The Bombers turned to Billions

Published 10:00am Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Life occasionally throws you things from the past that give you pause in the present.  Such was the case a few days ago when I discovered a picture of my first basketball team the same day that the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team was reportedly sold for $2 Billion Dollars.
I have said before that normal folk don’t really understand numbers that large.  For most people my age, the first time they were exposed to a millionaire was on The Beverly Hillbillies. The second verse of the opening song of the television show went something like this:  “Well the first thing you know ol Jed’s a millionaire, Kinfolk said “Jed move away from there”.  Said “Californy is the place you ought to be”, So they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly…..
Hills, that is.  Swimmin pools, movie stars.
The Rec Center Bombers were part of Dothan’s Recreation Department in the 1960’s.
The teams were led by two people that had a huge impact on my brother’s life as well as mine; Doug Tew and Lowell Roundtree.   We played the area Junior High teams or “B” Teams.   I was in the 8th grade and about as tall as I am now, though considerably thinner.
We traveled on a bus, ate cheap hamburgers and showered in old school locker rooms that might or might not have had much hot water.  We learned to love the game just for the joy of playing.
Looking back on the old picture, I am ashamed I can’t remember a few of the names of those early friends.  I remember most, including my friend, Blake Green, who is no longer with us.  My brother, Ernest, was the ball boy.
The news of Donald Sterling’s forced sale of the Clippers is in stark contrast to the Bombers.   As in all big time sports today, money seems to dominate everything.  Sterling paid just $12.5 Million for the Clippers in 1981.  That was only 3 years before we built our first Hardee’s Restaurant.
Given the recent offer for the team by former Microsoft President Steve Balmer of $2 Billion Dollars, I have to wonder if I am in the wrong business.   If the Big Deluxe Burger that Hardee’s sold in 1984 in my first restaurant for $1.99 had the same return as the L.A. Clippers, it would sell today for $316.41, and that is without the combo or going large!
Sterling, recently identified as the most hated man in America, has done better with his basketball investment than if you had invested in Apple Computer at the same time.  Who says that basketball is just a game?   This is serious, big time money.
The next time you get a $5 Lunch Bag, be thankful that it didn’t cost you $795, which would be the price if it had appreciated like the Clippers.   Basketball?  No!  Big Business?  Yes.
In the meantime, if you want to see the true essence of the game of basketball, then find a team like the Rec Center Bombers.   Watch the joy of a kid in sinking a basket, making a free throw, or stealing the ball.
Congratulations to the Sterling family on their investment.   From the Bombers to Billions, I would just as soon take the Bombers for the love of the game.   Of course, the Sterlings will be taking their Billions to the bank.

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