Friday, December 9, 2011

Nixed Trade May Spark an NBA Revolution

Apparently NBA Commissioner David Stern hasn't been paying close attention to international events, because if he had been, there is no way he would have nixed the trade sending Chris Paul to the Lakers.

Uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, as well as in cities across America, took aim at those with power.  And for the most part, the 'citizens' toppled those at the top.

David Stern just put a dictator-sized target on his back.

Stern threw the hammer down on a three team deal that would have moved Paul from New Orleans to Los Angeles.  The Hornets would have received Kevin Martin, Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, and a first round draft pick.  The other team in the deal, Houston, would have acquired Pau Gasol who would have helped fill their void at center after Yao Ming retired this summer.

The consensus among sports writers and analysts is that, for all parties involved, this was a pretty fair deal.

Paul wants to leave the Nola when his contract expires at the end of the season, so this was a way to help New Orleans cut its losses and have some pieces to build around in the future. 

The problem is the Hornets are owned by the NBA.  The league took over the franchise last year because the team's former ownership reportedly was operating with a $100-million deficit.  At the time, the move was necessary to keep professional basketball in New Orleans afloat, but now it has the potential to cause some Titantic-sized sinking.

Stern intercepted the trade because he believed doing so was in the best interest of the league.  In some ways, I agree with him.  Coming off of a lockout that was centered around leveling the playing field for small market teams, i.e New Orleans, Stern couldn't have one of the NBA's top superstars shipped to a top three market in exchange for players that may be solid, but not "stars."  (Gasol, a star, but would not have benefited NO). It would have been a public relations nightmare.

Stern reports to the NBA owners.  His allegiance is to them.  The majority of the owners are in non-marquee markets.  They want protection against the New York, LA's, and Miami's.  If the trade went through, these owners would have questioned Stern's entire summer of work.  They would have had a clear example of him favoring "dream teams" in dream markets.  Stern had to stop the trade or he would have lost the support of those who he works most closely with.

That doesn't make it right.

While Stern may report to the league's 30 owners, his primary responsibility is the overall health of the NBA.  I think it's safe to say, this is a decision that does more damage than good.

The players, whose respect for Stern was already less than Jared Allen's for Detroit, have no reason to believe the commissioner has their best interest in mind.

He is now viewed as Bobby Fischer putting pieces where he wants, when he wants.  That's a precedent that will hinder progress.

I personally don't like that players are dictating where they want to play.  I think it takes balance away from the league and does, in fact, hurt small market teams.  But, they have every right to do so.  The new collective bargaining agreement makes it advantageous for players to stay with their current teams which can offer them even more money than if they move to another franchise.

If a player is willing to take a pay cut to play with other greats in an effort to win a title, I can't berate them for that.  It's their right.  (LeBron, is a unique situation).

Stern's desire to have balance is a nice concept, but the reality is that the NBA has always been top heavy.  Since the 1980's, less than a dozen franchises have won championships.  In the 80's it was the Celtics, Lakers, 76ers, and Pistons.  In the 90s, the Pistons, Bulls, Rockets, and Spurs.  At the turn of the Millennium, it was again the Lakers, Spurs, Pistons, and Celtics, with the Heat and Mavericks sprinkled in the mix. 

Balance is a dream.  It doesn't exist.

Stern is overreaching trying to achieve that dream and in the process is tearing down the integrity of the league and alienating the players who make it great and, most importantly for him, sell tickets.

Like the dictators in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, Stern is trying to mold the league to fit his vision, but is ignoring the wants of those below him, the players, who may have finally had enough.

The end result will likely be chaos and an overthrow of power.  This may be the move that sets off an NBA revolution.

1 comment:

  1. Good Article...but, How much longer do we have to wait to get Jon B featuring 2pac "Are you Still Down" on the old school jam?