Micky, Micky, Micky. You've got it all wrong.
Sports fans in this country do not want to see all the best players clustered on a few teams. They do not want teams from big, glamorous cities to win every single time.
Sports fans enjoyed the Green Bay Packers winning the Super Bowl. They got a kick out of the New Orleans Saints, too.
Sports fans reveled in that remarkable World Series between the Cardinals and the Rangers. They didn't need the Yankees or the Red Sox to savor every minute of Game 6.
Nobody here in the real world would have minded if LeBron James had stayed in Cleveland or if Chris Bosh had stayed in Toronto. They won't mind if Albert Pujols stays in St. Louis for the rest of his career.
I bring this up in the wake of a series of tweets from Micky Arison, the owner of the Miami Heat. He turned to Twitter to vent after the latest round of NBA labor talks collapsed.
To be clear: The lockout is lousy for everyone. Both sides have done plenty wrong. But nobody has been more wrong than Arison, the same owner who accelerated the current crisis by going out and buying The Dream Team.
From the tweets, it's clear Arison thinks that fans really want to see a small cluster of Dream Teams. He thinks the stratospheric ratings of last year's NBA Finals prove this.
But what do national TV ratings say about the health of the NBA across the broader country? What do they say about the health of the league in cities like Indianapolis, Sacramento and Detroit? What good do those TV ratings do for fans back in Cleveland or Toronto? How do they sustain franchises in New Orleans or Charlotte or Memphis?
Yes, if you create a league in which all the stars cluster in a few cities, the playoff ratings will tend to go up when those cities meet for a championship.
But do you think the NFL needs the Giants or the Jets or the Bears in the Super Bowl every year? No. Because in the NFL, you can find stars anywhere.
Aaron Rodgers is in Green Bay. Drew Brees is in New Orleans. Peyton Manning has played his entire career in Indianapolis. You never hear an NFL star say, "I need to get to a big-market team so I can win a championship."
The NBA used to be like this, too. It was one of the great things about the league. If a franchise was smart and/or lucky enough to draft Tim Duncan, John Stockton or Reggie Miller, it could count on their sticking around for a long time.
True, the NBA has also flourished because of some super teams through the decades. But those teams didn't become super because they were richer than everyone else. They became super because they were smarter. The Celtics drafted Larry Bird and traded for Kevin McHale. The Chicago Bulls drafted Michael Jordan and traded for Scottie Pippen. The model could work for anyone, anywhere.
No longer. Now the model works in a handful of cities. That, among other things, is what the NBA is trying to fix right now.
It's fashionable to dismiss "small market owners" as if they're a bunch of greedy, hard-line lunatics. But why do you think they became that way? You think the greedy lunatics just happened to land in the smaller markets? Or do you think they object to a system that really does make it harder for them to compete?
It's not good for a league when cities like Cleveland, Denver and Orlando can't hold on to stars. It's not good for a league when those stars have to migrate to the biggest cites in order to win.
This is not to say that all of the owners' current demands have to do with creating competitive balance. Some of it is a pure money grab.
But competitive balance is a real issue. If you had any doubts that some owners preferred the old system precisely because it gave them an unfair advantage, Arison's tweets would have disabused you of that.
This labor dispute is about a lot of things. But one of them is about the ability of smaller cities to compete over the long haul.
Arison would have those cities sit and watch his Dream Team on TV. It's the NBA version of "let them eat cake."