Monday , October 14 2019
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NBA earthquake

Summary:
I recently did a post pointing out how the coastal areas are pulling away from older interior cities: Visiting both San Francisco and San Jose on this trip, it was clear how much these cities have pulled away from middle American cities like St. Louis and Cleveland. The wealth and sophistication in the Bay Area is visible everywhere . . . Last night I felt a rolling earthquake, and soon after a major trade represented an earthquake for the NBA.  In the past few days, 4 of the top 10 players have moved to NYC or LA teams, and a top 15 player also moved to NYC.  Last year one of the two greatest players of all time moved to LA.  These two cities are absorbing top NBA talent at a dizzying rate. The most recent Super Bowl was Boston vs. LA, as was the most recent World Series.

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I recently did a post pointing out how the coastal areas are pulling away from older interior cities:

Visiting both San Francisco and San Jose on this trip, it was clear how much these cities have pulled away from middle American cities like St. Louis and Cleveland. The wealth and sophistication in the Bay Area is visible everywhere. .

Last night I felt a rolling earthquake, and soon after a major trade represented an earthquake for the NBA.  In the past few days, 4 of the top 10 players have moved to NYC or LA teams, and a top 15 player also moved to NYC.  Last year one of the two greatest players of all time moved to LA.  These two cities are absorbing top NBA talent at a dizzying rate.

The most recent Super Bowl was Boston vs. LA, as was the most recent World Series.

Sports fans will correctly argue that this isn’t exactly new, as big coastal teams have often been dominant (think NY Yankees.)  But the past week does represent a bit of a change from recent NBA history.  The NBA put into effect a draft lottery, salary caps, and “restricted free agent” rules which favor weaker teams.  For a while that seemed to at least slightly balance things out, as the NY and LA teams were no longer very good.  But now their pull is rapidly overcoming these artificial barriers to success.  You can only hold down a good city for so long.

PS. A few years ago, I criticized the tendency of fans and reporters to question the mental health of players who complain of hard to diagnose injuries that team doctors cannot understand.  In the past NBA finals a Warriors team doctor told Kevin Durant that his injury was healed, and then he immediately went down with a far more serious injury in the same foot area.  He’ll be out for a year.  His team was then beaten by a team led by Kawhi Leonard, who ignored the team doctor’s claim he was healthy, and waited until he was truly healthy before going back out to play.  (Leonard was called a “head case”.)  There’s a real conflict of interest problem with team doctors, and players should not be doubted just because their injury is hard to diagnose.  They know best.

Leonard was often discussed in a very condescending way by people who mistook his introversion for stupidity.  It turns out he is much shrewder than we imagined.

PPS.  Remember that the “free market” model has no relevance for sports, as the “product” is games, and is produced jointly.  Sports teams compete on the playing field, but in an economic sense they cooperate.  Entire leagues are competing with other forms of entertainment.  The league has an incentive to cartelize in order to make games exciting.  If one team (i.e. “firm”) drove the others out of business, it would also go bankrupt.  Sports is not like other industries.

PPPS.  I rated Kyrie as top 20, and AD, Kawhi, PG and KD as top 10.  I don’t think I need to indicate who’s top two of all time.  Other top 10 players include LeBron, Steph, Harden, Giannis, Embiid and .I’m not sure.  Jokic?  Klay?  Dame?  Oladipo?  Westbrook?

PPPPS.  Go Milwaukee Bucks in 2019-20!


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Scott Sumner
Scott B. Sumner is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, the Director of the Program on Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and an economist who teaches at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. His economics blog, The Money Illusion, popularized the idea of nominal GDP targeting, which says that the Fed should target nominal GDP—i.e., real GDP growth plus the rate of inflation—to better "induce the correct level of business investment".

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