Monday, October 02, 2006

Who Needs Fact-Checking?

The Memphis Commercial Appeal (yeah, it's a newspaper) reported on Sunday (see here) that a group led by former Duke basketball player Brian Davis was about to buy a majority stake in the Memphis Grizzlies. I thought that was weird enough. Brian Davis? Where's he get the money to buy a sports franchise? But the weirdest part of the story, to me, was this: "He's [Davis] reportedly interested in a cost-cutting direction that eliminates Griz president Jerry West's position." Seriously, you're going to can The Logo? The man who's won NBA Executive of the Year with two different franchises?

But then I read ESPN's story today, from the Associated Press (here). Turns out Davis isn't the only former Dukie in the group - Davis's former roommate Christian Laettner is part of the group. Davis and Laettner are evidently putting up $40 million of their own money. And according the the AP, Davis "said he wants president Jerry West and [head coach Mike] Fratello to stay with the Grizzlies. He added that he would like to sign West to a lifetime contract..."

Eliminate the position ... give the guy a lifetime contract. You say po-TA-to, I say squash. I know, I know, it's a fine line between getting rid of a guy and offering him a lifetime contract. Minor detail, really.

But the kicker to the AP story is that "Laettner is also interested in returning to the NBA to play for the Grizzlies". Um, Christian? You might want to rethink that. First of all, you haven't played since the 2004-05 season, when you came off the bench for the Miami Heat to average stellar numbers of 5.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. Second, you might want to think back to a couple of guys named Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Both of them made comebacks after investing in NBA teams. League rules mandated that they sell their shares before making their comebacks. And Jordan's didn't end so well. After giving up his role in the front office for the Wizards to return to the court, the Wiz management decided when he was done playing that he was done with the organization altogether.

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