Charles Barkley Calls WNBA, Which Loses $10 Million Yearly, ‘A Great Product’

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by Selwyn Duke of

Is basketball great Charles Barkley a socialist? He certainly talked a bit like one recently, though it wouldn’t really be fair to thus label him.

It’s more accurate to say he’s not very bright.

Complaining recently on something called The Bird and Taurasi Show that Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) players shouldn’t have to resort to offseason, international-league competition to supplement their incomes, Barkley criticized American business for not recognizing the WNBA’s supposed value.

“‘The WNBA is a great product, but y’all should not have to do to these c[***] countries to make money,’” Sports Illustrated wrote Sunday, relating Barkley’s words. “‘These American companies should put y’all in commercials, they should partner with y’all. …I’m asking these American companies to step up so y’all don’t have to go play in these other countries.’”

A “great product”? Unless there’s some slang usage of “great” I’m unaware of — such as “bad” meaning good — one has to wonder about Barkley’s claim. The WNBA has lost an average of $10 million a year since its inception, which means it’s approximately now a quarter billion in the red; it only exists because the NBA props it up.

This said and in fairness, the market doesn’t recognize every great product as such. There was a restaurant on Route 22 in upstate NY that served one of the two best examples of Mexican food I’ve ever had. But the eatery, sadly, didn’t last; its middle-of-nowhere location and poor ambiance sealed its fate.

But there’s a difference. That restaurant wasn’t subsidized for 26 years as a value-signaling project by a far more successful dining establishment and given, all during that time, significant TV exposure. The WNBA has been afforded every opportunity to succeed — but hasn’t.

So unless one believes the market is behaving stupidly in not supporting it, that sounds like the very definition of a bad product.

Nonetheless, Barkley thinks companies should “step up” and sink cash into a venture that bleeds money like some aging ex-jocks do brain cells. What’s his next big idea? Investing in Silicon Valley Bank? Partnering with Sam Bankman-Fried? Is the WNBA essentially the electric cars of the sports world?


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