Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pre-Grading the Bucks Draft

The NBA draft may be over a month away, but that doesn't stop yours truly from pre-emptively grading the Bucks's draft.

We know a few things about the Bucks entering the draft, but there are also things we don't know. We know that they stunk last season, but that they had a lot of injuries. We know the Greek Freak and Brandon Knight appear to be the current choices as franchise cornerstones, but we don't know how management feels about last year's franchise cornerstone, Larry Sanders. We know that new owners Edens (who shall always have his name listed first on #BucksForest due to having a hot daughter) and Lasry want to build a winning culture, but we don't know how willing they are to spend money on players. All of those unknowns are in addition to the unknown status of veterans like Big Ers and Juice Mayo.

Perhaps the biggest Known of the draft is that the Bucks need to maximize this draft.  Safe plays are as risky as aggressive plays.  If they just draft a guy at number two, then he'd better be closer to Kevin Durant than to Derrick Williams.  

Also to be considered is the fact that the top prospects are making it clear that they don't want to play for the Bucks.  Rumors are particularly strong that Joel Embiid, a man who has shown up on the Bucks' line in multiple mock drafts, wants to avoid Milwaukee at all costs.  Yours truly is of the opinion that drafting players who don't want to be there is ultimately a bad idea.  

With all of that having been said, here then, are the A through F scenarios for the Bucks draft:

Grade F

Bucks select anyone besides Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart and Dante Exum at No. 2.

This is a deep draft, and many players could be great pros. Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon, for example, could become stars. They are also players who fit the Bucks, a team that is short on interior toughness and athleticism. The problem is value. Randle and Gordon can be had later in the draft. Even if either man rises to the fourth or fifth slot on the experts' draft boards, those are still picks with far less value than No. 2.

If the Bucks fall in love with a player who is not in the Fabulous Five, it is fine if they draft that player. Yours truly is a big believer that fit is an undervalued trait. If they are drafting a non-top five player, however, it should not be at No. 2. In a draft like this, and with a roster like the one the Bucks have, they need to maximize value.

***

Grade D

Bucks select Marcus Smart, Dante Exum or Jabari Parker at No. 2.

Yours truly loves Marcus Smart. He has a feel for the game. He is strong. He has superb hands. He hates to lose. He is the lone member of the Fabulous Five who doesn't have rumors swirling around him about a distaste for playing in Milwaukee. No player would bring as wide a smile to my face when he pulls on a Bucks hat as Marcus Smart. But he is not ranked in the top two. Neither is Exum and neither is Parker.

Exum and Parker are not far from being rated second, so either man's selection would bring the Bucks's draft above an "F" grade. Again, however, this draft is one where the Bucks need to maximize value. That means drafting a top two player at No. 2 or trading down.

In addition to lacking the value of a top-two prospect, Smart, Exum and Parker also come with too much risk. Smart may never learn to overcome the lack of elite quickness in his first step. Exum never played NCAA basketball (which, for all its warts, does provide the toughest competition against people his age). Parker might not be a great enough athlete. None of those worries may come to fruition, but it's too much for No. 2.

***

Grade C

Bucks select Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins at No 2.

Younger readers may not recognize "C" as a passing grade. It is. C is average. You take the top and bottom 10% for As and Fs. The next 20% on each end get Bs and Ds. Then that juicy middle 40% are the Cs. The average drafts. The John Henson drafts. Better than Joe Alexander, but not quite Brandon Jennings.

When you pick at No. 2 in a two-player draft ("two-player draft" in this case meaning "two players who are rated a level above every other prospect"), an average draft is getting a top-two player. Earning a C should mean that a team was solid, but unexceptional. That's Embiid or Wiggins. Both players are on the path toward regular All-Star selections. Both players are athletic freaks. Both players are fluid in their basketball movements.

Yours truly is actually cool on Embiid, but yours truly is also not a scout or general manager. If Embiid falls to No. 2, then he is a higher value selection than Exum, Parker or Smart.

Wiggins looks like a future superstar, but it is always hard to tell how young players will pan out. Claims that a college player has "high character" or "works hard" are always the most laughable. Nobody in college (whether they play basketball or not) ever has their work ethic or character truly tested. It is only once someone is out in the professional world that those things can be shown.

***

Grade B

Bucks trade No. 2 for a top player and something else.

To rise above an average draft, a team has to exceed expectations. Picking at No. 2 and getting a top-two prospect is not enough. That's a C. To get a B or better, something out of the ordinary must happen.

One possible trade partner is Philadelphia. It seems clear that Wiggins is their man. The Sixers's affection for Wiggins has been rumored about all season. Once the draft order was finalized, online chatter began appearing about Philly being disappointed that Wiggins could be gone. Cleveland holds power over the Bucks because they can deal Wiggins to Philadelphia. An offer of Wiggins for the 3rd and 10th picks might make the Sixers bite. Cleveland can make that offer before the Bucks can. The good news, however, is that Cleveland needs a center and a playoff run in 2015. Neither of those things is made more likely by missing out on Embiid and Wiggins. If the Bucks get No. 3 and No. 10, then a Jabari Parker/Nik Stauskas wing pair could help their scoring problems. Or a Dante Exum/Dario Saric draft could be a nice small/big combo.

If the Sixers aren't an option, the Bucks could ask the Jazz (who reportedly want Parker) for the fifth pick and Gordon Hayward (assuming he's amenable to a contract extension). Marcus Smart would be available at No. 5. The Kings (whose owner is tired of being in the lottery) might be willing to part with the eighth pick, Jason Thompson and Isaiah Thomas (who would also need a contract extension), and Smart could be there at No. 8.

As long as the Bucks get one of the Fabulous Five prospects and an additional contributor, their draft grade rises to a B. The team has more than one hole in its rotation, and this deep draft can draw more than one rotation player.

***

Grade A

Bucks acquire two of the top five players in the draft by trading the Greek Freak.

Giannis loves Milwaukee and Milwaukee loves Giannis. That is great. Unfortunately, love doesn't come with a quick release on its jump shot. Or good hands. Or an elite first step. Or a superstar's awareness.

Giannis Antetokounmpo's stock in the eyes of yours truly has been in steady decline for about six months now. Before the 2014 season and in the first few weeks, it was all excitement. Then he would get blocked on shots at the rim. And he couldn't get by anyone. And his trigger was slow on kickouts. And he kept getting passes deflected. In short, he kept doing things that elite athletes don't do. He's not a freak. He may have huge hands and long arms, but he doesn't have fast hands or quick feet.

The Bucks can take advantage of the perception of Giannis. He had two good games against the Lakers. Good games against Boston, Orlando and Philly. One of those teams might give the Bucks their pick for the Greek Freak.

Imagine some of the scenarios that could happen. The Bucks could pair Wiggins with Randle. Or Embiid with Smart. Or Exum with Parker and Stauskus. The players that the Bucks are relying on for rebuilding could all enter the league together, learn together and hopefully win together.

Trading the Grecian Formula would tick off many online Bucks fans. It would tick off some real Bucks fans, too. Some people see him as another Kevin Durant. (That one is ludicrous.) Larry Drew said that he saw flashes of Magic Johnson. (That was my initial impression.) Maybe he's another Dirk. For a franchise that already has difficulty generating local excitement, trading a likable young player like Giannis would be difficult.

The problem is that Giannis could be Darius Miles. He could be a guy who gives effort, but who never quite rises above being a solid rotation hand who thrives in the open court.

Yours truly realizes that the Bucks almost certainly aren't trading Giannis. There is something to be said for that. Most successful teams grow together. Turning over players all the time was a big reason why Herb Kohl's tenure saw so much losing. At this stage, however, the Bucks are all about maximizing value. They have an overvalued youngster who some team might take in exchange for a better prospect. Those are the types of moves Grade A franchises make.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Bucks, and the Bucks Alone

The quest for a new Bucks arena has been ongoing for about a decade now, but things seem to be coming to a head.  Non-local owners are officially in charge.  The former owner, a local, has threatened a move.  Three of the five surrounding counties that participate in the Miller Park sales tax have passed (ultimately meaningless) resolutions prohibiting tax money from being used for a new arena.  Milwaukee politicians are on record saying that they will only support tax money for a new arena if the surrounding counties participate.  In short, the team wants about $14 million per year (that's what $220 million costs over 30 years if interest rates on government construction bonds stay at 4.9%) in tax money, nobody wants to give it to them and the NBA is just fine with the team re-locating in three years.

In response to this dire situation, many Bucks supporters and others have tried to tie a new Bucks arena to a broader overhaul of the city.  Some people want money for parks.  The latest proposal is for improvements to the convention center.

There are a few things that the proponents of these larger cultural proposals have in common: none of them want to pay for it and they all are trying to grab more power.  The Wisconsin Center District wants to bring a new arena under their auspices, thus boosting an increasingly irrelevant organization.    A couple of County Board members want money for the transit system, which is managed by the County Board.

The Milwaukee area may well benefit from increased public funding for parks, transit and hospitality (though I'd expect an opposite result), but that's a distraction.  The focus, at least for Bucks fans, should be on the Bucks.  When Bucks supporters try to tie a new arena to larger projects, it's transparent.  It's also counter-productive.  Instead of asking for $14 million per year from the public, the price balloons to up to $86 million per year.  The Miller Park sales tax can more than cover $14 million.  It comes nowhere close to $86 million.

Conventional wisdom is that the Bucks will secure their future in Milwaukee if they get a new arena, but that is not necessarily true.  Indianapolis paid the majority of the cost when the Pacers built what some consider one of the best arenas in the NBA.  After eleven seasons, the team told the city that it would move if the city didn't start paying over $10 million per year in arena operating costs.  (The Pacers hold the lease on the arena; typically leaseholders pay operating costs.)  Now, even with the team in the conference finals, the city of Indianapolis is paying $16 million per year to keep the team because the Indianapolis area's economy can't support high NBA ticket prices.  (For example, the entire upper deck is only $19 (first ten rows) or $12 per ticket for full seasons.)  The could happen to Milwaukee if the economy doesn't improve.

Yours truly worries that a broad public subsidy will dampen economic growth.  Paying millions of dollars to the Bucks owners theoretically helps the economy.  The excitement of NBA basketball could help stop the brain drain from the city and state.  A winning team could cause locals to spend extra money that otherwise wouldn't have been spent (on tickets, at sports bars, at retail locations, etc.), thus stimulating productivity.  (Some people believe that the substitution effect applies to the local economies that surround NBA teams, but I don't.)  Public parks, transit and a convention center -- for the most part --  don't.  A great parks and transit system are nice to have, but ultimately productive people tend to live in metropolitan areas where there are lots of jobs, low taxes, cheap housing and the right kind of culture.  (In other words, central air conditioning is not the main reason that Dallas -- a city that was less populated than Milwaukee in 1960 --  now doubles Milwaukee's population.)  An increase in sales or property taxes to fund parks, transit and a convention center will likely only make it less likely that jobs-producing businesses will start up in or re-locate to the city.  Long term, that would hurt the Bucks.

The talk about the Bucks' future needs a change in focus.  Instead of it being about the community, it needs to be about the Bucks and their fans.  Asking season ticket holders to contribute one season's cost towards SBLs (Stadium Builder's Licenses - formerly known as Personal Seat Licenses, or PSLs) could raise about $15 million.  A five dollar per ticket tax on all arena events could raise about $7.5 million per year (which would pay off about $118 million of the construction bonds).  If Lasry and Edens are serious about their $100 million contribution, that money and Kohl's $100 million adds up to $333 million.  That's probably enough money to build a state-of-the-art arena for a small major league market, especially if the arena is built to what Bucks fans can support.  (#BucksForest believes this to be a 16,013 capacity [to honor Big Dog] with 29 luxury suites [the number of years Kohl owned the team] and 1,183 sideline club seats [the number of games played by another great Bucks player].  Even if an additional $90 million is needed to hit that $420 million target, that works out to only about $5.7 million per year more.

In a sense, Bucks fans are correct that the Bucks are tied to the community.  But the Bucks are the cart, not the horse.  The Bucks are not vital to the community's economy.  The economic growth of the community is vital to the Bucks.  A broad tax increase to an area already overburdened by taxes is too risky.  A targeted tax increase for the specific purpose of building a new NBA arena is better.  Let's make this fight about the Bucks, and the Bucks alone. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Look East, Stadium Advocates

In September of 2017, the Southwest Airlines Center will open just north of the Fortress on Fourth.  It will be a modern structure of steel and glass.  Inside will sit a 16,500 seat basketball arena (12,000 unobstructed hockey seats, for you Admirals fans).  There will be fewer luxury suites than any arena in the NBA.  There will be fewer Sideline Club seats than for any basketball or hockey arena built in the decade prior.  It will have an inside/outside sports bar that is open year-round.  It will have a towering entrance atrium designed as a meeting and shopping area before events.

The vision of a replacement for the BMO Harris Bradley Center is not yet assured.  Suburban areas appear to be against offering the new Bucks owners, Wes Edens and Marc Lasry, any tax money.  Milwaukee politicians have stated that local taxes are off limits unless the suburban counties contribute.  State politicians could bridge much of the funding gap by extending the Miller Park sales tax.  There has been no movement towards a Miller Park sales tax extension in Madison.

So, what now?  Reports are that Bucks arena proponents (and please, let's admit that it is an arena for the Bucks; Marquette and the Admirals would rather stay where they are) are looking west.  Oklahoma City has a tax-funded arena built as part of a larger city development project.  Sacramento has a similarly priced arena about to be built with a similar contribution split ($222 million from the city; $225 million from the team, in that case).  

Oklahoma City and Sacramento got arenas built, but those projects are much different from Milwaukee's.  In both cases, there was no NBA-sized downtown arena already there.  The city of Sacramento can justify giving over $200 million in tax money to the Kings' owner because they are tearing down something worthless (a dead downtown shopping mall) to build something worthwhile. Sacramento's NBA team can say to Sacramento that the arena activity will be new.  New evening parking, new patronage of bars & restaurants and possibly new development of residential real estate.  Milwaukee's NBA team cannot plausibly say those things.  The Bucks' owners want a new arena in the same spot as the current arena.  Will there be more people parking?  Or more restaurant goers?  Or more apartments and condos?  Doubtful.  If Milwaukeeans wanted to live near an NBA arena, they could do that now.  They could've done it for the past ten years.  

Promoters of the Sacramento model might argue that Sacramento's new economic activity downtown is analogous to the amount of downtown economic activity that will be lost if the Bucks move.  Balderdash.  Downtown Sacramento is getting UFC shows, concerts, Disney on Ice and everything else that used to be out near the airport where Sleep Train Arena sits.  Downtown Milwaukee isn't losing any of those ancillary events if the Bucks move.  WWE still needs to run Monday Night Raw in new cities every week.  The NCAA still needs 19,000 seats in a mid-major market for its basketball and hockey tournaments.  Downtown Milwaukee would lose forty-three NBA dates.  That's it.  Is that worth $14.2 million per year (which is what it would cost to pay off a $220 million public contribution) in debt service on a new arena?  

There is a sports stadium project analogous to what the Bucks are trying to do, but it is east, not west.  It is in Cobb County, Georgia.  The Atlanta Braves are moving to Cobb County in 2017.  They will play in a stadium that is receiving $302 million in local tax money.  Games played by the sports team are the only new events expected to be generated by the new facility and there is no money coming from surrounding counties.  There are differences between what the Braves did and what the Bucks are trying to do.  The Braves play at home 82 times per year, while the Bucks play 43 times per year.  Most NBA arenas draw more per-capita ancillary spending in the area surrounding the arena than MLB stadiums do.  Still, it's one team and one local area.  That's similar to the Bucks.

The Braves' funding mechanism is a public/private partnership.  The Braves are paying 55% and Cobb County is paying 45%.  (The Bucks want something closer to 55% in tax money.)  Cobb County's contribution comes in part from hotel taxes and a rental car tax.  (Both may be politically viable because local residents often see those taxes as "not coming from us".)  Another portion is paid by an extension of a local property tax for parks that was set to expire in 2018.  (This may be where a Miller Park tax extension fits in.)  The final public contribution is local businesses and apartment building owners agreeing to have their own property taxed at a higher rate.  (If Milwaukee business leaders are actually as excited about a new arena as they say they are, an increase in Downtown property and sales taxes should be no problem.)  All of that seems reasonable and replicable in Milwaukee.

The Miller Park tax should be the hot topic for a new Bucks arena.  If the tax captures what it did in 2012 ($25.8 million), a public contribution of $220 million towards a new Bucks arena could be paid off within twelve years (assuming interest rates for government construction bonds are still around 4.9% at the time construction begins).  Even if the Miller Park tax could be extended for five years, half of the estimated public contribution ($110 million) towards construction bonds could be paid for.  $7 million per year would still have to come from some kind of other local tax.

If Milwaukee business leaders are as excited as they claim to be about a new Bucks arena, then they should show it.  Make a firm commitment.  Tell state politicians that if the Miller Park sales tax can just be extended for another five years, businesses will support increased commercial property and sales taxes in the downtown area.  If property values and retail sales in downtown Milwaukee rise significantly once the arena is built, then great.  Rates could be brought down to current levels.  But a promise should be made.  Otherwise it will continue to look like Milwaukee business leaders are only getting excited because they're anticipating a new arena to be built with other people's money.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Notes From a Clippers Fan

The Milwaukee Bucks have been my favorite basketball team since 1990.  I remember the date vividly; it was December 30.  The Bucks were undefeated at home and they were facing the defending Western Conference Champion Portland Trailblazers (owners of the best record in the NBA).  I went with a 13 year-old Teig Whaley-Smith (now Milwaukee County Economic Development Director) and we sat in the top row at center court.  The Bucks hit a ton of threes (maybe a record at the time?) and won.  The Pistons were still the favorites to face the Blazers in the Finals at the time (though neither of them ended up making it), but the energy of that team and that crowd made anything seem possible.

I was thirteen years old on December 30, 1990 and I had been watching basketball for many years before that.  The Bucks were not always my favorite team.  That night clinched my devotion to them.  Before that night, my team was the Lakers.  I was born in California and lived there until I was two years old.  I always supported USC, the Lakers and the Rams (glamor) along with the Warriors and the A's (born in the East Bay) and even UCLA (to think!) because of that.

In August, 1995 I moved to Los Angeles to attend USC.  I knew that the Clippers played a few blocks away at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.  Both the Clippers and Bucks were down in the mid-90's, but I began rooting for L.A.'s other NBA team.  I liked being able to walk to games.  I liked being able to afford tickets.  (In fact, I remember going to see the 1997 Bulls team at the Sports Arena with a sophomore year roommate who was so dedicated to Michael Jordan that he refused to shave his head for the entirety of MJ's first retirement.)  I loved Bill Walton on commentary and the dedication of long-suffering Clippers season ticket holders like my first screenwriting mentor, Barry Blaustein.

The Bucks have remained my favorite NBA team since December 30, 1990, but for nearly twenty years the Clippers have been my other team.  They've been the local team.  I can attend their games more regularly and chat with friends about them without needing my iPhone to do it.

For the past week the Clippers have been embroiled in controversy.  It has made me less of a Clippers fan.  Of course it has to do with Donald Sterling, but to me it's the reaction to Donald Sterling that is turning me off.

Here are some things to know about Donald Sterling: He won the Elgin Baylor discrimination suit completely.  His settlement with the Justice Department over housing discrimination specifically included both parties acknowledging that Sterling was not guilty.  He has always made it a point to hire women and non-whites, and promote them.  His NBA team has always embraced drawing a multi-ethnic, multi-gender live audience.  He had hallucinogenic advocate Bill Walton as the team's color commentator for a dozen years and the deeply religious, Latter Day Saints member Michael Smith as in the same role for the last dozen.  In short, he embraces diversity.  He wants the whole world to love him and his team.

Donald Sterling has major flaws.  He can be cheap with people who work for him.  He loathes long-term contracts.  He has an appetite for non-age appropriate women.  His speech can be blunt and offensive when his blood is up.  He believes that he should be above the law if he's just following the way the world works.  That last flaw did him in.

The TMZ controversy (and a huge congratulations to fellow wrestling fan Ryan Satin, who was managing the site on the weekend this story exploded) was a precise example of Sterling's fatal flaw.  In the original audio posted on TMZ, Sterling asks his girlfriend to stop posting pictures on Instagram because "they call me".  Who calls him?  That question has not been asked or answered.  My guess is "they" are friends of his.  And my guess is that his friends call him with racist and offensive comments about his girlfriend's relationships with black men.  And he doesn't like that.  He wants it to stop.  What he should've done is tell his friends to stop teasing him about his girlfriend's relationships with black men.  He should've told his friends that it was racist and offensive.  But Donald Sterling believes that he knows the way the world works.  He believed that the practical thing to do was to tell his girlfriend to stop posting pictures with black men because his friends are never going to change.  Sterling was wrong.  The comments were uncouth.

The racial discrimination lawsuit against Sterling was another case of Sterling believing that the world works a certain way.  He believed that Korean apartment tenants didn't like sharing a building with black or Latino people.  He believes that Koreans would pay higher rents to avoid living in the same buildings as black or Latino people.  What he should have done, and what the law says he should do, is tell tenants or all races that it's a public building and that it probably won't end up having 100% Korean tenancy.  But Sterling believed that the practical thing to do was to try to keep his buildings free of black and Latino tenants.  He believed that Koreans are always going to prefer a Korean-only apartment building.  Again, Sterling was wrong.

In some ways the TMZ controversy offered nothing new about Sterling.  We knew that his speech could be blunt and offensive, like the Jack Woltz studio head character from THE GODFATHER.  We knew that he believes that the world works a certain way, and that he just follows the world.  We knew that he loves being admired and loved by people, especially young women.  I didn't find the audio shocking.  I did find the reaction to the audio shocking.  It seems clear that the woman was trying to set him up, but few people seem to be acknowledging that.  It seems clear that his personal view is that he loves being around a diverse crowd, but almost nobody has focused on that part.  It seems clear that his objection to his girlfriend posing for pictures with black men stems from what "they" say to him when they "call".  Sterling didn't handle that topic in the right way, but the reaction to what he actually said was over the top.

The world of the NBA is now engulfed in a mob mentality.  Everyone hates Sterling.  Fans, players, rank-and-file workers and even his fellow owners have joined the mob.  Some of the hate is surely opportunism.  People wanted him out of the NBA and they see this as their big chance.  Some of the hate is just pop culture.  Sterling hate is on the news so people want to feel included.  And a small portion may even be honest disgust.  There may be some people who have followed Sterling's news stories for years, but now feel that Sterling's decision to chastise his girlfriend instead of the racially insensitive "they" who "call" is too much.

My Clippers fandom has waned since 2012.  After years of supporting the team here and there, I finally bought season tickets that year.  They had Blake and EG and Bledsoe and DJ and Aminu.  They had a core of young players who were fun to watch.  My excitement hit a peak when Chris Paul was acquired.  I loved him at Wake Forest.  In fact, he was the only player I would've been happy to see the Bucks draft instead of Bogut when they had the top pick.  Then I watched Paul play everyday.  He is a flopper.  He is dirty.  He berates his teammates.  I was telling fellow Clippers fans and my ticket rep that I wanted a Paul-for-Carmelo trade after the 2012 season.  I thought that Bledsoe/Carmelo/Blake was a great foundation.  Instead the team acquired a bully (Barnes), a choker (Redick) and a Bruin (Collison).  I canceled my season subscription a month ago.

Maybe since I already dislike this Clippers team, my opinion matters less, but I thought the Clippers players' reaction to the Sterling controversy showed a lack of character.  By all accounts he treated the current players well.  He never made racially charged comments to them or treated them or their families differently based on their race.  He built a fantastic practice facility and signed players that the core group wanted to play with, despite having yearly revenues that are nearly as low as the Bucks'.  In short, he was good to them.  His comments on the Deadspin audio to that effect were certainly insensitive.  He framed their employment as a gift; that Sterling was responsible for their wealth rather than the players' having earned it.  They have a right to be mad.  But this mad?  Offering no defense of the guy?  No, "let's hear his side"?  No, "maybe we should learn the context"? Not even a, "he's supported us, but..."?

I'm going to game 7.  I hope it will be the last Clippers game I attend as a season ticket holder.  I hope they lose to the Warriors and I hope almost-Buck Klay Thompson has a great game.  I expect to see a lot of black, but I'll be dressed in white.  I dislike Sterling's philandering and thriftiness and bullying, but I'm wearing white for him.  He was known to love parties where guests dress in white, so it will be my silent (at least, silent in the arena) sign of support.  I like that he kept the team in Los Angeles in spite of overtures from Orange County.  I like that he evolved over the years, and finally learned that top players were worth top money.  I like that he believes in handshakes deals.  And maybe this shouldn't matter, but I like his personal story.  In his era a lot of Jews felt the discrimination that he felt.  He was a great lawyer and couldn't get hired at a prestigious firm because he is a Jew.  My dad's side of the family is Jewish and some of them tell similar stories.  Sterling said, "Fuck you.  I'll open my own practice.  I'll cater to less wealthy clients.  I'll kick your ass in court.  I'll buy as many assets as I can that you can't take away from me.  Condos, apartments and the Clippers.  And I'll run them the way I want to."  Now the NBA is trying to take away his favorite asset.  Well, fuck the NBA.  Fuck the Clippers players, fuck Magic Johnson and fuck the other people who know him as a man, but have joined the mob anyway.  And I'll be the guy dressed in white if you want to say it right back to me.