Why Do NBA Franchises Fall for the Trap of Building Super-Teams? (Guest Writer: Jeremy Johnson @Clark_Kent_75)

lebron-james

The champagne had not been cleaned from the San Antonio Spurs’ locker room floors before every NBA fan and most team’s executives started to speculate. Where would LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony be playing basketball next season? Would they pair up together and change the trajectory of an entire league? Would they find a team with a budding young star and join them?

The free agency trend that has been prevalent among teams since back in the summer of 2010 when LeBron James uttered his now iconic phrase telling the world of his decision. LeBron spurned his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers and joined the Miami Heat in a team up of stars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh that rivals Marvel’s “Avengers.” LeBron joined his Super Friends down on South Beach and proceeded to claim they had just created a dynasty.

Oh come on! We all remember LeBron’s overenthusiastic proclamation at the pep rally following the Big Three’s assembling. Though they did capture two NBA titles and make four straight Finals appearances, the Heat fell short of being a dynasty in my book. They did cement LeBron’s legacy by getting him two rings and locking him into being considered a top 10 player all-time.

But eventually in the fourth season of the Big Three era, James had seemingly become the One Man Army similar to the situation that had him bolting away from Cleveland four years prior. James opted out of his deal possibly bringing an end to the Heat’s Big Three era. What wasn’t known at the time of the big three’s conception is that it was about to change the way teams went about planning their offseasons and started an arms race among NBA franchises.

Along with the arms race came the new notion of the buddy system in the NBA—players collaborating and trying to collect their friends or guys they want to play with in an attempt to join forces to make a run at a title. No other team has been even as successful as the Heat were. No other team has even come close. In fact, the teams that have won titles during the Heat’s era are teams built largely through draft picks and trade positioning.

The 2010 Dallas Mavericks, for example, drafted the one star they had on their roster during their championship season. Dirk Nowitzki has played his entire career in Dallas and owner Mark Cuban has worked to put a team around him.
Emphasis on team.

This past season’s champion San Antonio Spurs drafted its three stars in Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli and added pieces around them.

So building super-teams isn’t the only way to win championships. So why has it become so prevalent for teams to try to assemble one? Let’s be honest. The Miami Heat were driven by LeBron James to their success though he had a very above average supporting cast. But there’s only one LeBron James, and outside of Kevin Durant, no player in the NBA will single handedly change a whole league’s expected landscape in one move.

So why have teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, and Houston Rockets grappled with stars to join their teams for the last three summers in what always comes up to ultimately ended up being highly publicized unsuccessful chemistry projects that only yield mixed results and do not ascend those teams to the elites. It only puts them in a group with the up and coming built teams that are cheaper and younger. Examples that fall into that category are the Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers. So it’s not who a team signs, or who’s friends with who, but how a team is built to fit a common goal every player has a role and fill that role on a consistent basis.

So, why then every summer is free agency held hostage by one or two super stars trying to team up with a buddy? I blame the age of social media and technology that allows these players to connect with each other.

Back in the 90’s at the peak of the Chicago Bulls dynasty, I have a hard time imagining Michael Jordan tweeting about Patrick Ewing having a big game. Or Michael Jordan smiling and hugging Isaiah Thomas after beating them in the Eastern Conference Finals. As it is we sit as fans and the role players that will truly make an impact on creating the winning formula. We collectively wait as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh make their decisions and are wined and dined by teams and pitched on the futures of prospective franchises as if they are about to make a purchase.

This must happen before the Luol Dengs and Trevor Arizas of the world can find their new homes as every team in the NBA is considering breaking their team apart completely to stack a team of stars together a formula that has mixed results to begin with. But teams are not about to remove themselves from contention of hosting the new big three by signing complimentary players. Ignoring the fact that the formula of stacking stars is only creating a giant gap between the haves and have-nots of the NBA as a result.

The smaller market teams struggle to strike gold in the toss up that is the NBA Draft only to watch that gold run to join another team. The quality of the game is suffering as all the good players play on a handful of teams and the good role players follow and familiarity with teammates is a thing of the past. Leaving the bottom tier with the left overs. Yet the NBA is as popular as ever. I leave with the question are spoiled stars ruining the NBA or is the NBA spoiling the stars and ruining itself?

“The Voice of New York” to Find a New Microphone? Angie Martinez Resigns from Hot 97

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This one literally came out of nowhere!

At approximately 3:45 p.m. in the New York City area, Longtime WQHT-FM Hot 97 afternoon DJ Angie Martinez announced via her Twitter and Instagram that after 20-plus years on the Urban station that she was resigning from Hot 97.

“Today I resigned from Hot 97. I am grateful to the Emmis family for my time with the company and the immeasurable way that it has shaped my life. We made history in so many ways and I will cherish those memories and my friendships forever. This was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but ultimately it is time to move on, to grow, and to be challenged in new ways. Saying goodbye is always emotional and bitter sweet, but I am extremely excited about the future. Thank you Hot 97 and most importantly…the listeners…for an unimaginable journey. Today will be my last show. Stay tuned….Love, Angie” –Angie Martinez via Instagram, June 18, 2014

Along with her Instagram post was a photo with the words “Life Has to Move Forward. Everything Has Its Time and Everything Ends.”

Such a move could not have come at a worse time for Emmis’ Hot 97. The company is expected to close on its purchase of Urban AC 107.5 WBLS and Gospel 1190 WLIB by the end of the year, but it is coming at a time where Hot 97 is in the throes of a perceived identity crisis inside the Tri-State area, among aficionados of Hip-Hop, and radio listeners.

In the May PPMs, Hot was still leading Power 105.1 by a margin of 3.5 to 3.2, but R&B WBLS (buoyed by the fact that it has had no real competitor since Emmis LMA’ed 98.7 Kiss to ESPN) is near the top of the NYC PPMs at a 5.6—ahead of both Hot and Power.
As far as Hot’s perceived identity crisis among hip-hop heads goes, it is said that while Power caters to more “hardcore” fans of hip-hop & R&B (The Breakfast Club—DJ Envy, Angela Yee, Charlamagne the God probably helps a lot as well), Hot has seemingly become too “Hot” for its own good. Critics contend that Hot has drifted too much into the territory of other stations that typically play the “hits” like WHTZ “Z-100”, WKTU “103.5 KTU”, WPLJ 95.5, and WNOW 92.3 Amp Radio.

Let’s call a spade a spade for just a second—in many ways, Angie Martinez CARRIED Hot 97. She was #1 in afternoons in market numero uno. In radio terms, that is an accomplishment, to say the least. That’s why I wouldn’t want to be an Emmis executive.
There’s no doubt about it that with Martinez leaving Hot 97 that their slim lead they have (per the May PPMs) over Power 105.1 will shrink or even evaporate completely. By how much is anyone’s guess, but I guess we’ll have to wait for the July PPMs in August for a clear picture on how that goes.

Tick…tick…tick…tick…tick

It’s also the second time that a major Gotham radio personality has taken an offer from “across the street”. Radio legend Scott Shannon (formerly from the True Oldies Channel and the “Scott & Todd” Morning show on ‘PLJ) left to become the new morning jock at heritage Oldies/Classic Hits 101.1 WCBS-FM.

Now, “The Voice of New York” will find a new microphone for said voice to be heard all throughout the Tri-State. But where?
Immediately, speculation ran like a flood of subway trains that Angie had also accepted an offer from across the street at Power 105.1. Already with The Breakfast Club and the perception that they’ve unseated Hot 97 as The Big Apple’s Hip-Hop station, for them to be the new home for “The Voice” would be huge…like, the Empire State Building.

In addition, there seems to be another wrinkle to this story that is not even being provided by Emmis or Clear Channel.

Think…Atlanta. More specifically, the Dickey Brothers.

Cumulus Media already were the owners of PLJ and Conservative News/Talk Information station WABC-AM 77. Plus, when Cumulus bought WFME 94.7 from Harold Camping’s Family Radio, they used it as the launching pad for the first of their many “Nash-FM” Country radio stations. Nash has since set up its state-of-the-art studios at its “Nash Campus” in Nashville at WKDF 103.3 and is emphasizing the Country lifestyle as well as the music.

Cumulus also happens to own a radio station in Westchester County at 103.9 WFAS that airs an Adult Contemporary format. There has been plenty of speculation about if Cumulus may move the 103.9 tower from White Plains and into The City.

That looks like it is about to happen as Cumulus seems to want to move the 103.9 out of the pricy NYC suburbs of Westchester and into The Bronx to target more of the Boroughs.

That would seem like it would be a perfect place for a new Alternative or Active Rock station in NYC, wouldn’t it? Especially since Gotham has been starving for a Modern Rocker since 101.9 was bought by (now defunct) Merlin Media and changed into an FM News Radio station—a move that turned out to be one of the biggest failures in New York City radio history.

Exactly.

101.9 is now owned by CBS Radio and is simulcasting 660 WFAN.

A random Twitter account was spotted under the tagline @radio1039NY. Does this mean a stunt, or the actual rebranding of the station? The brand “Radio” is more commonly used for Alternative, Active, and AAA Rock stations as well as CHRs. But given Amp’s struggles vs. Z and the fact that Cumulus already owns ‘PLJ, it is unlikely Cumulus tries a Q-100 (Atlanta) clone in Gotham.

As for the 103.9, the news regarding Angie Martinez broke at the exact same time that many observers and radio pundits remembered in the back of their collective noggins that Cumulus has plans for its 103.9.

And reports say that they do not include amps and electric guitars.

Rumors are running rampant that 103.9 may change its format to some variation of Urban and is a possible landing spot for Angie Martinez. Format wise, it would automatically be an assumption that the best fit for her would be Power 105.1.

Uh….not exactly.

103.9 could also go Mainstream Urban, but Cumulus would seemingly be only flipping said station to a Mainstream Urban outlet solely to market Angie Martinez as the face of the new station. Such an outlet would garner ratings in a New York minute given how popular she is around New York—and around the country.

But the station does not necessarily have to be Mainstream Urban to fit Martinez. Cumulus could change 103.9 into an Urban AC station ala ‘BLS and the old Kiss FM. When Kiss flipped to ESPN Radio, Martinez tweeted about her fandom of Kiss FM.

In addition, Urban radio disc jockeys regularly transition to Urban AC and Urban Oldies stations later in their careers. This is partly because being a 40+ or 50+ year old on a Mainstream Urban station is not exactly a good fit. In addition, they do it themselves for the sole purpose of reconnecting with their audience that listened to them early on in their Mainstream Urban days, that thanks to age and the changes in the music business, were probably no longer listening to Hip-Hop and were transitioning themselves to R&B/Urban AC/Oldies stations.

Rick Party was a popular DJ on Chicago’s WGCI 107.5 (Urban) for many years. Now, he does afternoon on WHQT Hot 105 in Miami—an Urban Oldies outlet owned by Cox.

Ed Lover (of Yo! MTV Raps and “C’mon Son!” fame) had stints on Hot 97 and Power 105 before accepting a weekend DJ gig on 98.7 Kiss FM as the host of “Friday Night Flava”. He now does a show six days a week on Sirius XM’s Old School Hip Hop channel, Backspin.
So it would not be unusual if Martinez went the same path—to an Urban AC on a 103.9, if Cumulus flips 103.9 to Urban AC and if that’s where Martinez ends up.

But such a move would come at an almost unbelievable time for Cumulus. They would flip a 103.9 to Urban AC—a second Urban AC. The Tri-State has not had a second Urban AC since the Kiss flip.

Also, Cumulus seemingly wants one major Urban personality while making life anything but a smooth broadcast for another. They are suing former nationally syndicated afternoon drive-time host Michael Baisden for an estimated $1 million according to reports. The suit alleges that Baisden and his production company were paid for over a year after he left.

There is no market that Baisden coveted more than New York City, even as a native Chicagoan. As time drifted closer and closer to the cancellation of his show by Cumulus Media Networks, Baisden was hemorrhaging affiliates, including a Radio One station in Dallas at 94.5 K-Soul that shifted its format from Urban AC to Urban Oldies “Old School 94.5” (that has since reverted back to the K-Soul name). A Clear Channel outlet in Philadelphia (105.3 WDAS) also stopped airing his show.

When Kiss flipped to ESPN, Baisden began an on-air and social media campaign to get WBLS to pick up his show. Some of Kiss’s hosts were successful in moving over to ‘BLS, including late-night host Lenny Green, but ‘BLS never tapped the syndied Baisden for afternoons.

Baisden was let go without even being allowed to do a week’s worth of shows to say goodbye to his audience. He has since been replaced in afternoons by D.L. Hughley. Baisden has since gone on to put more emphasis on his endeavors as a motivational speaker and author.

There is even talk that perhaps Martinez may link up with Sean “Puffy” Combs and become a host of her own show on his “Revolt TV” channel. The “bossip” site…well, called Bossip has a supposed exclusive on its website saying Martinez already has accepted an offer to go “across the street” to Power 105.1.

But that is a tabloid site, of course, along the lines of Media Take Out. I prefer to be patient and “esperate” (wait) for official word from either a station or from Angie herself.

That remains to be seen, if it is Power, the new Urban at 103.9, Revolt, or someplace else. One thing is for sure—wherever “The Voice of New York” is heard, New York is likely to listen.

Oh, one more thing as an abrupt P.S.: Dare I say that, Angie, your loyal fans “will go, contigo” wherever it is you are. Anyone forget that she also gave us this circa 2002? Around the same time that Power debuted on New York radio after flipping from “Jammin’ Oldies”

Wonder how much Power played it at the time. They ought to now if she’s heading across the street from Hot 97!