NBA Commissioner David Stern is going to insist for as long as he can that the league has a commitment to Vancouver. What commish wants to look like Al Davis or, for that matter, Georgia Frontiere? If Missouri's own Bill and Nancy Laurie get the necessary approval of three-quarters of the owners for their purchase of the team, likely by the end of the month, then all the Lauries need is the approval of a simple majority of the owners to move the team to 14th Street and Clark Avenue.
That move will happen in a year or two if the Lauries can prove they're losing money and if they start spending cash to enhance the product. Last year, the Grizzlies' owner claimed to have lost $20 million, what with a last-place team, the player lockout and the poor exchange rate on the Canadian dollar. Approving the move by a wealthy owner to an unserved market with a large catchment area (the closest teams are Indiana, Dallas, Denver and Minneapolis) shouldn't be a stretch. Even Stern publicly commented that relocation for the Spurs was a possibility if San Antonio voters didn't approve a new arena. Apparently commitment is a term open to several definitions.
The biggest advantage the Lauries have is that they'll own the building and both teams. The few people who drop the Blues for the Grizzlies still will be paying the Lauries for their tickets.
The first preview of this coming attraction is Friday when St. Louis University one-year-and-out star Larry Hughes returns to Kiel as the Philadelphia 76ers play the New Jersey Nets in an exhibition game. The 76ers' Allen "the Answer" Iverson, the shortest man ever to lead the league in scoring, was on The Chris Rock Show a couple of weeks ago and made one comment that probably had David Stern cringing. When Rock asked Iverson -- who did time for a brawl in a bowling alley years ago -- whether he knew any white people, Allen laughed and answered, "My lawyers." Yes. We'll love this game.