I respect Bryant Gumbel’s opinion and agree with every point he made. You probably thought I was going to follow that up with a stern (pun intended) reason as to why I thought his statements were a crock of bologna. Then maybe I was going to go into a paragraph or two as to why the players should be grateful for their opportunity in the league in the first place.
They should be lucky a man like David Stern who has their interest at heart is also working for the owners, so they have the best of both worlds. I guess they should also be happy with how he and the owners are attempting to impose rules and sanctions on the league’s finances so that mid-level and lower-level athletes will not be able to sustain their jobs for longer than a few months out of a season.
In a recent article, I wrote how it was odd and ridiculous that a player like Baron Davis was set to receive a $14 million pay-year for the upcoming season. I stand firmly by that opinion. Davis is a mid-level player that should not be granted that large clasp of money for what he has accomplished with either the Los Angeles Clippers or his short time with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
However, does that mean I want owners to take away his dignity and stick him with a deal that would only sustain until the middle of the season? When he does not perform to the height of what Dan Gilbert believes his potential is, should he be tossed out on his behind? In modern-day America, we get frustrated at the idea of basketball players being paid more than we are complaining about having to give a little for NBA owners to take a little.
As working class people, it has yet to dawn upon us that we should not look at players in the same light as we look at the effects and efforts of a nine-to-five occupation.
NBA players do not reside comfortably in a nine-to-five arena. They are viewed as overpaid jerks that only have to dribble a ball around to get a check with more zeroes than we could ever imagine. The truth of the matter is that NBA players sustain a reasonable avenue of risk as they dedicate themselves to their craft.
While all fans pay attention to is the yachts, the lunches on the beach and the larger-than-life endorsements, they must consider the players have to interact with bosses and a commissioner that has occupied himself with the duty of overseeing the league’s most valuable and collect a small fee while doing so. Does that sound like the job of an overseer to you?
What about his comments that unless the NBPA starts playing ball, he will be forced to cancel more games? The job of the overseer, during colonial times, was to manage the day-to-day activities of the slaves and do whatever he deemed necessary to make sure the slaves got their jobs done.
That included beatings of example and open threats. I have never seen Stern step onto the hardwood with a whip and a shotgun, but his threats about early season deterioration to get the Players’ Association to play ball does sound a tad bit familiar.
It is undeniable that the players not named LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant do not deserve the lavishly out-of-hand $100 million over five or six years deal. That would alleviate the levels set in the league to section off those who mean the most to their team and those who are role players.
Still, relinquishing all rights to the owners in order for the higher-leveled athletes to stay paid and anyone below statistical range of what is considered the greatest active in the league to be treated like aging NFL players seems harsh among all odds.
A hard cap would force general managers in the league to pitch players a life that may be shortly-funded by his franchise and may just consist of seasons full of bull and fertile with trades and non-guaranteed contracts. You might be on a championship-winning team, but then again you may get cut before you even get a chance to feel the jewelry on your finger.
Let the owners tell it that is the way the NBA must be run. That is just the way it has got to be.
Stern spoke about the owners’ willingness to compromise and continue to negotiate if games were cancelled through Christmas day. He cited the loss of further financial loss as the cause of future lack of good will on their part. Doesn’t it seem as though Stern will deny every ounce of the fact that owners will also be feeling the brunt of the bullet if more of the season is killed off?
If an entire plantation of slaves had conjured a revolt and their owners were forced to face a field of crops that they themselves had to function with, how long would they stand steadfast? Would the crops die because there was no one to take care of them?
Sure the owners were effective in collecting the labor to do the job for them, but how long would they sustain without that labor? Not only would the slaves be in danger of punishment for disobeying their owners, but the owners would be at risk of losing a lot of good crops and fertile land.
The two-sided sword is evident in any situation where there is a governing body and those being governed.
Gumbel’s reference to Stern’s mentality being similar to that of a “slave overseer” was not inaccurate. Stern does embed the feeling of a man that does not have all the power, but has just enough to put the taste of obedience in players’ mouths.
Unfortunately for him and the men he works for, the players are simply not going to play that game anymore unless it comes with terms of respect and acknowledgement.
David Stern does not seem bent on injecting those values into the game. At least not from up there on his high horse.