Thursday, May 05, 2005

The smart guy

Can you believe I'm blogging again? See what a little free time can do to a person.

This one is a little different. The other day I saw Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room (warning, the website is complex). It is a limited release film, so I'm not sure if it is playing near you, but it is very interesting. Though it is produced by fellow blogger and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban -- and he doesn't need the money from this low-level endorsement -- it is an interesting flick. I'm no business major so I didn't understand all the lingo (it's a documentary), but I was struck by the pompous attitude of the company's top executives even as it was obvious they were going down in flames.

Which is why I'm blogging about this. The Enron leaders' attitude reminded me, cryptically and cynically, of new Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and his cronies. Perhaps it is just the way highly successful millionaires handle things in the modern business world. Make no mistake, I'm not saying that Gilbert's business is shady like Enron, though I have trouble understanding the value of an interest-only mortgage. I openly say I wish I had about $500,000 to invest with Gilbert's venture capitalist firm about seven years ago.

But the brash swagger of Enron's execs and the belief that they were smarter than everyone else was their downfall. I'm not suggesting Gilbert is setting himself up for fall, but he's certainly confident despite the huge task in front of him. Two of his co-owners have the nicknames "Search" and "Destroy." I need not say more.

Just yesterday, Nets owner Bruce Ratner, who is to real estate what Gilbert & his gang are to mortgages, admitted to the ravenous New York media that he was unprepared to be an owner when he took over last summer. And he didn't have to hire and coach and general manager, either.

In fact, Gilbert has already made as many or more important big decisions than any owner (except perhaps Lakers owner Jerry Buss) this last season and he's been in control barely two months. Yet he's not shy about taking swings at the media or to assuring everyone that once his people are in place things will be different. Maybe he's right. But boy, I couldn't shake an eerie feeling during that movie.

Either way, I recommend it.

p.s. I found it comical that Jason Williams got fined 10 large for screaming and taking a pen away from a reporter the other night. I have seen things happen between reporters and players that were worse. In fact, Jeff McInnis' treatment of me this season was worse. But it didn't happen in front of television cameras and wasn't on ESPN like Williams' incident.

Take care,
Brian
bwindhor@thebeaconjournal.com.