Former Knicks and Suns coach Mike D'Antoni, "not Phil Jackson, will be the next coach of the Lakers," according to Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. TIMES. Lakers VP/PR John Black said, "We signed Mike D'Antoni to a multi-year deal." Black said Owner Jerry Buss, Exec VP/Player Personnel Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak "were unanimous that Mike D'Antoni was the best coach for the team at this time." The Lakers, who fired coach Mike Brown on Friday, will "introduce their new coach at a news conference as early as Tuesday but more likely later in the week." A source said that Jackson was the "overwhelming favorite to return to the Lakers until they heard his informal demands, which included a stake in team ownership." The source said, "He was asking for the moon" (L.A. TIMES, 11/12). ESPN.com's Shelburne & Stein write the Lakers' decision to hire D'Antoni was "wholly unexpected." Sources said that the Lakers "ultimately couldn't stomach Jackson's contract demands to return, which were believed to include a salary ranging from $10 to $15 million annually, significant say in personnel decisions as well as his eventual replacement along with the ability for the 67-year-old to skip selected road games." A source said that Jackson was "stunned" when the Lakers called to inform him they had chosen D'Antoni. Jackson had been "prepared to accept the job Monday if negotiations between his agent and the Lakers went well." Jackson's agent Todd Musberger "had been scheduled to fly in to Los Angeles on Monday" (ESPN.com, 11/12).
CONTROL ISSUES: NBA.com's David Aldridge wrote on his Twitter feed, "Phil wanted total control and say over the direction of any franchise he went to, a la Riley/Miami" (TWITTER.com, 11/12). CBSSPORTS.com's Matt Moore writes Jackson's demands were the price Jim Buss "would have to pay to clean up the mess he made when he pushed Jackson out and instilled his own regime which failed like some bad puppet government." But to "surrender to these demands would mean admitting defeat, and it would be giving control of the franchise to someone else." Moore: "That wasn't going to happen" (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/12). FOXSPORTS.com's Billy Witz writes if Jackson's deal "fell apart because the Lakers would not meet Jackson's demands, be it more money or more authority in personnel matters, then both sides screwed this up" (FOXSPORTS.com, 11/12). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes Jackson is the Lakers' "In-Case-of-Emergency-Break-Glass legend." It would have been Jackson's "third tour with the Lakers, an amazing workplace accomplishment for any coach not hired by George Steinbrenner" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/12). Lakers fans again chanted "We Want Phil!" at Staples Center during last night's game against the Kings (L.A. TIMES, 11/12). ESPN's Chris Broussard: "Lakers know they will take PR hit for choosing D'Antoni over Phil" (TWITTER.com, 11/12).
THE WHEELS ON THE BUSS...: The L.A. TIMES' Bresnahan noted the decision to fire Brown after five games was "reached mutually by the three most important people atop their franchise." But a source said, "Make no mistake, (Jerry) Buss is the ultimate decision-maker" (L.A.TIMES, 11/10). In Newark, Dave D'Alessandro wrote Jim Buss in firing Brown "showed all the foresight of Mr. Magoo." D'Alessandro: "We don’t know Jim Buss. But some peers believe that he is what the media portray him to be: the self-aggrandizing, solipsistic, careless rich kid in a baseball cap who never should have gotten the job over his much smarter sister." While Jerry Buss was "a visionary who handled the big decisions ... the son has succeeded only in making everyone in the organization despise him" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/10). In L.A., Eric Pincus wrote Jerry Buss has "built a legacy on making the right plays, relying often on gut instinct above all." His track record "individually is rivaled only by late-Boston Celtics legend Red Auerbach" (LATIMES.com, 11/11).
BROADCAST NEWS: The AP's Tim Dahlberg wrote Brown was "given the hook so quickly it's fair to speculate that perhaps there was some corporate pressure coming" from Time Warner Cable, which "paid some $3 billion for a 20-year deal to broadcast the Lakers" (AP, 11/10). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth asked, "How much of the Lakers pulling the plug on Mike Brown was connected to the panic surge created by DirecTV's resistance to sign up with the new Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Deportes?" Frustration has been "building, building and building from DirecTV subscribers, and they're more and more inclined to lay blame on the Lakers for creating this messy situation and taking gobs of money from TWC for their own edification without all the due diligence needed to make sure everyone would be on board" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/11).
The Ducks are taking the time provided by the cancelled opening of the NHL season to rebuild a local school playground, and build some good will. Ducks staff, corporate sponsors, season-ticket holders and former players are scheduled to team today for a beautification project at Mattie Lou Maxwell Elementary School in Anaheim. The work is slated to include the installation of a street hockey rink on the school playground, and planting trees and raised gardens. New campus murals, in the Ducks’ colors, are being added as well, featuring the school’s motto: “Respectful, Responsible, Safe & Kind.” The program is part of the Ducks’ Power PLAY community initiative, which promotes youth hockey and recreation in schools. The estimated $90,000 cost of the project is being funded by the franchise, which is owned by Henry and Susan Samueli. It will be unveiled to students tomorrow when they return to school after having today off for the Veterans Day holiday. “Our owners are very philanthropic, and school funding is so reduced right now,” said Ducks VP & CMO Aaron Teats. “During the work stoppage, we’re able to dedicate resources and time to a project that we normally wouldn’t be able to during the hectic pace of the NHL schedule. We wanted to come up with a project to engage everyone -- not just our staff, but our fans and corporate partners.” Among the team sponsors involved in the playground initiative are Pepsi and Pinnacle Landscaping, which also works on the grounds of the team’s Honda Center arena. Civic partners include Enrich L.A. and Anaheim Beautiful. Mattie Lou Maxwell Elementary is a participant in the Ducks’ S.C.O.R.E. (Scholastic Curriculum of Recreation and Education) program, which aims to enrich the education of students. The initiative has provided 18,000 sets of school supplies and includes a street hockey physical education program with Ducks branding. “The beautification project and new street hockey rink adds a new level of pride to our campus,” said school Principal Marcy Chant. “This is a wonderful gift for our community.”
The N.Y. TIMES MAGAZINE's Sam Anderson in a cover story feature wrote, “One of the miracles of the modern Thunder … is how quickly they’ve made people forget the stain of their origin.” The re-branding of the franchise after its move from Seattle to Oklahoma City has been “quick and efficient: the team is now widely perceived as principled, well run and -- above all -- thoroughly Oklahoman." ESPN recently named it the No. 1 sports franchise in America, and "much of the credit for this turnaround" goes to GM Sam Presti. He overhauled "not only the roster of the team but also the culture of the organization.” Anderson: “This involved rethinking everything, no matter how small, from meeting times to media policy to the decorations on the practice-facility walls. Everyone soon became familiar with the Presti buzzwords: process, system, patience, sustainability.” Presti made “a habit of promoting people within the organization so that, from top to bottom, the Thunder became very young and tightly knit.” He “devoted extra resources to the development of the young Thunder players and, on the marketing side, refused to call attention to any single player apart from his teammates.” He also “stressed community outreach to an unusual degree" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/11).
RAZING ARIZONA? In Phoenix, Sonu Munshi noted there will be a political shift in Glendale when “four new elected leaders are seated on the City Council.” The new council members, part of a new majority, are “expected to take a more skeptical stance on a Phoenix Coyotes deal.” Glendale Mayor-elect Jerry Weiers “used his victory speech to send a message to sports teams, namely the Coyotes.” Weiers said, “Glendale is not your cash register." However, Munshi noted, "Two months remain before Weiers and the others are sworn into office." The current majority "could still secure a deal to keep the hockey franchise at the city-owned arena this month” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/10).
START SPREADING THE NEWS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Daniel Barbarisi wrote of the Yankees’ plans to reduce payroll to less than $189M by '14, “That is the new normal for the Yankees, who are suddenly learning to live like everyone else -- with limits." After years of payrolls in the $210M range, Yankees Managing General Partner & co-Chair Hal Steinbrenner "has mandated that the team cut payroll … to take advantage of tens of millions of savings in baseball's new labor deal.” The Yankees “still spend, but they're no longer the team that goes after the biggest and best.” Still, "depending on how the offseason shakes out, the Yankees might not have the highest payroll in baseball in 2013, the first time since 1998” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/10).