(Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony are seated at the far end of a conference room in the Flyers' Executive Offices in Wells Fargo Center)
Carmelo Anthony: Man, what the hell are we doing here?? This team only won 19 games last year.
Lebron James: I know, man. Just listen to him. This choice isn't just made on a basketball court.
(Lights dim. Spotlights shine on the door. Jay-Z's "Meet The Parents" blares from speakers as Sam Hinkie walks through the door with a maniacal grin.)
"First they love me, then they hate me, then they love me again"
(Sam Hinkie sits across from them)
"Let's take a trip down.....let's take a trip down memory lane....."
(Music fades. Lebron and Carmelo do their best to stifle laughter. Hinkie, unshaken, begins to speak.)
Sam Hinkie: A trip down memory lane, my friends. Welcome to Philadelphia. It's where the best who ever played was born and raised. It's where Doctor J rocked the baby to sleep. It's where a young Allen Iverson crossed-over Michael Jordan. It's where Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony won four titles.....listen guys, I'm going to cut the crap here. We think we have real talent on this team and the key number is four. All of our youth will be on rookie-scale contracts for the next four seasons at least. We can only offer a max of four years to both of you, so that gives us a well-defined window of competition. All teams need superstars. Everybody knows this. People are under some wild assumption that this is a 3 - 5 year process. It may very well be, but there is also a good chance that there might not even be any superstars available when that time arrives. There are only so many stars to go around. Durant looks ticketed for New York if he can't win in Oklahoma City. They've already hired his buddy Derek Fisher as Head Coach and will have more than enough cap room when the time comes. Kevin Love will likely force his way to the West coast at some point, so that's another one off the board. If two of the Top 5 players in the NBA are available at the same time with a mutual interest in playing together on the same team, I'm not going to sit here on my ass and say that it doesn't fit in with our timeline. Timing is everything in business. I only manufactured this Together We Build crap to soften the blow to the fan-base in case you didn't come here, and it's a more-than-acceptable worst-case scenario. If you tailor your marketing around Plan B, then no one will get caught thinking "what if", especially if they're never aware that Plan A even existed in the first place. It's a 101-course in covering your ass, and we all do it every single day. So let's get started.
(Sam Hinkie turns to his trusty PowerPoint presentation. Lebron and Carmelo check their watches.)
Sam Hinkie: Let me start by saying that if either of you want to stay here past Year 4, then we'd love to have you, but we definitely won't stand in your way. Lebron, if you want to return to Cleveland and end your career where it started, that's great. Carmelo, if you want to see if New York is in any better position than they are now, then fine. We'll continue on and sign whichever of our draft picks is most worthy of a max deal. We're more than confident that we drafted at least one superstar of our own, but it's hard for us to tell which one yet.
(First slide: Michael Carter-Williams)
Sam Hinkie: MCW. Rookie of the Year. 16 points and 6 assists per game. The scoring total is a bit inflated, but the assists are undervalued. Michael played with a team of bench players last season. Thaddeus Young was the only other legitimate starter, but he's gone. If he had any players around him who knew how to finish, that Assists total could creep up to double digits.
Sam Hinkie: You guys certainly qualify as guys who can handle their fair share of the scoring load.
(Carmelo wakes up.)
Sam Hinkie: If Michael can handle about ten points per game, we should be okay. He can go off for twenty if you give him enough room, but he's really more of a distributor. He doesn't have much range, but with you two as Sixers, it wouldn't matter. As I said, he'd rather pass anyway. He's Rajon Rondo. He is more than capable on the defensive end. He's long for a point guard which is why he was Top Ten in Steals. He was also #1 in Blocks for Point Guards. It's not much, but it's a nice feather.
(Next slide: Nerlens Noel)
Sam Hinkie: Nerlens Noel, consensus #1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. 10 points, 9 rebounds, 4 blocks per game. We got his shot pretty consistent from 8 - 10 feet, but he can't go out much farther. We're hoping for 70% from the line. He'll be about 60% from the field since we won't run the offense through him and most of his points will come from putbacks and dunks. If Nerlens can handle about ten points per game, we should be okay. He's Ben Wallace. He'll go off for twenty if he's playing against a softer Center, but his calling card is really as a defender, and he'll snag you around 12 rebounds per game.
Sam Hinkie: And even though we will be picking in the 20s come draft time, we'll have reinforcements coming each of the next two seasons.
(Carmelo looks a bit more interested. Lebron is stoic.)
Sam Hinkie: If you want to win, you have to get serious. Do you want to be in the best shape of your life??
(Next slide: Artist's rendering of new practice facility)
Sam Hinkie: 100,000 square feet. Double the size of the next largest facility and the envy of the league. We break ground in October. We have the best sports science strength and conditioning people in the business. Do you want to play the team-oriented style predicated on ball movement that just won it's fifth title in 16 seasons?? We can give you someone who spent a decade helping to refine it's principles.
(Lights dim. Spotlights shine on the door. Extreme's "Play With Me" blares from speakers as Brett Brown walks though the door amid fireworks.)
"Do yooooouuuuu (do yooooouuuuu) wannnnnaaaaa play-ay"
Brett Brown: Hi, fellas. Nice to see you here.
(Brett Brown stands silently beside Carmelo.)
Sam Hinkie: Do you want a GM who knows what he doing?? Listen guys, I don't want to stroke my ego, but I cleared over $25 million in cap space in 12 months and no one's said a thing. They're too busy bitching about us "tanking" for a better draft pick. We have four solid prospects on cost-controlled deals. That was just an appetizer. I could talk to you about analytics, but that would be boring. You don't have to know what it all means. That's why I'm here. All you have to do is trust me when I say that these numbers are accurate and that they have value. The same principles have led to three World Series titles and four Stanley Cups. This is where the NBA is going. This is where sports, as a whole, are going. You can either be in front of the curve or behind it. This is your legacy, not mine.
(Carmelo looks much more interested. Lebron is still stoic.)
Sam Hinkie: Do you want to be icons??
(Lights dim. Spotlights shine on the door. Pennywise's "Bro Hymn" blares from speakers as Ed Snider walks though the door with a briefcase.)
Ed Snider: Hi, fellas. Nice to see you here. Sam told me to cut the bull-crap, so that's what I'm going to do. ESPN is on it's way out. NBC will be the new home for live sports in America. And if you don't know what that means, it's that NBC is Comcast and Comcast is Philadelphia. And Comcast is sports. February 2011: 4-year deal with horse racing's Triple Crown. April 2011: 10-year deal with the NHL. And let's not forget the #1 show on television, Sunday Night Football. It's not hard to see why we're doing this, guys. You already know. As two guys who are on the road a lot, surely you've integrated DVR into your television culture.
(Lebron and Carmelo silently nod.)
Ed Snider: More and more people are doing it everyday. It'll be in 50% of homes by the end of this year. There's only one genre that's watched in real-time more than 99% of the time. Sports. People need to see those games live. There's too much risk in finding out the score by the time it's over. Advertisers are well aware, and have been for some time. If there's no delayed viewing, there's no opting-out of commercials, so our advertising revenue for live sporting events is through the roof. We even launched NBC Sports Network a few years back. We need content. You can be that content. This is where the NBA is going. This is where sports, as a whole, are going. You can either be in front of the curve or behind it. This is your legacy, not mine. Side-by-side with the NHL, you will be the crown jewels of our new network.
Ed Snider: .....but only if you play here. The television deal expires two years from now. The league has an exclusive negotiating window with which to strike a new deal with it's television partners, but once that window closes, it's up for grabs for whoever wants it. With our new network and Fox Sports 1 in the fold, there's never been a better time for the NBA to be involved in a bidding war. Timing is everything in business. Comcast will certainly be major players when the contract hits the open market whether you're here or somewhere else. Or maybe we won't be. CBS doesn't have much interest in professional sports. They do fancy themselves as the tiffany network. I suppose you could strike a deal with Fox, the lowest rated of the four major networks. Or you can flounder on the sinking ship of ESPN.
(Lebron and Carmelo gulp.)
Ed Snider: We had to sell the franchise a few years back, but rest assured, we're still very interested in the Sixers. We broadcast your games and we need viewers. We're also the landlord in this building you call home. We need more eyes on the screens and more asses in the seats. That's our bottom line. Maybe then we could pony up a few extra dollars to be the highest bid for the broadcast rights. How much higher can we go?? Oh, I don't know. ESPN knows we're coming for them, so I'm thinking they make some sort of panic move and overbid if you sign here. That just means we have to go higher. That means more money for the league. You want to help the league revitalize the NBA product in the fourth-largest city in America, while increasing your brand awareness and ring count at the same time, right?? This is really one of those everybody wins scenarios, guys. The only losers would be the rest of the Eastern Conference. October 2012: 3-year deal with English Premier League Soccer. July 2013: 10-year deal with NASCAR. May 2014: Locking up the Olympics for the next two decades. Trust me, Comcast has no problem pursuing the broadcasting rights if we want to.
(Ed Snider opens briefcase full of money of an undisclosed amount)
Ed Snider: We're more than equipped to do so, but this....
(Ed Snider slams briefcase shut.)
Ed Snider:.....is not for you.
(Ed Snider sits down.)
Sam Hinkie: There's nobody saying we can't rebuild and try to win now at the same time. When Lebron and Carmelo become available, this is what you do. People want to see superstars. The team can't be showcased on the national stage if they suck. Teams need superstars to succeed, and we think we already have a few. Now we're just trying to get two more. The rebuild is a great alternative, but we're going for the home-run here. It's a home-run play for you, for us, and for Comcast. This could be the escalation of what is already a terrific relationship.
(Shows brief montage of Lebron hosting SNL, Carmelo's guest spot on Law And Order: SVU, as well as the medal ceremony of the 2012 Olympics)
Sam Hinkie: You're already a part of the Comcast family. We're just trying to take that to the next level. But, if you're still uneasy about this whole situation, don't be sad.
(Lights dim. Spotlights shine on the door. Pharrell's "Happy" blares from speakers as Pharrell Williams walks though the door through a series of laser beams.)
"because I'm happpppyyyyy"
Pharrell Williams: Hi, fellas. Nice to see you here. They asked me to be here to tell you a little bit about the Comcast/NBC/Universal family. Trust me, it's great. They have, like, a dozen different networks. Yesterday, I was hanging out with Jim Cramer on CNBC's Mad Money. I'm not sure why I was on the show, but I was there. He's a Philly guy, so I told him I was coming here today and he got really excited that Philadelphia was getting a professional basketball team. I told him that there already was one, but he didn't believe me. What a nut!! You see, if there's one thing that Comcast is really good at, it's self-promotion. I'm literally on every channel. I even got a judge's gig on The Voice this year!! Next week, I'm going snowboarding in New Zealand to tape a snowboarding segment on Universal HD. I didn't even know that was a channel, but sure enough it's there. I think you guys are ticketed for the new sports network. They told me about a new reality series during the Summer months. They just gave me the press release. NBC's The Baller follows Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony as they take a group of ten undrafted rookies who are competing for a D-League contract with the 87ers. Doesn't that sound great?? Seth Meyers, Kenan Thompson, and I are signed up to be guest referees in the first episode!! Since I got here, I've won four Grammys and I've produced soundtracks for two children's movies that made me so much more family-friendly that it led to a crossover into the mainstream that was more successful than I could have possibly imagined. Before, I was just a big-name producer, but now I'm one of the most likable dudes in the entire industry. Comcast was a big part of that. It was a great move for my career. Timing is everything in business. Just imagine what they can do for you guys!! If you want to be billion-dollar athletes, this is really your best shot. I'll even see you at the first game. I got front-row seats with Kevin Hart. I was on the phone just now and he's the most pumped up he's ever been in his life. He said that he wants to be the prototype for fake Sixers fans across the country. What a goofball!! I'm even headed into the studio with John Tesh in September. He's remixing "Roundball Rock" with Nick Cannon and I. Anyway, I can't think of a better spot for each of your brands. Take it from me. I'm really, um, happy.
(Pharrell Williams picks up briefcase and exits.)
Sam Hinkie: Now listen, guys. You can go to Chicago. You can go to Houston. You can go to Cleveland. You can go to Los Angeles. But you can't both go there together, and each move would require some sort of salary-cap gymnastics that would deprive the team of assets. Maybe you can team up in Miami, but they won't have much money for anyone else. A Big Four could work down there, but think about things a few years down the line. Chris will be in his mid-30s and who knows how much longer Dwyane's legs can hold up. You might be able to squeak out an extra title. Two would be a real stretch. We'll have a group of kids who will be entering their prime, not leaving it. This is your legacy, not mine. If you're still not interested, then okay. We won't talk about what we discussed here today, and we certainly won't mention the hundreds of millions and potentially billions of dollars that you cost the league, not to mention yourselves. When I say that the largest financial windfall in NBA history rests on this decision, that's not an exaggeration, but I can't force you.
(Lights dim. Spotlights shine on the door. Lloyd Banks' "My House" blares from speakers as Commissioner Adam Silver walks though the door through a plume of smoke.)
"This is myyyyy house. You 'gon do what I tell you to do. When you're in myyyyy house, under my roof you follow my rules. This is myyyyy house."
Adam Silver: Hi, fellas. Nice to see you.
(Adam Silver stands silently beside Lebron.)
Sam Hinkie: We're committed to cultivating a young nucleus to help achieve your destiny and set you up to be successful for as long as you want to be here. Carmelo, we've arranged a car service so that you can still live in Manhattan. It'll be a two-hour commute. It's about twice as long as the commute up to the Knicks' practice facility in Greenburgh. We'll try and get you out of here by 3:00, so that you can beat the traffic. Lebron, we've assembled brochures of townships containing the best school districts within a 50-mile radius. Carmelo, this is open to you as well if you're interested in re-locating. Gentlemen, with a team-first, defensive style in the Spurs mold.....
(Brett Brown silently nods.)
Sam Hinkie: …..and clearing the requisite cap room per our agreement.
(Lebron James silently nods.)
Sam Hinkie: .....and a new TV deal with NBC once the broadcasting rights hit the open market.....
(Adam Silver silently nods.)
Sam Hinkie: .....Philadelphia is the best place for you both on and off the court. Wilt?? Julius?? AI?? You can blow those guys out of the water. We make it happen on July 4th weekend.
Ed Snider: Say it.
Sam Hinkie: What??
Ed Snider: I want him to say it.
Adam Silver: Who?? Me??
Ed Snider: Yes, you. Say it.
Adam Silver: No!!
Ed Snider: Say it!!
Adam Silver: I'm......uh......
Ed Snider: NO LEBRON AND CARMELO?? THEN, NO DEAL!! NOW SAY IT!!
Adam Silver: I'm.....sorry about Bynum.
Ed Snider: You're damn right you are.
(Ed Snider walks to the door and turns.)
Ed Snider: MY HOUSE!!
(Ed Snider slams door).
Sam Hinkie: Well, gentlemen.....
(Sam Hinkie slips near-max contracts in front of each of them and stares straight into their souls.)
Sam Hinkie: Timing is everything in business.
(Lebron and Carmelo look at the contracts.)
Sam Hinkie: Guys??
(Lebron and Carmelo look at each other.)
Brett Brown: Guys??
(Lebron and Carmelo look at the trio.)
Adam Silver: Guys??
Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony (in unison): .....to be continued.....