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For the free market system in the NBA

Peter Schanzer | Friday, February 25, 2011

On Wednesday, Rick Reilly wrote an article for ESPN about the recent trade of Carmelo Anthony from Denver to New York, criticizing Melo essentially for leaving Denver for New York to play with his buddies — the same criticism that Lebron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh received last summer. Reilly whined that superstar players shouldn’t be allowed to leave cities like Denver for cities like New York, calling it unfair. The assessment of “unfair” relies on the underlying assumption that there should be parity among the teams because franchises like Denver will fold if there’s not.

Why is that underlying assumption a good one?

It’s not. I’m no economics major, but the ideas of revenue sharing and protecting the weak for the sake of equality effectively make the league socialist. A parity-based league is not necessarily a bad thing, as can be seen with the NFL. The EPL and NCAA, however, prove that a league can be successful without parity. Neither system is necessarily better. What I take issue with is fans’ sense of entitlement to superstars that are only there in the first place because of league rules designed to promote parity. I believe the draft should be the only parity-encouraging system in place. After that, franchises should exist on their own. In free agency, if an athlete is content with his compensation, he should play where he wants. And if Denver fans aren’t content with their basketball team, they should follow someone else. And if the Denver franchise needs revenue sharing and equity-promoting rules to survive, they shouldn’t exist in the first place. This is how capitalism and the free market system work (does Rick Reilly hate America? I don’t know). At least with social programs like welfare and social security, there is an aspect of humanity and morality that can somewhat justify their existence. But if basketball teams in Denver, Cleveland and elsewhere contribute only to the malcontent of their athletes, what’s the point? Rick Reilly isn’t entitled to have a local team to root for, much less a top five player on that team. Nobody is. Stop complaining.

Peter Schanzer



Feb. 23