Competitive Advantages: NBA

It’s interesting to hear successful people talk about physical location as a competitive advantage. We should probably hear more of it.

George Lucas left Hollywood for San Francisco. Ken Burns lives in rural New England. Buffett is in Nebraska. Brent Beshore, successful in his own niche, operates in Missouri. All of these places are advantages, not disadvantages, to the participants.

Getting away from the cacophony of a major city helps someone do a certain kind of work. For these individuals, the loss of interactivity is offset by a new set of actions.

Daryl Morey spoke about this to Bill Simmons. Morey noted that in addition to no state taxes, Houston Texas had more to offer players. Great weather, fine recreation, good culture, and so on. In addition to dollars and moneyball, Morey has a large competitive advantage. I often wonder why the local Orlando Magic doesn’t offer more to their players about brand building, as one of the greatest brands in the world shares the same ‘magic.’

The nature of these competitive advantages came up in a podcast with Zach Lowe and Howard Beck who said (39:30):

I don’t think it’s fair to the fans when you treat every injury to every player like it’s a national security matter and the Nets have done that. That’s Sean Marks embodying the Spurs’ culture.

This is Marks’ mistake. He’s taken too much. While the Spurs have a great cultural reputation it was time-sensitive. The next great culture team will have to find the first principles and not the outcomes. It wasn’t that the Spurs kept things secret but that they did so for a reason. That’s the key, and it’s important to ask if that still matters.

At the 2019 Sloan Sports conference, Beck and Lowe were on a panel with Paul Pierce who said, “team style of play is created around their best player.” Any competitive advantage is contextual. The time and place matter just like the people and actions.

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