Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Friday, December 9, 2011

The day the NBA died

Born: June 6, 1946
Died: December 8, 2011

The National Basketball Association passed away under duress as a result of strangulation from 25 of the 30 league team owners on Thursday, December 8, 2011. The hands on the throat that applied most of the pressure and led to loss of blood to the brain resulting in death belonged to Cleveland Cavalier’s CEO Dan Gilbert.

The police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders are hard at work today laying the groundwork for actions against the perpetrators.

Some would characterize this as a crime of passion. The chain of events leading to death were precipitated by a proposed three-team trade that would have sent Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers, and an assortment of other players and draft picks moving to New Orleans and Houston in order to complete the deal. All-Star Pau Gasol and NBA Dream-Teamer Lamar Odom would have moved from the Lakers to the Rockets and Hornets, respectively, as part of the deal.
Eric D. Schulz

Upon word leaking of the impending trade, several small-market owners- led by Gilbert – called the league office, and stated that the proposed trade was a “travesty” and urged NBA Commissioner David Stern to put the deal to a vote of the “29 owners of the Hornets” (the team is owned by the league, therefore the other 29 NBA teams all “own” an equal percentage of the franchise). Other small-market owners rallied behind Gilbert, afraid that the “superstar” team formations that had begun in Miami and New York – and ostensibly would be halted by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which was sold to the owners as a move towards a more level playing field among teams – was still business-as-usual. Gilbert mused that if the deal were approved, the NBA would become “five teams, and 25 others all named the Washington Generals”. For those of you unfamiliar with the Washington Generals, it is the long-time opponent of the world famous Harlem Globetrotters. The Generals have only beaten the Globies six times in 49 years, losing over 13,000 games since their last win which came on January 5, 1971.

With his brain both oxygen deprived and with reduced blood flow, commissioner David Stern killed the trade and his league with an unprecedented and never-before-used veto power, citing “basketball reasons” as the rationale for nixing the deal. Never before has the league interfered in trades, as long as they had met the required financial criteria (i.e. salary matching).

Pre-meditated murder with extenuating circumstances are the charges being prepared for filing. Temporary insanity is contemplated as a primary defense motion for Commissioner Stern and the League office.

Services are pending.

Eric D. Schulz is the co-director of strategic marketing and brand management at the Jon M Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. Prior to joining the University, he spent five years as Vice-President of Marketing for the Utah Jazz (NBA); he previously was VP of Marketing with the XFL Football League, and served as a general manager in minor league baseball. He can be reached at

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