Obama's a One-Man Basketball Stimulus Package

Was the president trying to help bail out the NBA?

Everybody knows that President Obama is a big basketball fan. He played in high school, and his three-point accuracy made him known as "Barry the Bomber"  (a nickname that had nothing to do with his later friendship with William Ayers -- nyuk, nyuk)!

But, one might ask whether his attendance at a Friday night game -- with a different Chicago friend -- might mean something more. 

Is it possible that Obama was trying to use his considerable cultural cache to help prop up the National Basketball Association or at least some of its teams? 

That might not be readily apparent: Last year's final between classic rivals Los Angeles Lakers and eventual champion Boston Celtics provided a much-needed shot in the arm. The new post-Jordan league "savior," Lebron James, managed to make it to the finals in 2007 and looks like he's ready to take another run at the title this season. 

The NBA would love a Cleveland Cavaliers-Lakers contest that would pit "King" James against Kobe Bryant. 

But that's the good side of the coin.

On the other? Coincidentally (or not), the day before the Bulls-Wizards game, the NBA gained an additional $175 million line of credit (above an existing $1.7 billion league credit package).  As many as 15 teams -- half the entire league -- have given notice that they would access funds from the line. Several are reportedly truly hurting.

While there has been much attention devoted to banks tottering toward bankruptcy -- and shocking developments like the Rocky Mountain News announcing that it would be shutting its doors -- very little attention has been given to the very real possibility that a professional team (or two or three) could conceivably go under sometime over the coming months. 

Why? For the same reasons that so many other sectors of the economy are collapsing: advertising markets are drying up, foolish labor choices were made and industry-specific problems such as overly expensive stadiums persist. 

So, after five weeks on a huge spending and bailout spree, is it possible Obama might have been sending a very public signal that the NBA should be considered a worthy investment, given that the league has a "friend" in the White House?. 

Of course, a president can only do so much. Former president George W. Bush once owned the Texas Rangers and they certainly weren't that competitive while he was commander-in-chief. Of course, that was then.   

On the other hand, maybe Obama just wanted to catch a good game after a long week. Alas, considering that his beloved Bulls got blown out -- even that turned out to be a fruitless goal. 

Robert A. George is a New York writer. He blogs at Ragged Thots

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