As the self-appointed chronicler of the best of the worst of professional basketball, I would be doing you, the readers, a disservice if I failed to report on the dispute brewing between the National Basketball Association and World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. So sayeth the press:
Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are scheduled to be at the Pepsi Center in Denver next Monday night.
Problem is, so are John Cena and a bunch of wrestlers -- and they called it first.
World Wrestling Entertainment said it is booked at the arena for an episode of Monday Night Raw, the same night the Nuggets are slated to host the Lakers in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
WWE chairman Vince McMahon told The Associated Press he doesn't believe there was "any malice, just ineptness," on the part of Kroenke Sports, which owns the team and the building, but can't tolerate the company "just simply throwing us out on our ear."
Without a quick resolution, McMahon plans to send his trucks to Denver.
"That's what we intend to do," he said. "We're going to show up."
WWE spokesman Robert Zimmerman said the organization secured the Pepsi Center last Aug. 15 and has already sold more than 10,000 tickets for the event. He says the organization expects a sellout, with tickets ranging from $20 to $70.
Naturally, the NBA is being its typically arrogant self:
"The Nuggets and the WWE understand that the date of Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals cannot be changed," NBA senior vice president Mike Bass said. "We are confident that the Pepsi Center and the WWE will resolve their scheduling conflict."
What a joke. There is nothing in the world of professional sports that "cannot be changed." (Seriously.) Which means the translation is: The NBA is more important, so the WWE has to surrender its legal rights to the arena...period. And make no mistake, the contractual ink has long since dried:
Zimmerman said the Pepsi Center confirmed in March with the WWE that the organization wanted to keep the May 25 date, and sent a contract on April 15 -- the final night of the regular season -- which WWE signed and returned. Tickets went on sale April 11.
World Wrestling Entertainment’s live, internationally televised broadcast, WWE Monday Night Raw (USA Network, 9:00 PM ET) to take place at the Pepsi Center in Denver next Monday, May 25 is in jeopardy of being cancelled by the Denver Nuggets. WWE and the Denver Nuggets are currently at an impasse in resolving a scheduling debacle by the team and the Pepsi Center. A sell-out crowd is expected to attend the WWE show at the same time the Denver Nuggets are slated to square off against the Los Angeles Lakers for Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Finals. WWE has held the May 25 date with the Pepsi Center since Aug. 15, 2008.
"Even though the Denver Nuggets had a strong team this year and were projected to make the playoffs, obviously Nuggets and Pepsi Center owner Stan Kroenke did not have enough faith in his own team to hold the May 25 date for a potential playoff game," said WWE Chairman Vince McMahon.
And here's some added info from Basketbawful reader Karc:
More fuel from McMahon. On ESPNews, he was interviewed by one of his former employees, Jonathon Coachman (which I can almost bet ESPN did intentionally to try to unravel McMahon), about the situation. He pretty much buried the Pepsi Center management for having no faith in the Denver Nuggets again, but this time, he offered the owner of the Nuggets a Kobe Byrant Laker jersey (as if the folks in Colorado weren't angry enough), claiming that he must not be much of a fan of his own team. I guess he thinks he can channel Mark Cuban by trying to get into the heads of the Nuggets.
And yes, Vince made the steel cage challenge to Stan. ESPN should pay WWE 10 percent of the ad revenue for this series and that match. I promise I'll try to objectively look at this tomorrow, because I cannot stop laughing right now.
I'm not really sure how the legalities work in a situation like this. To me, it seems pretty clear-cut: The WWE has a contract to use the Pepsi Center for the night in question. And yet McMahon actually sounded somewhat defeated when he said: "When you do have a date, you plan everything around it...we may be holding an event in a parking lot somewhere." Does the NBA really have the right to boot the WWE out of the building?