The always dependable Henry Abbott has a decidedly anti-"the sky is falling" &l..."/> The always dependable Henry Abbott has a decidedly anti-"the sky is falling" &l..."/> The always dependable Henry Abbott has a decidedly anti-"the sky is falling" &l..."/>

Is Olympiakos the Xbox or Playstation?


The always dependable Henry Abbott has a decidedly anti-“the sky is falling” take on the Josh Childress deal. His point, and I agree, is that David Stern and the NBA has needed a kick in the pants for awhile now. Up until now, the league has had an essential monopoly on basketball in the states, something that the American government has tried to prevent from happening in as many industries as possible. But you can’t force a league to split up it’s teams the way you can with Microsoft’s sub-divisions, so sports have largely received a free pass. Having fewer outlets tugging at you in some ways makes it easier for the fan to follow a pool of teams, but it also meant the NBA had little reason to change without financial urges from the Players Union.

Now that the league has lost an American-born player of substance to Greece, they suddenly have a competitor for talent. For people set in their ways, competition can be scary, because it means change. And when you change, you either get better or worse, you can’t stay exactly the same. The Childress move might force the league to adapt after this little dose of fear, and while the changes ahead might be worrisome, none of us that have complained about the way the league functions can complain about Josh’s bold move.

The younger generations have a very clear example of the benefits of competition staring them in the face everyday — the console wars. For a long time, it was Nintendo’s battleground. The NES wiped out Atari in the 80’s and was followed by the very successful SNES. Sega tried to compete with the Genesis, but couldn’t quite keep up. Still, Nintendo pushed the envelope, trying to create 3d graphics on a 2d system. With a large share of the market, the Japanese company had little to worry about — until the mid-90’s and the Playstation. Sony came about with a number of new, more grown up IP’s for their fully 3d console and Nintendo, failing to change their family-friendly philosophies slowly lost nearly all of their third-party developers by the time the Gamecube and PS2 rolled around.

Nintendo wasn’t losing money, mind you, because they were a very efficient business, but they were no longer the console giant they used to be. Sony was king. Meanwhile, Microsoft cuts in on everything with the XBOX and is now, after Sony failed to step up and offer any sort of innovation, stealing everything from Sony that it stole from Nintendo with the XBOX360. Now, Nintendo eventually carved out its own market with the highly innovative Wii and the PS3 is losing out to the XBOX360. The point of that exercise in history was that the console that didn’t change, always lost. So Olympiakos (and the Euro league) could either be like the Playstation and steal some of the spotlight for awhile until someone gets their act together, or it could be like the XBOX and push aside the stale competition while the NBA becomes a niche, Wii-like market on the global scene.

In his piece, Abbott outlines the main things that have gone unchallenged simply because there has been no realistic challengers. The “boys club” in particular has always gotten on my nerves, as the recycling of GM’s and coaches keeps a number of teams in the hell of mediocrity. But recently teams like the Saints (Sean Payton), Cowboys (Jason Garret) and Blazers (Kevin Pritchard) have taken risks on relative unknows and reaped the rewards — so at least the team I care most about figured things out. The rules and Collective Bargaining Agreement can, and will change as they always have, though I can’t see many alterations to the superstar system.

Since there’s still plenty of factors working in favor of the NBA. It’s not like the Euroleagues are going to be taking over ESPN anytime soon. Childress’ move is just a little reminder that the NBA is not the only fish in the pond, and if they don’t want it to happen again, they better listen. Fans won’t want it to happen again either, but this time, even though it’s scary, they should be thankful.