Taylor's Game

The other billionaire owner's bid for a "glamour franchise."

The potential risks in Taylor's gambit are probably on a par with the rewards. But if Garnett tears up his knee, or the Wolves can't sign either Marbury or Tom Gugliotta next year, and the franchise somehow goes up in flames, there is some integrity to the procession of people who will suffer the consequences. Most at risk are obviously Taylor and the other shareholders who own the team, and while that is entirely appropriate, Taylor still deserves credit for not trying to prefigure a way to stick taxpayers with the bill. Corporate patrons (sponsors and luxury box-holders) and individual season ticket-holders are also on the hook somewhat, but for the former it's a business expense, and for the latter it's a more expensive but probably higher-quality (even in a worst-case scenario) variation on the Wolves' first five or six seasons, when the likes of Scott Roth or Stacy King actually received significant playing time.

The most obvious downside to the Garnett deal is that higher ticket prices effectively gentrify the crowds at the Target Center, hindering access for middle-class fans and their children. But even here, there is a silver lining: The predominant exposure most fans have to the NBA is through television. The splendor of Garnett's game (and the notoriety of his contract) and the ascendance of the Wolves as a glamorous draw will undoubtedly increase their media exposure. It's not far-fetched to imagine KG and his mates someday being as ubiquitous as Jordan and the Bulls on Sportscenter, Inside Stuff, and the cable and network NBA games of the week. And if they're not, well, odds are they'll be some tickets for sale at below face value outside the Target Center, underwritten by the gutsy ambitions of Glen Taylor and the enthusiasm of people who willingly went along for the ride.

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