Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Mercury Mystery

Supposedly, on Monday, the Phoenix Mercury will be joined by NBA Commissioner David Stern and WNBA President Donna Orender for a major announcement. The announcement will theoretically be so major that the Phoenix Mercury web site will shut down on Monday in order for the staff to handle other things. (And, one surmises, to keep the site from continually crashing due to the massive amount of hits.)

(UPDATE: The site went on lockdown today. Visit the locked down site to see what it looks like.)

Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter will both be at the announcement.

This has involved...well, a lot of speculation regarding what this announcement is and why they couldn't give up more detail. Knowledgeable posters with insights into the Atlanta Dream' s inner operations stated that this was actually slated to happen in 2008 with the Atlanta Dream franchise, but it fell apart. So fans, it coulda been us. The e-mail received by some Mercury fans said that it was the biggest story in the Mercury's history...and the Merc is an original franchise of the WNBA, dating back to 1997.

Here are some of the theories:

1. The Phoenix Mercury will change ownership. Okay, the Phoenix Mercury will be independently owned instead of being owned by the same guy who owns the Suns. The question is why would David Stern bother to show up for that? NBA franchises change ownership and Stern doesn't show up for those annoucements.

Furthermore, the Atlanta source says that this is not an ownership change. I find this poster's information to be highly reliable, as good as gold bullion in most cases.

2. It's a major coaching change. Someone monstrously important is going to coach the Mercury. I'm thinking Summitt. Or Auriemma. Or Stringer. But I don't think that will happen for a number of reasons.

3. A change in the ownership structure. The same owners might be involved, but there could be some switch over to a new ownership model:

a) allowing foreign ownership to buy in, or
b) alllowing player shares in the Mercury, where the players can own some of the equity, or
c) allowing the Mercury to become a publicly traded company.

a) isn't anything special.

As for b), this has been done before. One of the more reliable RebKell posters states that the ABL did this and the WUSA (the first of the pro women's soccer leagues) did this and it ended up a "hot mess". Even though I agree with his points, I don't think this killed the ABL - the ABL's problems were caused by a top-down franchise ownership model where individual franchises had little power to make decisions on their own and therefore couldn't take advantage of local opportunities.

c) on the other hand would be truly interesting. The major reason that American sports franchises aren't corporations and are privately owned entities is that a privately owned entity never has to show its books to anyone. Whereas a corporation does have to show its books, so to speak.

If it's c) I don't see how Stern would agree with it. Unless it's a "poison pill" - maybe the Mercury aren't doing well and if they're publicly owned, the world can see that, which would make it easier to fold the franchise without any muss or fuss.

As for me...I'm holding out for #1, above. Michael Jordan is going to buy the Mercury. Or Bill Gates. Or Oprah Winfrey, or some sort of new super-owner, someone so astonishing that even Bill Stern had to pay homage. Could it be that the Gloved One is going to buy the Mercury?

No comments: