If Coon looks more the part of office-dweller than NBA revolutionary, there’s a reason for it. He spends his days in the information technology offices at UC Irvine, managing major projects and evangelizing business analytics. But over the course of more than 15 years, he’s used his nights to become an indispensable part of the NBA fabric, operating the go-to reference used by teams, players, agents and reporters. When it comes to understanding the rules that get your favorite players to and from your favorite teams, Coon is the person people turn to.
His “CBA FAQ” has become a staple in web browsers around the league, breaking down the 154,274-word collective bargaining agreement – approximately the same length as “The Grapes of Wrath” – that lays out the financial rules for the NBA into more palatable terms. Before Golden State general manager Bob Myers won the 2015 Executive of the Year award and built a team that won a single-season record 73 games and signed the biggest free agent available in Kevin Durant, he was merely a law student with a thirst for NBA knowledge. To quench it, he tried to study the CBA. “Anyone who knows and has tried to do it, it’s very dense,” Myers said. “Larry was the first person to break it down into layman’s terms, into ways that were succinct, efficient.
Coon’s original FAQ, which published in 1999, was a constantly evolving project, being updated in between the naps of his newborn daughter Megan. People who were interested had questions, and they turned to Coon for answers. He called the league office, asking questions about the CBA. No one, at least no one as enthusiastic and as smart as Coon, had called and been so inquisitive. “He had more of an appetite than most for that kind of stuff,” NBA deputy general counsel Dan Rube said.
Ryan Ward: For those tripping about the reports of one-year $8M for Jianlian, this should put your mind at ease: “Mike Bresnahan: NBA source calls Yi Jianlian’s contract “very creative.” Non-guaranteed vet’s min deal for $1.1 mill can increase to $8 mill w/ incentives. Eric Pincus: @RyanWardLA except that’s not legal.
Q: Will you be back at the collective-bargaining table next year? Adam Silver: Well, we’re back at the table already. While we and the union have agreed that we’re not going to talk publicly about the substance of our discussions, neither side has made it a secret that we’re talking and that the goal is, of course, to avoid any type of work stoppage whatsoever. I feel fairly confident that, based on the tone of these discussions thus far, based on the sense of trust and the amount of respect among the parties, that we should be able to avoid any kind of public labor issue and that the things we need to get done will get done behind closed doors.
Q: The executive director of the players’ union, Michele Roberts, gave an interview where she called salary caps un-American. What is your relationship with her like? Adam Silver: The communication is very direct between Michele and me. As a still relatively new head of the union, I think she is establishing herself, and it’s not for me to say what she should be saying publicly or otherwise. What I care most about is what is said across the bargaining table. We have built a relationship. We’re in the process of growing that relationship. I have tremendous respect for her. She has never made any issues personal. And to the extent she’s said things publicly, I think she’s made a distinction between what may be a personal point of view and a position that the union is taking.
Q: Early on, you talked about one of your top priorities being moving the minimum age for players up from 19 to 20 years old. Is that still something you want? Adam Silver: It’s still something I care a lot about. I’m also a realist. Given that Michele has said her preference would be for an 18-year-old minimum age, my sense is that it’s not something that’s going to change in the short term. And by the way, I’ve always said I understand the other side of the issue, about a young man’s opportunity to make a living. But my view has always been that we’d be a better league if players came into the draft at 20 instead of 19.