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Tag: 2010

Six Upsides to NBA Free Agency

On the eve of one of what could be the most significant free agency period in the history of the National Basketball Association, I’d like to share a few observable upsides.

The downsides are easy.  Free agency connotes “hired gun,” disloyal mercenary and money-grubbing whore.  OK, that last one was over the top, but the point remains: free agency can make players seem as though they’re simply chasing cash and/or the opportunity to win a championship.

Disfavor toward free agency also comes from Association purists, who like to see the same franchise send the same squad to the court year after year.  Larry Bird was a Boston Celtic.  Isaiah Thomas was a Detroit Piston.  John Stockton and Karl Malone were the Utah Jazz franchise … until the Mailman chased a championship by bandwagoning with a Los Angeles Lakers team that was surprisingly felled – no, crushed – by the Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals.

I can’t get into restricted and unrestricted free agency, salary caps, salary matching or any of the other mind-numbing nuances of NBA roster-building.  I’ll simply add, as open season on the NBA class of 2003 begins, that free agency is not all bad.

Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors, LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat, 2003, 2010, NBA, National Basketball Association, free agents, free agency

Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade - NBA Class of 2003 - Foundation for Huge Free Agent Market in 2010

1. Renders jerseys obsolete and requires the purchase of new jerseys.  I would never purchase, nor wear, an NBA jersey – never going to happen.  That said, hundreds of thousands of people around the world would – and do.  Players changing teams means more jersey sales.  Result: Goodwills and garage sales become littered with instantly “retro” gear – yours on the cheap!  Allen Iverson Nuggest jersey, anyone!?

2. Renders video games obsolete and requires the purchase of new editions.  No one wants to create new rookie players, much less shuffle rosters through trading, releasing or signing players.  It’s far easier just to buy this year’s release – especially if there have been substantial changes across the Association.  Don’t care about current rosters?  Just want to jack up some 3s and throw down some dunks?  BANG!  NBA Live 2007 will set you back just $0.59 on eBay.

3. Takes fans one step deeper into the process.  Video games have done this to some degree by providing the opportunity to coach teams and build franchises.  The combination of enhanced mainstream and niche media attention and roster dynamism have given fans interested in the NBA a deeper look into the relationships and negotiations between owners, GMs, coaches, agents and players.  More awareness and transparency generally results in deeper loyalty.

4. Enhances the soap opera element.  Let’s face it – professional sports are, in part, simply soap operas for men.  Deny it if you wish, but you’re accepting blindness in doing so.  More movement means more story lines means more drama.  I know I’m curious where everyone will land – and how.  I’m also curious how the new chemistry wherever changes take place will develop.  I’m also curious about the balance of power – where and how it’ll shift.  I also watch reality television – what can I say?

5. Adds more year-round interest to the game.  The NBA season now runs from around Halloween through mid-June, leaving only four months to fill with inter-season interest.  The draft helps, as does this free agency period.  New rosters take shape and next thing you know, they’re in camp for the new season.

6. Gives new hope to desperate fans.  The promising combination of the draft and free agency gives even the most dejected fan Chicago Cubs-like optimism for next season.  I’m all for that.

So as the league’s superstars prepare to entertain whatever offers and scenarios their agents can line up, I refuse to hearken back to the day when Zeke and Stockton were unwittingly competing for “world’s shortest shorts.”  Instead, I look forward to a new-look Association this fall.

Seriously, check out this list of free agents ranked (

Or, check out this list of free agents by team (

iPad to Save Magazine Publishing?

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to see Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine, present an idea at Ad:Tech San Francisco.  He’s also the author of The Long Tail and Free.

Anderson seems to have a strong vision and strong voice for what’s going on and what’s happening next.

Chris Anderson Wired Magazine AdTech Ad Tech iPad publishing

Chris Anderson sees a future for magazine publishing; it's all about the tablet.

His idea involves Wired, Adobe, Apple’s iPad and a healthy future for magazine publishers like Conde Nast (Wired, Vogue, GQ, and loads more).

He’s presented this idea for a few months now, so I won’t belabor it.  Instead, I’ll share my version of it in bullet-point form.

  • The tablet is the “third great platform” (PC > phone > tablet)
  • The tablet is permitted by the movement of of storage and computing/processing off the local machine and into “the cloud”
  • The web lowers barrier to entry and eliminates scarcity so competition is wide open
  • If the tablet goes rich and dynamic, traditional media may once again be able to deliver their skills in a commanding way
  • Wired/Conde Nast is working with Adobe to establish new publishing process
  • They’re seeking the efficiencies of digital, but with the pricing of analog – need a new economic model to survive, tablet era provides opportunity to create new model
  • Magazines provide the height of production value – layout, design, photos, etc
  • HTML and browsers limit the reproduction of this rich experience online – the magazine is lost in translation
  • At present, Wired magazine and are produced and sold by two separate groups
  • In a new future, digital can be designed and sold in parallel with print, simultaneously
  • Same thoughts, same people, same process
  • Print, portrait and landscape displays all laid out at once
  • It can be made to be worth paying for, not “less than print” like HTML/browser reproduction, but actually more
  • For the first time ever, Anderson sees a 21st century magazine business

I don’t have the knowledge, foresight or even interest to judge whether or not the tablet will, in fact, become the third great platform.

I support the production values argument, but the web has proven “good enough” for most people.

I also feel strongly that new economic models for publishers based in yesterday’s media must be developed.  So many people take such great pride in not watching TV, not reading magazines and not subscribing to newspapers.  Example: “I just get my news from Google.”  Meanwhile, a disproportionately high portion of their media consumption online is provided free by television-, magazine- and newspaper-based publishers.  This can’t go on forever.

So: good luck to Anderson, Adobe and Conde Nast – I wish healthy futures for all content producers, especially ones pushing forward production and display.

HP Slate (their tablet) versus Apple iPad: engadget

Verizon and Google team to make tablet: gizmodo

Another take on his keynote speech: Mobile Marketer

Chris Anderson’s blog: The Long Tail

Chris Anderson on Twitter: chr1sa

Video Demo of Wired Magazine on iPad

iPad Billboard high over Union Square, San Francisco:

Apple iPad Billboard over Union Square, San Francisco, California

iPad Billboard over Union Square, San Francisco

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