Monday, March 21, 2011

8 comments Scoop Jackson Is Tired of People Bashing NBA Players

Scoop Jackson is tired NBA players are being bashed for switching teams. It isn't their fault. Scoop sort of has a point, there has been a lot of bashing and some of it has come from this blog, but naturally he does a terrible job explaining it. Also, his reasoning stinks. The system works the way it does, but Scoop tries to remove any sort of guilt on the part of the players that moved teams and that just isn't accurate.

You hear words like "ruining" and "destroyed." You hear that these players drag the process out to the detriment of the team.

Ask the Nuggets and their fans how they feel right now. I think there is an argument that can be made the Carmelo Anthony situation was dragged out interminably to the detriment of the team. I am not sure a single Nuggets fan liked having this Anthony situation over the team's head for most of the year.

If you listen to the public and media reaction to recent player movement -- starting with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudemire this past summer

I don't recall a single person having a problem with Amare Stoudemire going to the Knicks. I also don't recall many people having a problem with Chris Bosh signing with the Heat. As far as LeBron James goes, yes, the television program that was set up for him to announce his destination (where he took his "talents") over the summer was criticized a lot. Rightly so. It was the height of ego. We are over it now.

and continuing with Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams last week -- the NBA is going to hell in a hand basket. No, worse. It's going there in a handbag. Furla.

I don't know if the NBA is going to hell in a hand basket or a handbag. Players forcing teams to trade and marquee players leaving teams in free agency has always been present in the NBA, it just seems more present now.

Stick your nose to any TV, computer or iPad screen, or hold your ear to concrete. You'll hear screams of blame being placed on players for sculpting the game's power structure into a shape that -- if it isn't stopped -- will result in the annihilation of professional basketball.

Scoop is being a little dramatic here. I think many people are making the observation that when the time comes to negotiate the next labor agreement, the movement of players and how to possibly limit the movement will be a source of contention between the union and the NBA. No one is talking about the annihilation of professional basketball. To ignore the effect the movement of players like Williams, James and Anthony have on the upcoming labor agreement is to ignore a major potential issue that will be put on the table.

Truth? The new "problem" with/in the NBA -- the so-called "LeBron" epidemic isn't a problem at all. At least not one that should be blamed on the players. No rules have been broken; no franchises have folded.

Franchises haven't folded yet. Though folding some franchises may not be a terrible idea.

I like how Scoop says this is the truth. It's not. It is how he sees the truth. Scoop is great at trying to take an argument that isn't being made (rules were broken) and then refuting it. We all know rules haven't been broken. Simply because rules weren't broken doesn't mean the movement of players isn't an issue that will need to be addressed in the future.

The blame game. It goes something like this.

Blame the players for situations in which teams put themselves.

How exactly did the Cavaliers put themselves in the situation where LeBron James was a free agent? They offered him the most money they could offer him. Outside of putting a horse's head in his bed or kidnap a family member there wasn't much else the Cavs could have done to keep him from the Heat. The argument could be made the Cavs didn't put enough pieces around James to make him successful, but simply by not making James' situation perfect the Cavs didn't screw up and give James no choice but to leave.

How exactly did the Nuggets put themselves in the situation to where Carmelo Anthony wanted a trade? By drafting him? By not winning a championship with him on the roster? If not winning a championship was a criteria for demanding a trade nearly every player in the NBA could demand a trade at some point. The Nuggets offered Anthony a contract extension and he refused to sign it. Sure, the Nuggets are partially responsible for the situation going on and on, but they waited until they got what they perceived to be the best offer for Anthony. Anthony wasn't going to participate in a sign-and-trade this summer and he sure has hell wasn't coming back to the Nuggets. He wanted to play in New York.

If anything, the Jazz avoided putting themselves in a situation similar to the Nuggets and Cavs by trading Williams. Deron Williams was non-committal about re-signing in Utah (just like he has been in New Jersey) and they didn't want to go through a situation like the Nuggets just went through. The only thing Deron Williams seems to be able to commit to is that he doesn't know where he wants to play in 2012. The bottom line is the Jazz didn't want to beg Williams to re-sign with them so they could continue to be a #4 seed in the West.

I am not anti-player, but these are the facts as we know them. The three teams I highlighted above did not put themselves in a situation where they had no choice but to trade a player who was willing to re-sign with them. Scoop is ignoring the obvious truth and defending the players he wants to buddy up to by suggesting the previous NBA teams had as much to do with their situation as the players did. James, Anthony and Williams could have put all of the rumors to rest by re-signing with their current teams and they chose not to.

Blame the labor for decisions made, for the most part, by management.

Did the Jazz, Nuggets and Cavs do EVERYTHING they could do in terms of bringing in good players to help the team? Of course not. This doesn't put the player off the hook for his decision to leave the team or choose not to re-sign.

Essentially Scoop is saying, "the players didn't do anything wrong by not re-signing with their current team," and then saying, "well if they did do something wrong it certainly wasn't their fault because their hand was forced." Which is bullshit.

Blame Anthony for the state of the Nuggets. Blame Williams for the state of the Jazz. Blame Blake Griffin right now for leaving one L.A. team for another in … when? 2015?

At this point, no one would blame Blake Griffin for leaving the Clippers. I am not sure anyone is putting ALL of the blame on the players. The teams made their decisions and the players made their decisions.

In a recent SportsNation poll, the question was asked: What is the biggest challenge facing the NBA? The answer option that came in first, with 40 percent, was this: How To Defend Jimmer Fredette. (It was an attempt at humor.) In second, with 34 percent of the votes: Stars Leaving Small Markets. (No laugh track.)

Because if anything screams "this is how the general public feels" it is a poll where people are given 4-5 options and forced to choose one and the option that gets the most votes is a joke answer. It's an SportsNation poll. I don't want to be rude to anyone who votes in this poll, but I would guess the same people who vote in this poll are not people I would want speaking for my opinion on a sports-related matter.

But where is it? Where is this epidemic?

Some would say the epidemic has occurred and is now working on a new group of players like Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. Has Scoop not paid attention to the very subject he has been discussing in this column? This "epidemic" is in the free agents and potential free agents (James, Anthony, etc.) leaving one team to go to another team.

Where will this mass exodus of star players come from? Who else will leave of his own accord and leave his old team in ruins?

Just eyeballing it, I would guess Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, and Deron Williams.

Let's see, LeBron left Cleveland and Bosh left Toronto. Outside of that, who else left?

What's being overlooked is that Denver chose to trade Anthony;

What's being overlooked by Scoop is that no-they-fucking-didn't choose to trade Anthony. The Nuggets had an offer for a contract extension on the table all summer to Carmelo Anthony. The Nuggets didn't choose to trade Anthony any more than a person with a gun to his head chooses to give up his wallet or get shot. Denver chose to trade Anthony because they didn't want him to leave as a free agent and receive no compensation for him.

Carmelo forced the hand of Denver. They either could trade him or lose him in free agency. To say the Nuggets had no choice would be incorrect, but they didn't have many attractive options other than trade Anthony. If Carmelo Anthony was going to re-sign with the Nuggets he would have already done so. So putting "chose" in italics like the Nuggets didn't have their hand forced is just plain misleading.

Utah chose to trade Williams.

They did choose to trade Williams. Deron Williams was being non-committal about his future in Utah so the Jazz wanted to avoid a situation where they deal with an unhappy player who won't commit to the team and wants to be a free agent, so they traded him. Scoop can be willfully blind to the truth, but the truth is Deron Williams wasn't re-signing in Utah and Williams would have most likely forced the Jazz's hand at some point. There's circumstantial evidence (his refusal to commit to signing there) and historical evidence (James, Bosh) that would lead the Jazz to believe this.

Phoenix (after three years of attempting to deal him at the trade deadlines) chose to part ways with Stoudemire. Last summer, the Jazz chose to part ways with Carlos Boozer.

Here is where Scoop gets his brain all confused. I can't think of a sole person that criticized Boozer or Stoudemire for where they signed contracts because they (a) didn't turn it into a spectacle and (b) did not demand their team trade them. Lumping these two free agents in with Anthony, Williams, and James is a deceitful way to try and prove a point by comparing two non-comparable situations. Stoudemire and Boozer left their respective teams and it was a mutual decision. THAT is the difference. The Suns and Jazz let the players go to a different team and the players wanted to go to a different team.

Minnesota, a few years ago, chose to trade KG to Boston. Seattle chose to trade Ray Allen to the Celtics.

Again, this is a different situation. Garnett nor Allen never publicly demanded a trade (at least that I could find). It was a mutual decision for both parties to move on.

Yet the players are the ones being blamed for leaving small markets for marquee cities. That's the equivalent of blaming CBS for Charlie Sheen's behavior, arguing that by allowing Sheen to play the character Charlie Harper on "Two and a Half Men," the network is partially responsible for his private life spiraling out of control.

Well, this is a terrible comparison. In this comparison, Sheen is better represented as the NBA player and CBS is better represented as the NBA team. If Sheen demanded out of his contract or said he was going to quit the show (or wasn't sure if he wanted to continue on the show) after his contract ran out, Scoop Jackson would put the blame on CBS after they replaced Sheen on the show and got rid of his character.

Remember, Dwyane Wade stayed in Miami.

Because he recruited James and Bosh to play with him. Otherwise, he would have been gone. Let's not pretend Bosh, James, and Wade on one team was a collective effort. It wasn't like they just accidentally ended up on the same team. If James/Bosh didn't come to Miami, Wade was gone.

Joe Johnson stayed in Atlanta.

Because they gave him more money than other teams could or would.

Rudy Gay stayed in Memphis.

Again, because they offered him more money than other teams would.

David Lee left a large market (New York) to go to a smaller one (San Francisco/Oakland).

Scoop just can't seem to understand the difference in this move and the move of James to the Heat. Lee leaving the Knicks happened partly because the Knicks were spending money on other players (Stoudemire) or trying to recruit other players (James, Wade). It was a mutual decision for Lee to leave the Knicks. The Knicks wanted their salary cap space for other Carmelo Anthony. If Scoop can't understand the difference Lee going to Golden State and Carmelo Anthony leaving the Nuggets to go to the Knicks, then there isn't much I can do to help him understand.

But no one talks about that; no one wants to remember those small but significant details.

We remember. We also understand the differences in each situation.

It's time to stop blaming Anthony because the Nuggets panicked

The Nuggets did not panic. Anthony WAS NOT coming back to Denver and they had the choice of trading him and getting something back for him or let him leave as a free agent. What did Denver panic about? If Anthony was staying in Denver he would have signed the contract extension that was on the table since last summer.

Don't blame Chris Paul and Dwight Howard for the likelihood that New Orleans and Orlando one day will … panic.

So don't blame Dwight Howard or Chris Paul if neither of them refuse to sign a contract extension and act like they haven't made up their mind on which team they want to play for in 2012? It is not like the Hornets or Magic have any reason to panic...unless they have been paying attention at all to what has happened over the last 10 months.

Is it really panic to assume a player who won't sign a new contract won't be back on the team? The Raptors and Cavs didn't panic and look where it got them. They didn't get very much in return for James and Bosh, meanwhile at least the Nuggets and Jazz got something for players who didn't want to be on their team.

As players, they have every legal right to see what free agency is like, but it seems they get labeled as "disloyal" if they give the slightest indication that they might want to test the open market, even if it's just to find out what they might be worth.

Nobody is calling Deron Williams or Carmelo Anthony disloyal. Carmelo didn't give a "slight" indication he was testing the open market, he refused to sign a contract extension and seemed to give all indications, including demanding a trade, that gave a reasonable person belief he wouldn't choose to re-sign with Denver.

These players have a legal right to test free agency. I am not saying they don't or shouldn't. This is another situation where Scoop can't seem to stay consistent with his message. The Raptors, Suns, Jazz, Knicks and Cavs all let their players test free agency and key players from those teams left. In some cases, it was fine with the team, and in other cases it was not fine. Scoop gets his panties all in a wad because teams aren't letting their players test free agency, yet there are plenty of examples in this very column why the Jazz and Nuggets would not let Anthony and Williams respectively test free agency.

Basically Scoop just refuses to blame the NBA player in any situation. If a team lets the player test the market it isn't his fault for leaving and if a team doesn't let the player test the market and trades him then that team panicked. Either way, Scoop blames the team.

Even when the decision to leave is made for them.

Anthony had demanded a trade at one point and if Deron Williams had given an indication he was open to re-signing in Utah he would not have gotten traded.

Forgotten is how the NBA did not fall apart and teams did not fold when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar left Milwaukee for L.A., or when Shaquille O'Neal left Orlando for L.A., or when Baron Davis left Charlotte for L.A. (OK, in Davis' case, it was for the L.A. Clippers.)

Those three players left their team over a 20+ year span, not a 10 month span. Those who think there is a current "epidemic" of players leaving are worried due to this many players leaving over a small time span.

The real issue here is power. Power that most people aren't used to seeing be exercised by players, who many wish would remain powerless.

This is not true. I don't want the players to remain powerless. I want the players to just not have enough power to change the entire fortunes of a team, and have the team over a barrel, when he wants to play somewhere else. Some of this is avoidable of course.

To too many, the players should remain the "Forty Million Dollar Slaves" so dubbed by William C. Rhoden in his book. To too many people, they should remain as is, as we have forever seen and viewed them: pawns.

I want Carmelo Anthony to have power. The bottom line remains Anthony is an employee of the Denver Nuggets, not a fucking slave as Scoop so ignorantly says, so I would like for his employer to have a certain amount of power over him while he is under contract. Needless to say, in sports where players like Anthony have a skill set that is not easily reproduced this is difficult. Fans don't want players dictating what that team will choose to do personnel-wise in regard to the player, just like fans don't want to see a team keep a great player on a crappy team.

Regardless of the way all these deals unfolded, most of the recent decisions to move superstars (regardless of where they ended up) were made by organizations, not by players.

These moves were made by the organization, but at the request of the superstar, or because the team wanted value for the player in lieu of most likely getting no compensation for the player when he eventually left the team in free agency. It was a decision made by the Jazz and Nuggets, but I think it could be argued the Nuggets at least were forced into making the decision.

A player should never be blamed for the fear an organization has that it possibly could lose that player.

The player is not being blamed in nearly all of these situations. LeBron James was blamed for the way he went about choosing a different team. Carmelo Anthony is being blamed because he demanded a trade and then the saga of trading Anthony went on for months because he refused to sign a contract extension with certain teams if he got traded to them. These players aren't blameless like Scoop wants them to be.

Scoop needs to look deeper into each situation, which he will undoubtedly refuse to do, and see the players don't deserve ALL of the blame, but some of it. Some of the blame for refusing a contract extension and causing a divorce goes on the player. Specifically in situations when the team wants to keep the player. Really "blame" is a bad word because the player should be able to do what he wants when his contract runs out. That being said, a player can be blamed partially for the fear the organization has of possibly losing that player if the organization has a good reason to believe they will lose that player.

Yet there's anger when certain players take advantage of their power, when that power can be brokered in their favor.

There is anger because a player can be seen as putting aside the needs of his current team to further his own personal agenda. Carmelo Anthony wouldn't take kindly to the team he plays for not telling him whether they plan on keeping key players on that team around. Turn the situation around: If the Nuggets had been indifferent to re-signing guys like Nene and indicating they aren't sure the direction of the team in the future, Carmelo Anthony would be pissed and would most likely demand a trade or demand the team indicate they want to be competitive. That's what the Nuggets did with the situation reversed back to the real life example. The Nuggets demanded Anthony determine whether he would re-sign with them and when he wouldn't, they traded him.

I was once told that the "haves" in sports generally feel the following way about the "have-nots": "They don't want them to get smarter."

Really, this is all about the Nuggets trying to keep Anthony "down" by only offering him a 3 year $65 extension. You can barely buy a couple dozen McDonald's franchises with that money and still expect to make ends meet.

You know who "they" are, and you know who "them" are. So stop being mad at "them" for no longer being dumb.

I am not upset players have equal power and equal leverage. I think it is only fair. I am not even upset. I can see how NBA players could get bashed for not committing to their current team and I don't think an NBA team should hold any blame for trading a player they don't believe will re-sign with that team.

There is a balance that Scoop is missing. No one is mad at free agents who go to other teams. The Nuggets dragged the Anthony situation out far too long, but Anthony is the one who refused to sign an extension with the Nuggets in the first place. The decision to trade him was made by the organization but forced upon them by Anthony if the Nuggets wanted to get value for him. Scoop is wrong to act like the Jazz and Nuggets traded their star players on their own free will. They learned from the Cavs and Raptors situation and adjusted accordingly, just like Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony learned from the James and Bosh situation on how to best team up with other NBA stars.


rich said...

continuing with Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams last week

Remember when Melo said he wasn't resigning with the Nuggets and then once it was reported that the negotiations were "going slowly" he suddenly has a change of heart and tells the media that if he wasn't traded by the deadline he'd "seriously reconsider" resigning? He publicly used the fact that he had a contract to force teams to trade for him.

Same with Williams: blew up on his coach, got him fired and still acted like a child.

Is this new stuff? Probably not, but with the media coverage, it's reported a lot more than it used to.

Let's see, LeBron left Cleveland and Bosh left Toronto. Outside of that, who else left?

Amare? The guy he just referenced like 3 paragraphs before. Carlos Boozer after dicking over one team to go to the Jazz then leaves the Jazz.

He's also failing to mention that three superstars left in one off-season. Three superstars leave as FAs and two more demand trades in one season, that's a huge deal.

Minnesota, a few years ago, chose to trade KG to Boston. Seattle chose to trade Ray Allen to the Celtics.

Scoop making a strawman argument. No one hates KG or Allen for going to Boston. Most people were actually happy for the two of them. Two struggling teams traded players that had some value who had been classy about their situations and now had a chance to win a championship. People loved it.

For example, how many people think Grant Hill is a douche for leaving the Pistons and Magic? No one. It's not a loyalty thing, it's an asshole thing. LeBron was an ass about leaving Cleveland, Melo was an ass in Denver and Williams was an ass in Utah.

Another example: Scottie Pippen. Remember when he wanted out? The Bulls said no and Pippen went about his business. He didn't pout about it, didn't demand Jackson get fired and didn't hold a tv special host by MJ. He played out his contract, said "thanks, but I'm leaving" and left. No one cared.

A player should never be blamed for the fear an organization has that it possibly could lose that player.

Never is a big word. What about if a player tells a team that they'll resign and then with 2 days left in free agency say "tough shit, I'm out" and the team's backup plan is shot to shit because free agency is over. I'd blame the player there.

Here's the other thing about the Melo deal. Until the very end, teams wanted him to sign a new contract. You deal half your team for a guy, not a bad thing to ask for. He refused to meet with certain team's representatives and so he only helped exacerbate the problem. The fact is Melo didn't want out of Denver, he wanted to go to the Knicks.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, exactly. I think Melo was able to use the media coverage to increase the importance of a trade and to make it clear he wasn't staying. The media jumped on this, so it made it more important for the Nuggets to trade him.

Scoop should know regardless of whether other players left their teams as FA on good or bad terms, they still left. 3 superstars in the past 9 months have switched teams. That's a big deal. Is it something to where the NBA is crashing down? Probably not, but the players are to blame in some of these situations.

Scoop is making a terrible argument. No one cared that Allen and Garnett left. No one cared that Gasol got traded from Memphis and other players who leave their teams, no one cares about that. These players didn't seem to pout and carry on about how they weren't re-signing new deals and how they wanted to be traded. I think that's the difference.

You can't say never. LeBron James is a good example. He didn't really do anything wrong, but the Cavs had no backup option for if he left and it decimated the franchise.

I think that is part of where the blame on Anthony lies. He didn't just want out of Denver, he only wanted to go to New York. So he demanded a trade essentially to a specific team. It's hard not to blame him for the situation when he says he won't sign a new contract and then publicly tries to tell his current team where to trade him.

ivn said...

Also, David Lee's departure was a sign-and-trade which IIRC was to clear room for Amare. So that's great research by Scoop.

Bengoodfella said...

Ivn, I think you are right about that. Who needs research when you have a really strong point of view?

Arjun Chandrasekhar said...

if scoop doesn't think that the players are dictating where they play then i don't know what to tell him. if a player says "either trade me to this team, or i'll leave and prevent you from getting compensation", well they are pretty much forcing the team's hand. I actually have no problem with players forming superteams - i like having a loaded, top-heavy league - but clearly the players have a ton of sway. it's not ruining the game, but it's still a fact

Bengoodfella said...

Arjun, I think Scoop is too close to the players. He wants them to not be at fault, so he writes a column claiming they aren't. I am not incredibly bothered by superteams, but what does bother me is for the blame for the teams that trade away players like Melo or Deron Williams to be completely blamed. If Williams or Melo had wanted to sign a contract, they would still be with the Jazz and Nuggets respectively. Contrary to what Scoop says, that's the bottom line.

I don't know if it is ruining the game either. We'll see, but I players can leave in free agency without demanding a trade.

Anonymous said...

Basketball has almost always been dominated by "superteams" anyway. Other than a couple of blips here and there, the NBA has in any given year consisted of three or four teams with a realistic shot at a title and everybody else struggling for relevance. Celtics once won 11 titles in 13 years. In the college game, UCLA had a similar run. If it didn't ruin the game then I don't see why it would be ruined now.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, that's true. The 1980's Lakers and Celtics teams had McHale, Parish, Walton, Bird, Worthy, Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Norm Nixon, Bob McAdoo, Jamaal Wilkes, and Robert Parish. So yes, there have been super teams in the past that dominated the league.

I don't think it is a matter of super teams or really ruining the league. It is a matter of players trying to hold their current team hostage and negotiate where they are going to be traded to. That's not even what this article is about. Scoop Jackson says the fact that is happening is the fault of the NBA team, not the player. Which is ridiculous. Of course the player is the one if we had to place "blame" is where many times it would go.