There are dozens of thing wrong with the NBA. The league owning the team that is trying to trade away its best player just happens to be the comic masterpiece that frames things with such aplomb. They wonder why Chris Paul can’t be moved? Well, think about if 29 siblings were in a room trying to decide who got the one priceless heirloom their parents left them in the will. How would that go? If someone actually owned the Hornets, Paul would be gone, and the teams not involved in the trade would be left to gripe like Fantasy Football message board trolls. But, since they’ve all got a tangible interest in the Hornets they can exercise their own little power-plays and attention grabs. It’s almost as if the lockout is happening all over again, only this time the owners are fighting with each other.
The Paul fiasco is secondary, though, and so is the fact that no one during the whole lockout looked around and said, “Why do we have a team that no one wants to buy in New Orleans?” The real problem is: the NBA marketed itself right into the toilet. Sometime around Magic/Michael and Larry things became all about the superstar. We’re a superstar league. That’s the mantra of the NBA, right? Barkley, Jordan, Shaq, KG, Kobe, blah blah blah the lists goes on and on. The NBA became masters of promoting the individual. If you were an athlete that wanted a national ad campaign, the NBA was the way to go. They’ve got the most recognizable stars, helmet-less and right there for your viewing pleasure.
This started out as a reasonable idea. It certainly makes sense when Michael Jordan is in the league. It worked so well with Jordan not only because he was a transcendent talent, but also because he was marketable. People liked him. Over time, he’d obviously develop his group of haters, but for the most part MJ was loved across all fan bases. Everyone liked Jordan, and people became Jordan fans more than Bulls fans, and if you happened to like your hometown team–Great. But, you still had the Jordan poster on your wall.
And, with Barkley and the some of the rest of the Dream Team guys, MJ had a nice supporting cast of stars that were also marketable and fan friendly. I’d say when Jordan finally waned, it became Shaq’s league. Shaq, again, was able to break down the barriers of traditional fandom. Everyone thought Shaq was a good interview. He was playful, he was larger than life, his shocking inability to shoot free throws made him fallible. He was a guy that could almost carry a league. He wasn’t Jordan, but he started getting some help. There was Kobe, A.I., and then eventually there would be Wade and LeBron. Carmello. Dwight Howard. The players are still just as talented. They still do the same amazing things on the court, but the problem is….
I don’t like any of these guys. They’re all a–holes. I don’t even like them in the way you’d appreciate a worthy villain. They’re just spoiled, entitled, egomaniacs. And, you may ask me to step back and say, “Whoa, welcome to professional sports,” but I honestly think the NBA is worse than the other leagues. Look at what has happened the last few years. Guys demand trades, they orchestrate super teams, they show absolutely no loyalty, they meddle in front office affairs, and they, to a man, always pass the buck. The “no foul has ever been committed” culture has spread from the court to these guys’ everyday lives. How could I possibly do wrong? I’m LeBron. And, the NBA has fed this fire by being a slave to the superstar. Even the league’s salary structure seems designed to imply that every team must be paying at least one guy an exorbitant amount of money. If that guy happens to be Andre Iguodala? Well, tough sh*t for you–go buy a new LeBron Heat jersey!
I saw that Dwight Howard now wants out of Orlando. The major complaint seems to be that the GM is not listening to his input on who the team should be getting to play alongside him. And, the worst part is, the GM concedes that this something that NBA executives must do. Are you kidding me? Of course, the real truth is, the GM could have had Howard by his side 24-7, calling all the shots, but it still wouldn’t have been enough to get an NBA star to come to Orlando. Go to Orlando? Sorry, the paparazzi isn’t hot enough there, Dwight, how about you just demand a trade and we’ll all end up in L.A. or NY instead, cool? Sure.
So, welcome to the monster you created, David Stern. You’ve got 20 of 30 teams that will never be able to land and keep one of your precious superstars and the fan bases are going to act accordingly. An up and coming team? Please. Why would I care about that? Who’s their best player? Jrue Holiday? Joke. Haven’t seen him hawking Sprite anywhere. He must be awful. And, the theory that I’d be a fan of D-Wade/Howard/LeBron/CP regardless of where they played, like I religiously followed Barkley to the Suns back in the day? No f-ing chance. I hate those guys. So, by your own marketing strategies my hometown team is a non-factor and your universal stars are about as appealing as a bare-assed trip down a metal slide in August.
Again, I am an NBA hater. Just thought you’d maybe like to know why.