Spano Speaks About “Big Shot”
Added by Joey Delgado on October 25, 2013.
Dan Le Batard is still wondering.
I am not.
John Spano, the subject of ESPN’s latest 30 for 30 film that aired Tuesday night, made a radio appearance Friday on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. The fun-loving, affable host had promised a grilling and perhaps came up a bit short in that regard. But Le Batard did ask some pointed questions and received some decent answers.
Still, Le Batard was looking for one more. The same one I’d been seeking after watching “Big Shot” – the title of the ESPN program directed by Islander superfan and actor Kevin Connolly.
“I don’t understand the pathology,” Le Batard said on the air after the interview. “I’m just fascinated. I really don’t understand. I really, honestly don’t understand how someone like that sleeps on a mattress filled with his lies.”
It was a question that he certainly tried to address with Spano, who had called in for the interview. But the guest mostly stuck to the same script we saw in “Big Shot” – continually talking about how close he was to getting the deal done.
I have to admit I was wondering the same thing until listening to Spano on the radio. Now it’s a little more clear.
Spano, for his part, has been consistent in saying he was “close” to making it all work. In his mind, it wasn’t necessarily a fraud – as in an illegal or immoral act. To Spano, it’s more about tricky details and dangerous waters he had to navigate through because the end would justify the means. It was a simple act of risk assessment, not of morality.
To his credit, Spano did attempt to make that point to Le Batard.
“You’re missing the point,” he told the host. “I wasn’t able to get the other two transactions … If all those things happened, the deal would have gotten closed. I had a game plan to try and get the thing done.”
And that’s what Spano remains focused on.
One of his few regrets was that he enjoyed the ride a bit too much, he said on the show and in the film. The notoriety, the partying, the good times distracted him from working on key relationships that could’ve landed the funding he was short.
“I think I lost my focus,” he told Le Batard.
It’s all business to Spano. There is no real right or wrong here.
There are no comments from Spano that he feels badly about something. That he knows it was wrong. That he’s ashamed of his behavior.
Just the facts.
In Spano’s mind, if he had been successful and closed the deal, there probably would’ve been more opportunities to pay back the creditors. Or at least, the opportunity to raise the funds from perhaps focusing on the team and bringing back the fans.
If the team had truly been his and he was operating it successfully, everything would have worked and everyone would’ve been happy.
In truth, it’s an interesting question: If the loans were being paid back, the creditors were getting their money and the interest from the loans, the team was improving, the fans were back … would it really matter?
Whether or not you are ethically disturbed by the actions and/or justifications of Spano, keep one thing in mind. It’s the world according to Spano – like it or lump it.
The failed sale is arguably the first time that descriptions of the team’s fortunes went from “being down” to “laughingstock.”
If you take a look at the timeline of events, the Islanders were only a few years removed from the biggest goal of David Volek’s life and a historic comeback that stirred the entire sports world.
Sure, the awful fisherman uniforms already had been introduced and they’d experienced the awfulness of finishing in 7th place. But Ziggy Palffy was a bright spot and represented hope. They had the Fab Four of Scott Lachance, Kenny Jonsson, Bryan McCabe and Bryan Berard. Things may have been bad but the franchise was not necessarily perceived as Keystone Cops on ice until the unbelievable and comical story of ownership fraud came along.
Think about it. If you take out the crazy ownership issues – including the Milstein and Gluckstern era – you have a team that was up and down: Up in the early ’90s, down in the late ’90s, surging in the early 2000s, declining for a few years toward the end of that decade and now once again surging.
That is a far cry from the Los Angeles Clippers history.