All's well that ends Joel

An NBA superstar spent $500,000 to shame his billionaire scoundrel bosses into paying their employees' full salaries.

Good morning. Let’s give high-fives as if we are all Josh Hart.


George Sigmund Facius, print from Act V, Scene III in 1794 publication from John and Josiah Boydell

A play in three acts.

Act I:

Act II:

Act III:

Epilogue:

I mean, holy smokes. Tremendously bad ideas like a couple of billionaires cutting employees’ salaries 20 percent a couple weeks into an unprecedented NBA shutdown — and being the first team to take that plunge after huge uproar demanded that arena and event staff across the league get paid for the rest of the regular season — should die quick deaths. But this idea was so tremendously bad that it didn’t survive a day. And all credit goes to the very online Joel Embiid for destroying that bad idea in one small but huge act.

And then he capped it off by referencing a very online in-joke from Jeopardy!, saying “Let’s be responsible” and dropping a TTP. You can’t convince me there’s a greater NBA superhero right now.

By embarrassing his own bosses, who knows how many other NBA bosses he spared embarrassment? I wrote this in Tuesday’s newsletter:

Is this the start of a trend? Have Harris and Blitzker created a permission structure by which other NBA franchisees will now act?

Or can Harris and Blitzker be sufficiently shamed such that other teams’ ownership groups stay the hell away from acts like this?

Woj tweeted this before Embiid’s flying elbow:

The NBA is a copycat league in every way. Teams almost universally committed to helping arena and event staff get through the expected end of the regular season only because Mark Cuban announced he was doing it on live T.V. in a moment that went viral, and fans shamed teams that were slow to announce their plans. If the Sixers hadn’t gotten away with cutting staff salaries — and getting coaches to voluntarily cut their salaries when they are already facing potential firing in the offseason — other teams would have tried.

I think that’s done. Nice work, Joel. Hopefully the enormous $2 trillion federal relief package will calm down the financial crisis enough so that we can all retrain our focus on the ongoing public health crisis in New York, SEC Country and everywhere else in the world this insidious virus rears its ugly head.

But wait …

Tomorrow in GMIB.

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Ziller Language School: The Unschooling

So Ziller Language School has gone more poorly than any of our coronavirus home school attempts, surely. I am abandoning the Google Translate And Pray model for a more participatory one for the rest of the week.

By the way, there was some confusion about Tuesday’s line, for I am an idiot. I put “get the f—k outta here, I got it!” in Google Translate but only mentioned the “get the f—k outta here” part in the post, which means something approximating “I have it” was added on the in-language lines. Nightmare.

So instead, I’m going to post a line and if you speak another language, put the translation in the comments. We’ll bump those up to the post on Thursday. If you want to also translate “get the f—k outta here, I got it!” to give Melo his proper due, please do. We’ll post some of those on Thursday too.

Today’s line, in honor of the next head coach of the Nets or Knicks, depending on whose dreams or nightmares come true: “Hand down, man down.”

Let’s hear it! How do you say “Hand down, man down” in the language other than English you speak?

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Shout Out to Rodrigue Beaubois

He put 40 points on the Warriors toward the end of Steph Curry’s rookie season.

I like to think this performance inspired Steph going into the offseason, pushing him to work harder so he could one day be as good as Rodrigue Beaubois. It worked.


Links

Heartbreaking video from Karl-Anthony Towns, who announced his mother is in a medically-induced coma due to coronavirus. Prayers out to her.

Must-read ESPN piece on how teams are dealing with the coronavirus shutdown. It includes an anecdote of James Harden shooting in the Rockets’ practice facility with John Lucas III when they are told the NBA has shut down practice facilities. Harden asks “what do we do?”

Beautiful. A 15-minute video from the Let’s Go Warriors crew breaking down Steph Curry’s absolute peak: the BANG! BANG! game. I will never forget watching this game in my living room with my kids.

The Olympics were officially postponed to 2021 on Tuesday. Gregg Popovich and Jerry Colangelo both reaffirmed their committments. But depending on the calendar, it could be hard for some NBA stars to participate.

I missed Zach Lowe’s weekly column last week because ESPN.com makes it very hard to find the content I want! Spoiler alert: Zach’s piece is, as always, good.

Steve Ballmer officially bought The Forum for $400 million (sheesh) which means he can build a new arena nearby in Inglewood and GTFO of the STAPLES Center. Getting out of the Lakers’ shadow is a huge step for the Clippers’ brand. Winning the 2020 or 2021 championship (or both!) would go a long way, too.

CHAD FORD BACK?!

The Chinese Basketball Association’s restart has been pushed back to May.

Nice piece in The Athletic on the Thunder doctor who hustled to stop the OKC-Utah game the day Rudy Gobert’s coronavirus test came back positive.

Marc Stein on the legacy of Boris Stankovic, the former FIBA Secretary General who helped get NBA players into the Olympics and was thus involved in launching the Dream Team, who died last week at age 94.

John Hollinger on how he’s finish the NBA season in 80 days.

Lindsay Gibbs on how coronavirus could crush women’s sports and how fans can fight back.

Heartwarming story from Celticsland.

Draft announcements are starting to trickle in. Ty Halliburton is in. Kenyon Martin, Jr. is in.

The Ringer ranked the top 50 episodes of The Office. Correct choice for No. 1. I lose my mind every time I see it.

Scott Hines on explaining the unexplainable.


Thanks for your support. Be excellent to each other.


Mistrust the Process

The billionaire owners of the Philadelphia 76ers cut employees' pay not two weeks into the NBA shutdown.

Good morning. Let’s basketball.


Workers on Their Way Home, Edvard Munch

The NBA either has a new vulture villain, or a nasty trendsetter.

This does not impact players, but GM Elton Brand agreed to participate and …

The important context:

Harris and Blitzer are the lead partners of the group that owns the Sixers and NHL’s Devils.

Twitter sleuths have determined that the Sixers have about 500 employees. If they made an average salary of $75,000, Harris and Blitzer are saving about $625,000 a month in expenses from this 20% cut. I know that having three commas in net worth doesn’t mean you can withstand any financial hit. I understand the concept of worth vs. liquid assets and all of that.

But you cannot convince me that dudes worth a combined $5 billion are unable to keep their employees whole not two f—king weeks into a generational crisis. Small business owners across the country are burning through savings and using loans against their homes and businesses in efforts to retain their employees through this crisis until the federal government gets some assistance out.

I’m not saying Harris and Blitzer have the cash sitting around to cover the losses right now. But if they wanted to take care of the people hawking season tickets and partnerships and running charitable giving and social media and the trainers and equipment managers and everyone who makes the Sixers work, they could. Without question.

I never asked for nothin' I don't demand of myself
Honesty, loyalty, friends and then wealth
Death before dishonor and I tell you what else
I tighten my belt 'fore I beg for help

What worries me is that Harris and Blitzer were comfortable being ghouls already at this point. Like I said, we’re not two f—king weeks into this crisis. The NBA suspended the season on March 11. And already one of the wealthiest ownership groups in the league is slicing up employees’ paychecks to cover expected losses. Is this the start of a trend? Have Harris and Blitzker created a permission structure by which other NBA franchisees will now act?

Or can Harris and Blitzker be sufficiently shamed such that other teams’ ownership groups stay the hell away from acts like this?

Here’s to hoping.

Meanwhile, why are billionaires so bad at PR?

“In addition to supporting our people …” — no no no, you don’t get to claim that when you give “your people” 20 percent paycuts off the rip. And if you do decide it’s necessary you don’t implement or announce the paycuts before you have these “additional partnerships in Philadelphia, Camden and Newark” ready to go — you’d better have your good deeds in hand when word gets out about the bad.

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An Alternate Model

Here’s a billionaire NBA franchisee who seems to be doing the right thing over and over again: Mark Cuban. Here’s a great rundown from Mavs Moneyball.

Cuban was the first team owner to announce arena and event staff would be paid as if the regular season had not been suspended. He agreed to reimburse staff for expenses at local restaurants in an effort to keep some Dallas joints going. And under his direction, the Mavericks have been doing some extraordinary, focused giving to food banks all over North Texas and ensuring nurses and medical personnel under enormous stress are getting fed.

Unlike Harris and Blitzer, Cuban isn’t focused on cutting expenses to maximize the preservation of his immense wealth. He’s trying to figure out how to use his immense wealth to maximize the help he can give.

Let’s hope he’s the example other franchisees follow.


Word to Kyrie Irving

Thank you all for the birthday love, I’m extremely grateful for the support. Seeing the effects of COVID-19 reach our loved ones, our schools, our jobs, and access to food has really impacted me. I am excited to partner with @feedingamerica and @lineagelogistics to launch the Share A Meal campaign to help marginalized communities get the food resources they require during this time, and to work with our local partner @cityharvestnyc to distribute 250k meals to my neighbors in need across the NY area. In addition to that I am donating $323k to Feeding America and @lineagelogistics will match $200k of what we raise together.  I am asking my fans, friends, family and partners to join me in helping our communities by donating at the link in my bio. Thank you to everyone on the front line working to keep all of us safe, healthy, and fed. Together we can change the world one small gesture at a time.
March 23, 2020

Ziller Language School: Day 2

Thanks for the corrections in the comments yesterday. For Day 2, in honor of Carmelo Anthony and directed toward the Sixers ownership group, let’s learn some weird approximation of “get the f—k outta here!”

Spanish: ¡Vete de aquí, lo tengo!

Chinese: Gǔndàn, wǒ míngbáile!

French: Foutez le camp d'ici, je l'ai!

German: Verschwinde von hier, ich habe es verstanden!

Hindi: Bhaad mein jao yahaan se, mujhe mil gaya!

Russian: Ubiraysya otsyuda, ya ponyal!

Turkish: Siktir git buradan, anladım!

Slovenian: Pojdi ven, dobil sem ga!

Portuguese: Vaza já daqui, Xispa! — Abrigado, Pedro!

Latin: Et irrumabo adepto de hic et obtinuit eam!

Icelandic: Fáðu fjandann héðan, ég hef það!

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Shout Out to Quincy Douby

Wow, Quincy Douby was a few years too early, wasn’t he?

He entered the league in ‘06 — almost a decade before the three-point boom — and was out by ‘09. The Kings were an absolute wreck at the time and slotted him as a point guard in part because Sacramento desperately needed a point guard after shipping Mike Bibby off for cap space and because the Kings had Kevin Martin, John Salmons and Francisco Garcia, all true shooting guards. Quincy Douby was in no way, shape or form an NBA point guard. Alas …

He once scored 75 in the Chinese league.

My favorite Quincy Douby anecdote that I can’t find a citation for right now is that he got an offer from Rutgers via a shooting exhibition he did while wearing a puffy winter coat. There has never been a basketball player who played more like he was wearing a puffy winter coat than Quincy Douby.

Shout out to Quincy Douby.


Thanks for your support. Be excellent to each other.

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