“The NBA–Do You Like It?”
NBA basketball is at an all time high in popularity . There are superstars lots of places, phenomenal athletes most everywhere, and a skill set that we have never seen before.
Back in the day we had George Mikan and the Minneapolis Lakers.
There was Wilt-Jerry West-Elgin Baylor with the LA Lakers.
The Boston Celtics delivered us Bill Russell, Cousy, Heinshohn, Satch Sanders and the Jones Boys.
The Lakers reigned with Showtime, Magic Johnson and the year by year talent level headed by Jabbar, Worthy, Cooper, Fisher and so many others.
The Boston brilliance was a marquee roster led by Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and more.
San Antonio had David Robinson-Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli era.
Today’s NBA allows us to see Giannis in Milwaukee, Butler in Miami, the Splash Brothers-Curry-Thompson with the champions in Golden State.
The difference though today to yesterday is this: the great teams of the past decades, kept their players intact, rosters had continuity. There was a loyalty and a pride factor for all the superstars back in the day.
The game has changed in terms of firepower and talent. It has also changed in terms of dollars and cents, and thus player movement.
The old NBA box scores would show you the starting center, the point guard, the shooting guard and the bigs who played at the 3-4 forward position.
Today, players change teams year by year.
Players sit out seasons for a wide variety of reasons.
Players get dealt because of the payrolls.
And there is ego and attitude so much more now than ever.
Points-rebounds-shooting percentage have been replaced by talking points about luxury taxes, salary caps, trade exceptions, the Bird rule, mid level exceptions, opt out and opt in clauses, and no trade clauses.
Meet the new breed NBA, and as free agency begins on Thursday afternoon, meet the prime example of players who have changed the game.
The NBA headlines this week were all about players on the move, veteran big money players, guys who want out, dudes who want to be paid. Max this contract.
The Association is now dominated by mercenaries, Soldiers of Fortune, guys who drive deals because of who they are, what they want, max contracts
RUSSELL WESTBROOK…He just opted in to retain his (47.7M) salary, because no one wants him in a trade. What was a great talent with the Oklahoma City Thunder has long disappeared. He is an erratic shooter, not much of a defender, and teams around him have become losers. Shall be interesting to see how tough new coach Darvin Ham is on Westbrook, and whether he can mold him to be a better fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, or will this year, be like last year, a failed chemistry test. His track record, 4-teams in the last 4-years, now no one wants him, and the Lakers are stuck with him
JAMES HARDIN…How many teams can he play for. He puts up big stats, but recently his teams don’t win either. Age catching up to him? An inability to become a scorer and a distributor night-in and night out. He just opted out of his (47.7M) deal with the 76ers to try and negotiate a multi year extension with the Sixers and give them cap space to add people around a team that has yet to win Hardin’s track record is like the others here, brilliance in Oklahoma City, great years in Houston, then an ill-fitting season with Brooklyn and the trade to Philadelphia.
JOHN WALL…His career rocketed, then he got hurt, then his Washington Wizards team fell apart. On he went to Houston, dragging injuries, attitude issues and a massive contract with him. He sat out all of last year by mutual agreement. Houston just reached a 36M-buyout for Wall, and he is headed to the LA Clippers on a 6M deal with the chance to sign a big money multi year deal to team with Paul George-Kawhi Leonard. His career is not as troubled as the other two. Stay tuned to see where the road to LA takes him.
KYRIE IRVING…Love me, love me noty. He’s had great opportunities in the NBA to get rewards, is highly paid, and is highly troubled. He remains in Brooklyn, after being given permission by the Nets to work out a sign trade deal with another club, that club the Lakers. They did not have cap space. Brooklyn did not want Westbrook as a take back in the deal. And LA refused to give up future #1 picks as sweeteners to make a trade. Irving, gritting his teeth, opted in for the final year of his (47.7M) max contract with the Nets. This is the great talent who has become a great problem. Did not want to play any longer in Cleveland with LeBron James. Went to Boston and was hot and cold trying to fit in with the Celtics talents Tatum-Brown. On to Brooklyn to join forces with Kevin Durant, and that did not work out. Added into to this, his decision to take time off for social causes, during the George Floyd tragedy. A major injury. and then last year, his refusal to get vaccinated meant he could not play home games in New York, could not practice, and then played mostly road games. He missed more than half the schedule and the season collapsed. All is well with him as long as he gets his points and his money, even while he leaves wreckage behind.
Welcome to the new NBA. It’s a players league, run by guys like this, not Commissioner Adam Silver or your favorite GM.
The NBA, a different type of super star now, Mercenaries, and Soldiers of Fortune.
Wonder if you like it?