In professional sports, there is no greater advantage than a supportive owner willing to dig into their deep pockets. Sure, there are certainly ways to try to remain competitive with teams with such ownership, but there’s just no getting around discrepancies in resources.
The Los Angeles Lakers should never have to worry about such inequities, given the market they dominate and revenue they generate, but when you compare Jeanie Buss’ net worth (reportedly $500 million) to Steve Ballmer’s ($90.2 billion — with a “b”), you can see how Ballmer might be more comfortable splashing money in areas that aren’t limited by cap restrictions.
So, as rumors continue to swirl connecting Nike co-founder Phil Knight (net worth of $43.8 billion — again, with a “b”) to the Trail Blazers, it’s worth considering for a second what adding him to an already insanely-competitive league could mean.
To do so, I welcomed Sean Highkin, who covers the Blazers for his own newsletter and podcast, “The Rose Garden Report,” on this week’s “Anthony Irwin Show.”
In Knight’s case, not only would competing owners have to worry about what his immense net worth would mean for Portland’s day-to-day operations, but also about the relationships he formed given Nike’s stranglehold on professional sports culture, especially in the NBA.
Essentially, Damian Lillard likely wouldn’t have to worry about to or from the grind any longer. Being the face of the Blazers would likely be a lot less grinding.
This isn’t to say Knight shouldn’t be welcomed to the league, to be clear. A principal governor as invested as Knight assuredly would be is unquestionably good for the NBA. We have recently seen competing owners complain about spending abilities across the league, and adding pockets as deep as Knights would have an immense ripple effect.
(Quick aside: Let’s all take a quick second to marvel at a bunch of ridiculously wealthy people complaining about resource disparities without even an ounce of self-awareness.)
Highkin and I discussed Knight’s chances at buying the Blazers, Bronny James’ college recruiting, Portland’s recent decision to force their radio and telecast teams to call games remotely, Damian Lillard’s approach to working with his organization compared to Kevin Durant, and plenty more.
You can listen to all that and more on our latest episode in the player embedded below, and to make sure you don’t miss a single one moving forward, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.