Here we are, celebrating freedom. Celebrating independence. Eating hot dogs, lighting fireworks, grilling burgers and chicken and drinking beer. Everybody isn’t celebrating though. Some people are in mourning. Some people are loathing independence and free thinking. People are burning things, hurling insults and practically declaring war on anyone not wearing the same colors as them. I know this sounds like the Revolutionary War but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about NBA free agency……………………….
It’s kinda funny that free agency happens around this time. Especially given how the process works now. The players have seized control and are taking their destinies into their own hands and not waiting for owners to give them what they think they should have. It’s nice to see these guys get a piece (albeit it a relatively small piece) of the proverbial pie. The players are making decisions based on what’s best for them. I’m not mad at that at all. You shouldn’t be either. If there ever was an American dream, that’s it. I can’t believe that some of us have a problem with people making their lives easier while simultaneously maximizing profit. Would we do it any differently if we were in the same position? Guys (and girls), some of you are looking way too deep into this stuff. What you see as betrayal and cowardice simply looks like good business and perfect strategy. No need to continue to gripe over it. It’s the way things are now. Welcome to the NBAAU.
Now for the other side of the coin. From a decision making standpoint, all of this is glorious. Couldn’t envision these players doing a better job. From a basketball standpoint, from a competitive standpoint, from a fan’s standpoint, it’s ruining the game. Now I’m not going to preach about what Magic, Bird, MJ, Isiah or any other player would have done. I don’t know those guys or know how they think. They also were never in the position to guide their own careers this way (Spoiler Alert: they wouldn’t have teamed up if someone paid them lol). But what I will say is they went at each other’s necks relentlessly. There was no backing down. There was no collusion. I look at a team like the Raptors. Those guys don’t even want to compete against LeBron. That would never happen in a man’s league. Deep down inside, guys knew Mike was better. They had to. But guess what, they threw the kitchen sink at him. No laying down. We don’t have that today. Today we have an arms race. People are just loading up their artillery, even taking weapons they don’t need and attacking lesser armies with the full force of an armada. Like I said, it’s smart but it doesn’t help the quality of the league in the least bit. Golden State really is Microsoft. They’re an unrivaled monopoly. And the bad part about it is they are the ones who can determine when the reign will end. If all those guys take pay cuts and stay together (highly unlikely) then they might run a Boston. I know y’all peeped the double entendre. If you didn’t……………….
How did it get this way? I’m glad you asked. Legacies, brands, public opinion, media driven narratives and comparisons to past greats have led to this behavior. It’s not about basketball anymore. The game has changed. But what’s crazy is I don’t think this was always a thought or desire for players. But if you see a dude counting cards at the blackjack table you’re gonna join in right? And before one of you make me angry, yes I’m aware that there have been teams with multiple great players on them at the same time. That much is obvious. What’s different today is guys are strategizing about how to play together. We went from “Damn that guy’s really good. Next time we play, I’m goin at him.” to “Damn that guy’s really good. How do I get him on my team?”. I’m not going to say it’s a lack of pride because the guys don’t want to lose but at the same time I’m shaking my head at this generation of players. This is also on us a little bit. We (well y’all) judge players solely by rings. So these dudes said “Well I’m gettin me a ring then…….”. Not everyone achieves their goal but the ones that do carry that championship around like a Get Out of Jail Free card. And when it works out guess what it does? It turns us (y’all) into hypocrites. You criticize and ridicule a payer for not having a ring, probably because you didn’t like them in the first place. Said player wins a ring and now you have to explain why the ring isn’t valid. Save yourself some energy fam.
Whatever the case may be, we have to accept that this is the new norm of the league. Take the good with the bad and move on with your life. You’re not gonna do anything but ignore it when your favorite player does it anyway. And here’s a secret, you can’t really take advantage of this unless you’re a damn good player to begin with. I’m sure no one is in a bunker going over the plan of attack of how they’re going to get Alex Len on their team.