Believe me CP3, I don't get it either.
Never fear Alt Tabbers, even without our valiant leader CW's sarcastic take on the daily news on this Friday, I am here to provide at least some distraction from your day in the form of another sports rant, my specialty. Yesterday night, ESPN Breaking news ticker at the bottom of the screen (“breaking news” in ESPN speak usually just means a relevant news tidbit that isn’t about the Heat/ Undefeated Packers/ Brett Favre) sent shockwaves through the entire league, with Chris Paul involved a three team deal sending him to the Celtics arch nemesis, the Lakers, with the writing on the wall pretty evident for additional moves to be made to bring in Dwight Howard. The players involved were either very good or solid and from my perspective, seemed like a reasonable deal for each team with an appropriate degree of positives and negatives. Paul goes to the Lakers to pair his superios point guard abilities with the last of what’s in the tank for Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol goes to the Rockets as essentially Yao Ming’s replacement on a smaller scale, and New Orleans nets a reasonably good haul of talent in Luis Scola (solid scorer and rebounder), Kevin Martin (lethal scorer when healthy) Lamar Odom (despite my dislike for him on many levels, an immensely versatile power forward) and Goran Dragic (young point guard with ability), especially considering Paul had drastically reduced the Hornets trade leverage by publicly stating he would not sign an extension with the team. Yet each team had a degree of risk as well, with the Lakers losing much of their interior defense and resting their hopes on Andrew “Made of Glass” Bynum staying healthy, the Rockets losing a great role player and depth in Scola, and New Orleans has to bring in solid players at the expense of the face of their franchise. All in all, a reasonable trade, right? Enter David “God Complex” Stern (In case you didn’t notice, I really enjoy giving people fake middle names that accentuate either their positive or (mostly) negative attributes.
Yet almost as soon as this deal was consummated, it was just as quickly annihilated by the NBA for “basketball reasons” What in the hell kind of cop of horse shit excuse is that? But hey, if you don’t have a valid foundation for your actions, vague terminology is the way to go. If anything, I would have thought Stern was giggling like a school girl as Paul was shipped to one of the biggest basketball markets in the country, then snuck into Otis Smith’s house with a revolver pressed to his head and demanded that he ship Howard out West for some type of Andrew Bynum/Steve Blake/Other garbage player that meets the salary requirements for a trade. Instead, Stern pulled a complete (to my utter surprise) 180 on this one, despite the precedent of superstars, after bitching or pining to be moved, being traded for quality players just last season (The Deron Williams/Carmelo Anthony deals both netted the superstars former teams effective talent or potential big players, like Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Raymond Felton for the Nuggets and Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and TWO first round picks for the Jazz.)
Stern’s new crusade is apparently to create a more even playing field for all teams in the league and reverse the trend of large market teams dominating year in and year out (because this doesn’t happen in football and baseball…oh wait, it does) due to the formation of “superteams.” In nixing the deal, Stern has apparently sent the absurd message to the ENTIRE LEAGUE that no matter how well you have put together your team, however financially responsible you have been in constructing player contracts, if he does not like a particular transaction, he can arbitrarily rule it null and void. This an egregious policy that rivals current NFL contractual rules that allow agreements to be voided when a franchise decides a player isn’t playing up to their value. Now every single NBA franchise has to walk on eggshells when conducting any trade or signing a player, due to the threat of the Almighty Stern imposing his divine will and nullifying a team’s efforts to improve its ability to compete. I don’t buy his “we need to make the league more fair” argument for a second. Look no further than the SAN ANTONIO SPURS, who drafted well, scouted their players, assembled a roster through smarts and savvy despite not being in a “major” market. Oklahoma City is the current poster child of a small market team also succeeding in the current landscape among the Goliaths of the league. Small market teams, though no graced with the resources of larger markets, shouldn’t need to be catered to be the powers of the league to be competitive. They need to be shrewd, make smart choices, and not destroy themselves with crippling contracts (Example: Atlanta Hawks giving Joe Johnson 120 million dollars over 6 years will just reek of regret in a few years, even if doesn’t already)
This could very well be one of the worst decisions made by a commissioner of a professional sport in recent history. I say that without the slightest trace of sarcasm or hyperbole. Stern has demonstrated, with one single act of all encompassing self interested power, that he considers himself larger than the league he is supposed to be supporting the best interests of. And you know what? It is a damned shame that the league I love has had this immense shadow cast over it due to the overzealous emotional reaction of singularly powerful individual.