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.
It appears that since the NBA is playing hardball, McMahon (surprise!) is prepared to play it right back. Here's an article from the official WWE Web site:

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.

Notable quotes: "He (Stan Kroenke, the owner) should be arrested for impersonating a good business man." This coming from a guy who made one his wrestlers literally kiss his ass on live TV.

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?

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Anonymous Sun Devil said...
This year's dunk contest = WWE

All the commercials featuring puppet Lebron and Kobe/NBA pushing hard for a Kobe/Lebron matchup = WWE

Blogger Jason Mann said...
WWE knew there was a chance there'd be an NBA game there when they decided to put Raw there. They're being whiny babies. I say this as a huge wrestling and NBA fan.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
anyone also notice that the spokesperson for the NBA is robert zimmerman, bob dylan's real name. we have a star studded ordeal.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
What the hell is the use of a contract anymore? i remember back in the day when it was a legal binding document.

WWE had it reserved since august 15th, 2008. I don't see how they could possibly not be allowed to use it. The NBA writes up the schedules as the teams make it to the next round, just play game 4 the next day, jesus

Blogger Will said...
The only way to resolve this is to allow both events happen simultaneously. If so, expect the announcing to something like this:
"Kobe goes up for the lay-in and... OH MY GOD! Triple H comes out of nowhere with a folding chair and smashes Kobe in the face! That was totally uncalled for!"

"Well, Jim, that's why he's called The Game. He's always playing mind games with you. Now Kobe has got to think twice before going to the hole."

Anonymous AK Dave said...
At least the referees don't have to worry about who wins out.

Don't the NBA and WWE use the same officiating crews?

Blogger chris said...
Gee, just a few days ago, Bawful and I had a epic discussion here in commentz about NES Pro Wrestling...and then _THIS_ happens?


Blogger Viscant said...
I was getting all set to make a Kobe-in-the-nWo joke complete with black and white feather boa and penciled in beard, but I guarantee Simmons has probably already gone there given his wrestling love and Kobe hate.

I think this story is really interesting because everybody assumes that WWE is going to back down (perhaps after being given a few piles of cash as compensation), but given their fade from relevance it really seems like Vince has his teeth set into this. Plus if we want to go legal, I'm no lawyer or anything but doesn't it seem like WWE is in the right here? They have the contract after all and I doubt there's anything written in where they can be bumped. Plus everybody knows the NBA can flex their schedule as seen with the Spurs rodeo road trip, or even with the Lakers, how they flex start times to deal with Lakers/Clippers/Kings having simultaneous dates.

Hate to say it, but I think if Vince really wants to make a bear of himself (and he does), he's going to win this one. This should be interesting, more interesting than either of the conference finals series.
Lakers in 5
Cavs in 6.

Blogger KNEE JERK NBA said...
Stern being shady? Shocker.

I hope Cena runs on the court and KO's Kenyon Martin.

Anonymous Sun Devil said...
Ron Artest had to stay in the playoffs somehow!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Clearly this was planned. Kenyon Martin and Mark Cuban have been going at it for days, and the NBA wants to give them a chance to clear the air in the ring.

Anonymous Wormboy said...

OK, bets on a "Rodzilla" appearance?

I'm not a lawyer either, but it seems cut and dried in favor of WWE. Yes, cash will exchange hands, especially since this series promises to be a good one.

Also, I'm guessing the WWE milks this for all the free publicity it can get. Why not? Joke sport,joke booking, joke legal snafu. WWE wins.

Blogger Unknown said...
I'm calling it now...Blake Griffin is going to be a bust because the Clips just got the #1 pick in the draft.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Seriously, how bad does that suck for Blake Griffin? The first thing in his NBA career was to dodge that pit, and he couldn't do it. Talk about Stage 1-1 Fail (

I look forward to watching him learn how to shoot 3s from Zach Randolph, block shots like Zach Randolph, and play D from Zach Randolph. Come to think of it, is there anything the big marshmallow can't teach?

Anonymous Giacomo said...
whilst they do have a legally binding contract, this in reality provides them very little guarantee of anything.

If they cannot reach a compromise, the nuggets can simply breach the contract and exclude the WWE from the venue. The result of this would be that Kroenke would have to pay damages which would consist of some combination of: loss of profit damages (the expected profit WWE expected to receive from the event) and expenditure damages (the amount of money already spent).

There is a rule against double recovery, so WWE would probably try and receive whatever is the greater of these two amounts. However, WWE is under an obligation to mitigate any loss they might suffer, so that means they must take all reasonable steps to minimise any loss they would face.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Could it be that the NBA in it's contracts makes sure it has the right to play its games in its arenas even if anything else is scheduled there? Read the small print, Vince. Read all your contract and if at the end of the regular season you think there's no chance an NBA game will be scheduled when you play, sign it. Otherwise, choose a different date or location. I mean, PHOENIX isn't that far off.

Anyways, there's a big question these days: WILL THE CLIPPERS BLOW IT? AGAIN?

WV: ponet: pondering poet? pwning poet?

Blogger Nick Flynt said...
My Clippers are preparing themselves, as we speak, to ruin Blake Griffin's hopes and dreams by drafting him.

Do names like Olowakandi and Manning ring a bell? If he isn't injured then he will bust.

Comical Jewish man Mike Greenberg says that he thinks he will be a solid player Right From the Staaaarrrt (it's a hard life, two lovers together - It's A Hard Life, Freddy Mercury).

Clearly, any picks Greeny makes will be fail, so I fully expect to continue loving the awful Clippers as a gay blogger is their best defense in the online media, and porn stars attend their games.

That's California!

W.V. - billsy

Like ballsy, but for ducks.

Blogger DiscoHands said...
Unintentional Dirty Comment Machine (Chauncey Billups):

"I wish we could rewind the game a little bit and at the end I wish he could have gotten his hands on a few more balls on the last few possessions because he was going so good," Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups said.

Blogger chris said...
NarSARSist - Don't forget that the Clippers had one of two known Super Mario Galaxys this year, so Griffin will learn the art of 60-seconds-or-less 8-bit video gaming in the Staples Center hallway.

Anonymous Wormboy said...
God I felt sorry for Griffin. I thought he took it like a man in the interview. Me, I would have been weeping uncontrollably.

Oh, and I like the David Stern interview: "The NBA doesn't lose smackdowns." That Emperor Palpatine thing is really working well for him.