Jeff Pearlman

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Just took a shower. As the water was cascading down, I was thinking more about the WNBA.

I truly hate Ben’s point about the WNBA being more profitable than the NBA, and want to elaborate on the intellectual dishonesty behind it.

I attended Mahopac High School. Our student newspaper was called The Chieftain. Just as the NBA subsidizes much of the WNBA, the high school subsidized much of our newspaper. They paid for the space, the printing, etc. We supplied little things, and sold ads for profit. Hence, even though each issue might have technically cost, oh, $300 to print, we turned a profit.

By that logic, The Chieftain is “more profitable” than The New York Times, which has enormous overhead and probably hasn’t turned a real profit for years.

That’s how, under Ben York’s explanation, the WNBA is more profitable than the NBA.

PS: The truth is, I’m guessing—and I certainly can be wrong—that Ben has never asked a WNBA official how the league is more profitable. Which is sort of inexcusable, if you’re covering the league and simply taking it at its word. For example, Tyler Kepner, the Times’ great baseball writer, would never simply accept a “fact” from Brian Cashman sans confirmation.

  • Ping

    You can’t leave it alone, can you? Your utter bitterness over the WNBA is causing me to question your professionalism after you accuse another professional of being on drugs. Where’s your article on the lunacy of the professional lacrosse league? I mean, if you think the WNBA is fringe and has no right to exist, then lacrosse definitely is an insult to America!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben York

    The quote was from David Stern himself. Doesn’t have to make a ton of money to be more profitable. NBA is losing millions of dollars across almost all teams. Check the figures. http://tvnz.co.nz/basketball-news/nba-getting-through-tough-times-2539976

  • http://brandonsneed.com/blog Brandon Sneed

    Ping, I’m pretty sure his frustration isn’t with the WNBA. OK, the column wasn’t his best, but he’s owned that. And I’m pretty sure he never said the WNBA has no right to exist. And what does lacrosse have to do with it? He was comparing the WNBA to the NBA. The NBA is wildly popular. Have you not seen the polarization created by the whole LeBron circus? Can you even imagine a WNBA player creating such a buzz? No, of course not. Because the WNBA isn’t as appealing as the NBA. That’s all Jeff was observing. Again, not his best work, that column. But hell, even Albert Pujols strikes out sometimes.

    Whatever the case, that’s in the past.

    Now he’s talking journalism.

    Speaking of which, it’d be cool if he asked York if he’d confirmed any of those profit stats. Maybe that’s worth looking into. But he’s making a point about professionalism, taking his stand against someone who’s ripped into him. It’s the world of sportswriting. It’s the world of journalism. You call someone out, you should expect to be scrutinized in return. Dude, York called Jeff out for not responding. Now Jeff’s responding.

    Don’t mean to ramble on about it. I ordinarily avoid Internet conversations like this. But I feel compelled to speak up on Jeff’s behalf here. Not because I see myself as some all-knowing entity, but because Jeff’s helped me, he’s a decent guy, and he’s passionate about doing things the right way.

    Maybe he swings and misses sometimes. But he tries his hardest. I know that much.

  • Sarah

    Brandon…are you sure you aren’t really Jeff? The way you kiss his a** and defend him is both endearing…and weird. The guy wrote a column…and bashed a sport and league. Of course people are going to react. If he didn’t want guys like Ben York responding to him…then he shouldn’t have written the article. And to put professionalism and Pearlman in the same sentence is hilarious.

  • chris

    Sarah-
    I don’t know Jeff at all, though I’ve been reading him for years.
    what leads you to believe he’s not professional?

  • chris

    Ben-
    if league A is losing money and league B makes $1 profit, then yes I guess that makes league B “more profitable.”

    it doesn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, make it more successful.

  • http://brandonsneed.com/blog Brandon Sneed

    Sarah….I said this already on the other blog, but this is why I avoid Internet debates. Or even discussions. Needless and pointless and substance devoid pot shots from one person to another, usually anonymously. Which you are.

    As for me sticking up for Jeff….yeah, well, I’m weird sometimes. I stick up for people who treat me well. Imagine that.

  • SteveH

    “We’re budgeting the WNBA to break even this year.”

    “We’re,” meaning the NBA, is budgeting the WNBA to break even.

    That’s hardly evidence the WNBA is far more profitable than the NBA…and I’d guess the Cleveland Cavaliers are far more profitable then the entire WNBA, on its own. But that was before LeBron left town.

  • Aaron H

    Does anyone on here believe that any of the WNBA players canake the jump to the WNFL. I can’t wait for the first WNFL game. Sick. Pearlman for prez

  • Geoff

    I have a mild interest in Australia because we have a few pretty good players in the W. My take from the other side of the world is that attendance figures don’t seem too bad and that the top players seem to have a reasonable profile with visits to the White House, ESPYs and semi-regular articles like this one. What does surprise me though is the extreme hostility I regularly see in web comments about the WNBA. I’m fine with people loving the NBA, but what is this strange, and I’d suggest distictly American, need to disparage a sport you have no interest in. I don’t see that in Oz, or Russia, or Spain, or UK, or Japan, or anywhere else. So why the need to put down someone else’s pastime in the ‘land of the free’.

  • Bryan

    geoff-

    i agree with you that people shouldnt disparage. but the nba forces the wnba down people’s throats

  • Jeff

    There’s a certain irony to dedicating an entire article in America’s premier Sports Magazine to detail the irrelevance of a sports league. It must have been a slow news week.

    • http://www.jeffpearlman.com Jeff Pearlman

      it was only on the web.

  • Jim

    What is the debate, exactly? The original column just argued that the WNBA is not widely popular and never will be. How is that false, and why is that a sexist argument?

    Skiing will never be widely popular in the US. Neither will track and field. Or bluegrass music. That doesn’t mean that skiing, track, and bluegrass music suck, or that they shouldn’t exist, or that the people who participate in those activities are somehow inferior.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life