Showing posts with label Scoop Jackson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scoop Jackson. Show all posts

Monday, June 9, 2014

4 comments Yeah, It Sucks Donald Sterling Sold the Clippers for $2 Billion But What Did Scoop Jackson Expect to Happen and What's His Solution?

Scoop Jackson sort of throws a little gasoline on a fire and then walks away in this column. He says the value of racism was confirmed with Donald Sterling's sale of the Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. That's pretty much all Scoop says and then he stops writing. There are so many things wrong with this article. 

1. The NBA forced Sterling to sell the Clippers. Did Scoop think the team would be sold for $1? Did he think Sterling would receive a check from a potential buyer and then it comes up non-sufficient funds when he tries to cash the check and so he had lost his NBA team and had no money from the sale? Did Scoop think Adam Silver would send two thugs to rob Sterling of his money before he could cash the $2 billion check? (And yes, I know it isn't a check)

2. Isn't this a better lesson in free market economics? The NBA forced Sterling to sell. He did and his team is valued on the free market at $2 billion. The free market won, not racism.

3. What's the solution? Scoop, in typical shitty fashion, throws out all sorts of racial indicators for why Sterling is able to make so much money selling the Clippers, but he provides zero solutions. What would he have suggested happen? The NBA force Sterling to sell and then he gets $0 of the sale? Other than general whining about Sterling making money off a team he rightfully purchased and was forced to sale, what's the solution? Scoop has none. He prefers to throw gasoline on a fire and then walk away, letting others figure out how to stop the fire.

4. If Sterling had sold the Clippers for even $1 billion, then wouldn't that have also shown the value of racism? What's $2 billion compared to $1 billion? In fact, if Sterling got $500 million for the Clippers, he still has made a shit-ton of money off the sale of the Clippers and will continue to be super-racist and super-rich. It's a weak argument Scoop is making where the only real solution he would seem to enjoy is that Sterling doesn't make a dollar off the Clippers team that he is being forced to sell. That's not realistic. While Sterling may be a racist asshole, being a racist asshole isn't a crime (well, unless you are a racist asshole that discriminates on who he will rent property, which also describes Sterling...of course the NBA was totally fine with that at the time), and saying racist things doesn't mean you should forfeit all property and possessions. Sterling lost his NBA team. That was a victory. Forcing him to sell the Clippers and give him $0 of the proceeds of the sale for being racist isn't a realistic solution.

How sad is this?

A man gets publicly exposed for being a transparent racist and is universally vilified on every media and social platform known to man. He is forced out of the NBA by a commissioner who seemed to take unbridled pride in initiating the process of removing the owner from the league.

Sterling was forced to sell his team. He lost his NBA team, but would get money in return. He got $2 billion in return for selling a franchise in a huge market with two big stars on the team and a head coach who has an NBA Title. The Clippers have value, and so when the team is sold, Sterling reaps the reward of this value in the form of money.

now is on the verge of being rewarded with one of the largest windfalls in professional sports history.

$2 billion.

I wouldn't say he is being rewarded. He's being forced to sell the team and clearly doesn't want to do this. After being forced to sell, there was an offer of $1.6 billion from Oprah (I guess Scoop sees Oprah as part of the problem now for propping up and trying to make a racist wealthy?), so Steve Ballmer topped that offer. Sterling didn't commit a crime, he was forced to sell his team and there is no way to make sure he doesn't make money on the team he is being forced to sell.

Scoop isn't interested in the solution, he's interested in bitching, calling something racist and then moving on with his life. 

The Los Angeles Clippers, the same team that just six months ago Forbes valued at $575 million (13th on the NBA Team Valuation list), now has an offer for almost four times the worth of its January value (which is also four times higher than the most money ever exchanged for an NBA franchise).

NBA teams don't often go up for sale and NBA teams in Los Angeles don't often go on sale. The Lakers were valued in that same Forbes article as being worth $1.35 billion. There was an offer of $1.6 billion for the Clippers on the table. This isn't a case of Ballmer bidding against himself. There was another offer on the table that would have made Donald Sterling filthy rich and the lead face on that bid was a black female. Not coincidentally, Scoop leaves this part out of his screed about the unfairness of life and how racism is now valued at $2 billion.

And they say racism has no value -- or place -- in America.

Sterling was forced to sell his team. That was his punishment, even if it doesn't seem like enough. What's the solution? Is the solution to force Sterling to sell his team then say, "But you will have to actually give your team away for $0"? I'm pretty sure the legal system wouldn't be on the NBA's side in that situation.

On the surface there's almost no other way to look at this. Somehow Donald Sterling's comeuppance became a come up.

If the initial thought is "That's racist" and you don't care to look at this from a free market perspective, then yes, there's no other way to look at it. You just have to keep your eyes closed and hold tight to your assumptions. It wasn't Ballmer bidding against himself. He had competition who was offering closer to $2 billion than $1 billion.

Yes, there are other factors that should be taken into consideration,

And of course, Scoop WILL NOT be considering these other factors. Full speed ahead, racism wins.

I'm very interested to know what Scoop expected Sterling to receive in return for selling the Clippers. I get the feeling he would be bitching even if the franchise was sold for $600 million. After all, that still makes Sterling a very wealthy man and the same argument that racism pays could be used in this instance as well. So the only other way to look at this from my perspective is that regardless of how much the Clippers sold for, Scoop Jackson was writing an article about how racism pays.

I'm not saying that other NBA owners will look at this situation and use it as a template drive up the value of their teams. But what can't be ignored is that if none of this Sterling B.S. had ever happened, the value of the Clippers if sold today might have been "around $900 million," as ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell said on "Mike & Mike."

This is pure speculation based on Rovell's opinion. Not to mention, Sterling would not even be selling the Clippers if this situation had not occurred. That's the punishment right there. He is forced to sell (not give away) his team. And again, a pertinent point that Scoop isn't acknowledging is that a black female person bid $1.6 billion on the Clippers. Sure, this still means that racism wins, but it certainly gives a new perspective on the situation. 

How did the consequence of the public's disgust over the racist comments, beliefs and feelings of an owner become an upgrade to the value of a business by $1.1 billion in less than 30 days?

So if Sterling had "only" made $900 million on the sale then Scoop would have had no issue with the sale of the Clippers, as if $900 million is pocket change, and racism got a good kick in the ass? I really, really doubt it. This same column would be written.

What precedence does this set? What example beyond just the sale of the team does this leave?

Keep asking open-ended questions and providing zero answers. You are doing great, Scoop! Complain about the problem, but provide no solutions.

Yes, the situation was unique. Yes, there was a deadline in place that drove the interest in the team to a whole other stratosphere. Yes, Steve Ballmer desperately wanted a shot at getting an NBA team (he'd attempted it in the past and the deal fell through), so he was willing to make sure he overbid on the market value to keep other interested buyers away. 

These would be "the other factors" taken into consideration as to why the price was driven so high. You know, market factors that Scoop probably doesn't understand nor does he care to understand when screaming about racism. I'm baffled at what Scoop expected. Does he consider $900 million to be a really fair amount for Sterling to receive in return for the Clippers? That seems like a lot of money to me.

True, this is L.A. we are talking about, not Milwaukee, where the recent $550 million sale of Bucks was often used as a comp for the going price of non-championship-caliber NBA franchises.

If you can't understand the difference in value of a lottery team in Milwaukee and a playoff team in Los Angeles then you simply aren't trying to understand. The Clippers have two young franchise cornerstones in a very attractive market. The Bucks may (maybe) have some franchise cornerstones in a market that is not Los Angeles.

The punishment for being outed as a racist against blacks and other minorities in this country still pays dividends.

This would have been true no matter whether Sterling got $550 million or $2 billion. It's all a lot of money. Seeing as how he was forced to sell the team, I simply don't know what outcome Scoop was expecting.

And true, Sterling himself may never see or be able to personally do anything with the money, but his family will benefit greatly.

The entire Sterling family shouldn't be punished because Donald Sterling is a racist. I'm pretty sure he wasn't leaving his family destitute when he died anyway.

Generation after generation of Sterlings will reap the extra estimated billion-dollar benefit from the sale of the Clippers because it was discovered their patriarch felt about blacks the same way as a plantation owner.

No. Generation after generation of Sterlings will reap the billion-dollar benefit from the sale of the Clippers because he bought them for $12 million in 1981. I like how Scoop is using the punishment of Sterling, forcing the sale of his team, as some sort of culpable action that was in some way a positive designed to benefit Sterling. The NBA couldn't simply get rid of Sterling, they did what they could do, which was force him to sell his team. Now his racist ass has nothing to do with the NBA. It was a pretty extreme move, but now Scoop is upset about how this just made Donald Sterling more money. I have a feeling if the NBA didn't make Sterling sell the Clippers then Scoop would be upset about that.

There is a deeper discussion to be had here, but I'm not going to have it in this space because Scoop isn't interested in that discussion. He writes a column that only touches on issues of race and then stops writing. He's interested in bitching about every possible outcome rather than creating solutions or providing alternatives for what he thinks the outcome should have been.

Similar to the financial benefits still reaped today off the business that was slavery.
Okay, Scoop. Let's stay on the topic. I'm still waiting on the idea for a solution to this situation.

The sale of the Clippers is just another reminder of how America at the core works. Money over everything. Not black, not white, but green. Money first, and everything else in second place.

The NBA forced Sterling to sell the team. He sold the team. Now Scoop Jackson is mad Donald Sterling made money off the Clippers. Did he think they would go for $15.99 at a yard sale? NBA franchises are valuable and Sterling was going to be a rich man when forced to sell the team.

Damn the message we were supposed to learn. Damn whatever we were supposed to take away from the activities and behavior that yes, took away his team, but gifted four times the original business's worth.

The lesson is that Sterling is a racist and the NBA made a statement they aren't going to let openly racist people own an NBA team. Again, the NBA can't force Sterling to sell the team and then say he can't keep the money from selling the team. Just in the same way if Scoop Jackson wrote something offensive and was fired as a writer for ESPN I couldn't stop him from receiving a severance package. It wasn't a gift to Sterling, it was the value of his franchise as decided by what someone was willing to pay for said franchise.

Where is the expected justice -- now that the country could no longer deny who Sterling really was -- that he would be made to pay?


In a free, predominately white male-owned and operated enterprise system, if a dollar can be turned into $2 billion, more power to the person who can do it.

Actually, $12 million was turned into $2 billion. Also, if Steve Ballmer had not purchased the Clippers then Oprah would have been the one to turn Sterling's $12 million into $1.6 billion. I'm sure Scoop would have had an issue with a black, female woman paying to take over an NBA team from a racist. He would probably write something like, "This is how it is in America, to stop racism it costs $1.6 billion. RACISM CAN BE BOUGHT OFF IN AMERICA!"

Which means the only thing more American than Donald Sterling is America itself.

Great deep thought to end the column and then be out. There's nothing more American than bitching about something and having absolutely no clue how to fix it nor providing any solutions. It sucks Donald Sterling made so much money, but what was the alternative? The NBA forced Sterling to sell the Clippers, so he did, and now he made money off the sale. Maybe $2 billion is considered "too much" but is $600 million a much better lesson to Sterling when he bought the team for $12 million?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

3 comments Scoop Jackson Hates Plea Bargains

Just a heads up that there are 3 more spots open in the BotB Fantasy Football League. The league ID is 265989 and the password is "eckstein" if anyone else cares to join. 

God, I'm tired of talking about steroids and I'm tired of talking about A-Rod. I'm tired of talking about steroids, Biogenesis and A-Rod. Regardless, Scoop Jackson has decided to comment on the MLB investigation into Biogenesis and he doesn't understand why MLB is cutting deals with these cheaters. Well, MLB really only cut a deal with Ryan Braun, but Scoop must think this is the beginning of a trend. I'm not sure Scoop understands the appeals process and other aspects of the CBA. Players get a chance to appeal their suspension (except for A-Rod of course because Bud Selig wanted to choose to completely fucking ignore the CBA and decide he is going with the Roger Goodell "Detective, Prosecutor, Judge, Jury, Appellate Court" version of handing out punishment to A-Rod) and so MLB will try to cut a deal with the player to get the player to admit to PED use and then hand out a lesser sentence. Really, baseball has only done this once with Ryan Braun. This isn't a court of law, but this is the baseball version of a plea bargain and Scoop isn't having any of it. 

As we waited this week to see whether Major League Baseball would suspend more players, Alex Rodriguez reportedly was being offered a "deal" to save himself from being banned from baseball forever.

MLB had "voluminous evidence" against A-Rod, according to various accounts of the rumored negotiations.

And of course in the history of sports and life no organization has ever reduced a person's punishment in exchange for admitting the deed they are accused of doing. If Bud Selig is going to violate the CBA and the drug agreement with the union (okay, maybe I am overstating it a bit, but Selig originally wanted to use his commissioner's powers in this situation like Roger Goodell and David Stern use their powers when they want to show off the power they have) then MLB may as well just ensure A-Rod can't cut a deal to save himself either I guess. Let's just treat A-Rod completely different from the other Biogenesis guys and try to drive him from the United States if possible. Deport A-Rod!

But, before that happens, it appears from the outside as if MLB wants to look out for Rodriguez. It looks as though it wants to make sure the player who has continuously lied to its investigators -- probably more than Anthony Weiner has lied to his wife --

Relevant pop-culture-ish reference! This relevant political reference means this column feels relevant.

is punished in a way that is in his best interest, not the game's.

And here's the crazy: It did the same for Ryan Braun.

It's not really crazy. MLB avoids having to take the case to an arbitrator and gets the player to admit to using PED's. Getting the player to admit to PED use is a big deal. It pretty much seals the deal and prevents an appeal where a player could be off the hook on a technicality. Now baseball can ensure if Braun violates the drug policy for a second (third?) time, they have him admitting he used PED's which go a long way towards giving him a 245.333 game suspension or whatever new random suspension method baseball has concocted at that point.

Since when did "striking deals" after someone is found guilty become the method of operation?

A-Rod had not been found guilty when there were talks of striking a deal with him. There is a difference in being found guilty and having enough evidence to present a strong case for guilt. Rodriguez hasn't been found guilty yet, so MLB would have been giving him a chance to admit what he did before presenting their strong case of guilt. It's a pretty standard way of dealing with a person who has allegedly committed a wrong. Give them a chance to confess and lighten their sentence or work out a deal to lighten the sentence. MLB didn't give A-Rod a deal and A-Rod would apparently have not accepted a deal. At this point, it is too late for A-Rod to cut a deal because his suspension has been handed down. Had A-Rod wanted to avoid the press conferences, the constant media coverage of anything he says, and had MLB wanted to avoid going through an appeals process with A-Rod, they have could have offered him a deal to admit guilt.

When did the protection and preservation of guilty players' careers become agreed-upon, acceptable and standard procedure?

It's not really the preservation of the players' careers, but more giving the player an opportunity to continue his career if he is honest. The courts, MLB, and various other entities/organizations have been offering a lifeline like this for as long as I can remember. I'm sure if Pete Rose had been more forthcoming with MLB he could have avoided the lifetime banishment from baseball. By striking a deal, the player will agree to be found guilty and MLB doesn't have to worry about the time and effort to present their case to an arbitrator. Even in slam-dunk cases, there is always a chance the player will get off on a technicality, especially if the appeal takes place in Florida. So MLB gives the player incentive to essentially plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence and they don't do this for every player they have evidence used PED's.

In all of the backlash that seems to be coming out by the hour after Braun's and Rodriguez's Lance Armstrong-like moralistic falls from superstardom, one detail seems to be continually ignored: baseball's art of plea bargaining.

I'm reading a lot of this Lance Armstrong comparison crap when it comes to some of the more well-known Biogenesis-affiliated baseball players. It's not the same. Lance Armstrong lied for over a decade, ruined the name of several journalists and fellow cyclists who tried to out him and was remarkably brazen in his innocence. A-Rod and Braun have been brazen, but they haven't gotten to the level of ruining another person's reputation (I stand corrected. As rightly pointed out in the comments, Ryan Braun did try to hurt the reputation of the urine sample collector two years ago when he tested positive. I have forgotten about this. The only person whose reputation A-Rod has hurt is his own, because nobody likes him anymore) or suing a person for daring to accuse them of using PED's. I don't think A-Rod or Braun rise to the level of Lance Armstrong.

Even though players are protected (to a degree) by the collective bargaining agreement, a stronger system and mentality needs to be set in place that enforces Article XII (B) the same way the FBI or DEA enforces the law on criminals when its agents show up on their doorsteps wearing windbreakers.

Are these criminals tried on the spot and never given an opportunity to provide a defense or plea bargain at trial? The answer 99% of the time is "no." So this isn't a comparable situation. The FBI and DEA enforce the law on criminals, but there is a completely different "trial by jury" legal system that determines the punishment and guilt of these criminals. I won't disagree that possibly MLB needs to be harder on those accused of using PED's, but there has to be an evidence gathering process, a presentation of the evidence, and somewhere in that point MLB could decide to offer the player a deal in exchange for an admission of guilt.

How can the players take that law seriously if they know that, even after the law is broken and "voluminous evidence" is found against them, they still have the leverage to work out a deal?

I'm pretty sure the players have a chance to provide evidence or appeal to a third-party arbitrator. Even if the CBA says players can be disciplined, there is an appeal mechanism set up for the players to use. So rather than waste time going through this appeals process MLB will often give the player a chance to confess and then lighten the sentence. It's a very common practice, even outside of sports.

The line the game has put in place for its players not to cross is too soft. Players such as Braun and Rodriguez know that.

Partially correct, but mostly the incentive to cheat is too high for these players. They can make a lot of money using PED's. Even if MLB wants to make one violation of the drug policy a lifetime banishment then I am betting there would still be room for a plea bargain in certain cases. That's just part of life.

Who allows someone to strike a deal to make a foreseeable punishment more convenient for the crime committer after the people in power have notified him that basically "we got you"?

The United States legal system and various other organizations that will allow a person to confess to a crime and lessen the sentence received. Corporations will sometimes allow an employee to admit to wrongdoing and will choose not to seek prosecution in exchange for the employee not choosing to pursue any type of litigation or continue to fight the charges against him/her. There is a difference in the collecting evidence stage and the penalty stage. MLB has a lot of evidence on A-Rod, but they would rather A-Rod admit to his crime so they can avoid an appeal or a third-party arbitrator looking at the evidence. As they say, you never know what a jury will do. The same thing goes for an arbitrator. I don't know if MLB ever offered A-Rod a deal or if Bud Selig would have allowed a deal with A-Rod to be worked out. It seems like Selig really wanted to stick it to A-Rod.

Only baseball.

Read this paragraph: After MLB's original meeting with [Ryan] Braun on June 29, at which he refused to answer questions about Biogenesis, he requested a second meeting, a source familiar with the discussions told T.J. Quinn of ESPN's "Outside The Lines." Braun, after realizing the significance of the evidence against him from questions in the first meeting, decided to meet again to strike a deal that would limit his suspension to this season, according to the source.
Code words 1: "Strike a deal." Code words 2: "After realizing the significance of the evidence against him."

I realize MLB's form of punishment isn't the American legal system, but many times when defendants realize the strength of the case against him he will choose to see if he can cut a deal. If the prosecutor chooses to go this route then a deal will be cut to save the taxpayers the time and cost of a trial.

Baseball needs entitlement reform. It needs to start treating the law breakers of the game like real criminals if it truly wants the sanctity, morality, honor, trust and belief of the sport ever to return.

Real criminals are sometimes given a chance to accept a plea deal or bargain for a lesser sentence. It's not a sign of MLB's weakness they will accept a plea deal, but a sign of how badly they want to get past the Steroid Era and scandals like Biogenesis. They want all of these scandals to go away. 

It exposes MLB for how weak it really is, and it does nothing to make the players or their union respect the authority of the league.

Braun confessing to using PED's and accepting a lesser penalty without MLB having to publicly present their evidence is evidence he respected the authority of the league and the strength of the evidence against him. Perhaps the penalties for PED use are weak, but I don't believe lessening a sentence in exchange for an admission of guilt makes MLB look weak. Braun's been busted for violating the drug policy and admitted he did it. I think that's a big win.

It gives the players too large of an out, even in the face of due process.

By cutting deals, commissioner Bud Selig allows players to remain above the game -- which was the problem in the first place and is the problem now. It also keeps alive reasonable doubt and feeds speculation about whether baseball actually is going to take a true stand against what it keeps telling us is its biggest problem.

I can see this point of view. I can see why the first positive drug test for a PED would result in a lifetime ban, but then I can also see how a player should get a chance to mess up once and still remain eligible to play Major League Baseball after they serve a suspension. 

Prosecutors have always cut deals in the legal system, but, for the most part, those deals are done/made before the client/defendant is found guilty or if the client admits to guilt. 

Right, and the very few agreed-to plea deals in MLB are done before the player is found guilty and before he admits to any wrongdoing. That's part of the deal. The player admits to being guilty and he gets a lesser sentence. So MLB's form of a plea bargain is very similar to how the legal system cuts deals. Many in the public may have made up their mind on a player's guilt based on the evidence, but this doesn't mean the player has actually been found guilty of PED use. I think Scoop is getting this point confused. We know Ryan Braun used PED's (again), but the information had not been presented to the public nor had the information gone through the appeals process the union and MLB had set up. I don't love shorter suspensions for players, but it is part of the system. MLB wants the Biogenesis scandal to go away and wants to keep giving young stars like Ryan Braun a second chance (really a third chance, but how Braun's first positive test and appeal went down is one reason MLB will offer shorter suspensions for an admission of guilt to him).

Baseball's rules and CBA and players' union don't make it easy for the league to go after players. Sometimes concessions must be made, which is understood.

Except Scoop doesn't understand the very reason behind these concessions because he thinks making concessions isn't something MLB should ever do...unless they have to of course...but they shouldn't...unless these concessions have to be made...which should never happen...until it's necessary. 

It defers too much to the player's needs and demands, which the player should have lost the right to push for once he violated the rules.

Here's the issue. The player has lost the right to push for his needs and demands to be deferred to once he has been proven to violate the rules. As long as there is an appeals process the player hasn't officially violated the rules until he doesn't appeal his suspension or his appeal is denied. In fact, since it seems Scoop doesn't understand how the process he is writing this column about works I will write it down for him. I'll even over-simplify it for him.

1. Player X is investigated by MLB for having used PED's or violating the MLB drug policy in some way. Player X has not been shown to have committed anything wrong during this investigation portion.

2. Based on the evidence from the investigation, MLB determines whether Player X actually used PED's and determine the suspension or other penalty the player should face based on prior violations of the drug policy or whether they want to make an example of the player or not (I'm kidding about the last part...or am I?). At this point Player X would know he is being investigated and would have the option of telling MLB "I want to work out a deal in exchange for admitting guilt." MLB hasn't routinely worked out deals for players, but it's always an option. This is the part Scoop doesn't like.

3. MLB presents Player X and Player X's representatives with the evidence and state there will be a suspension of a certain number games for violating MLB's drug policy. Player X can decide at this point to accept the suspension or appeal the suspension. This is the part MLB occasionally would like to skip and why a select number of players are allowed to plea bargain. If Player X appeals then he is accused of violating the rules, but it's up to an arbitrator to decide if Player X did violate the rules or to shorten Player X's sentence. Player X is accused of violating the rules, but not necessarily guilty of it at this point. Obviously Player X did violate the rules if he admits to violating the league's drug policy rather than appeal the suspension.

4. If Player X appeals the suspension and wins then he is found to not have violated the rules and if the arbitrator upholds MLB's suspension based on the evidence then Player X is obviously guilty of violating the league's drug policy and will be suspended accordingly. If the arbitrator shortens Player X's suspension then Player X is still guilty, but just has a lesser sentence.

So plea bargaining, which doesn't happen all that often, takes place in Step 2 and is done in order to skip Parts 3 and 4 where the player could have his suspension overturned or reduced. I don't think plea bargaining is the key to ridding MLB of PED's, but in the case of a player like Ryan Braun, MLB felt it was the best policy to get him to admit to using PED's and ensuring he got suspended.

It's understandable that A-Rod or any other player facing sanction might question the impartiality of a commissioner who is a former owner and investigators paid by the owners. But Selig is only feeding the public version of those doubts by not fully punishing Braun, given the evidence we've been led to believe the commissioner has in hand.

The potential for additional players to still be able to request deals is what my grandmother would call asinine.

Your grandmother would also know that no other players struck a plea bargain deal and no other player may have been offered a plea bargain deal. All of the other MLB players found guilty of using PED's through Biogenesis accepted their suspension, so this plea bargain given to Braun isn't offered to every player. 

This is about after-the-facts. About how players shouldn't get to make deals after lying in the face of baseball and after enough evidence has been found against them to prove guilt.

There is enough evidence in the opinion of MLB and Bud Selig, but, and I can't emphasize this enough, anything can happen at an appeal. We saw this almost two years ago when Ryan Braun got his first suspension for using PED's overturned by an arbitrator due to the chain of custody being broken during the testing process. It's not like Braun had been found guilty by an arbitrator and then MLB just randomly offered to shorten Braun's suspension. The entire appeal process was skipped and Braun was suspended. Not everyone may agree there was enough evidence to prove Braun's guilt and that's the point of cutting a deal with Braun. 

And how they should be held unequivocally responsible for "disrespecting the game" with the choices they keep getting caught making.

I agree with this, but once a player confesses to using PED's then that player is being held responsible for the decision he made. Maybe he isn't being held responsible to the full extent of what MLB could do, but MLB is getting the player to admit guilt, which is very important. Think about it, if Ryan Braun had accepted a plea deal instead of taking it to an arbitrator the first time he violated MLB's drug policy then this next instance (if there was one) could have resulted in a stronger sentence than a 65 game suspension. It's a good deal for both sides. Braun gets a lesser sentence and MLB has him admitting he was guilty, removing all doubt.

Much like curing cancer or solving world hunger, I don't think MLB can rid themselves completely of PED's forever and always. It's just not realistic. There is way too much incentive for a player to bend the rules of MLB's drug policy. Much of this whole Biogenesis case has been about Bud Selig saving his legacy and going hard on PED users as a reaction to baseball's Steroid Era leaving a black stain on the baseball record books. If Selig wants to do his best to rid MLB of PED's then maybe penalties should start at a one year suspension for the first violation and a lifetime suspension for the second violation. I do know offering a plea bargain to select players in exchange for a confession isn't an often-used tactic. These baseball players don't believe they will get caught using PED's or else they wouldn't use them, so I doubt they would rely on cutting a deal with MLB to shorten their suspension if they did get caught.

I think Scoop is underestimating how important a confession of PED use is to MLB and how anything can happen during the appeals process.

Monday, June 25, 2012

3 comments Scoop Jackson Thinks Michael Jordan Should Do Jedi Mind Tricks in Order to Draft Anthony Davis

Scoop Jackson wants to let Charlotte Bobcat fans know all is not lost. There is still time to find a way to draft Anthony Davis. All it will take is Michael Jordan convincing the New Orleans Hornets it is more in the Bobcats interest to draft Anthony Davis than it is in the Hornets' interest to draft him. That doesn't sound so hard does it? Many times NBA teams will not draft a player because another team needs that player. We've seen this happen all of between zero and zero times. Anyway, Scoop Jackson thinks the Hornets don't need Anthony Davis. After all, they have Jason Smith. What else do they need?

Charlotte Bobcats GM Rich Cho sent out a message not long after his team lost the chance to nab Anthony Davis with the No. 1 pick in next month's NBA draft.

"The last time we picked No. 2 we got Durant," he said.

This is a really good point and why Bobcats fans need to step away from the ledge a little bit. Brad Beal has all the potential to be a franchise guy and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has the characteristics of a great all-around player. If Andre Drummond decides he likes basketball he could very well make a huge impact in the NBA. I'm going all "Jon Gruden" on this draft. I love it. There is life after Anthony Davis. Having said that, I think he should be the #1 overall pick. Any team that doesn't already have an established power forward and center should choose Davis. He's not a guaranteed franchise guy, but he is still developing and has incredible instincts on the basketball court.

But this time, the No. 2 pick isn't going to help his squad the way Kevin Durant did in 2007 when Cho was assistant GM of the Sonics.

I disagree. I think Kidd-Gilchrist or Beal can be franchise guys. What's so funny is Scoop Jackson tells us the #2 pick isn't going to help the Bobcats squad like Durant helped the Sonics, yet he believes Kidd-Gilchrist could easily be the #1 overall pick. It seems weird Scoop thinks Kidd-Gilchrist couldn't help the Bobcats, but he also thinks he is worth the #1 overall pick. The Bobcats aren't that strong at the wing position to where they could pass up a franchise-type player who plays SG/SF. So I think taking Beal/Kidd-Gilchrist would be advisable.

Unless Cho's boss, Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, can convince the New Orleans Hornets that Davis is not the answer to their drama.

(moving a medallion back in forth like a pendulum in front of Dell Demps' face) "You are getting very sleepy. You do not want to draft Anthony Davis. He is young, skinny and not the answer to your problems. You want to draft Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and then trade for D.J. Augustin."

Like that's really going to happen. We all know the chances of hearing those words come out of David Stern's mouth are as likely as the chances were of hearing RG3's name come out of Roger Goodell's mouth after "Indianapolis Colts" a month ago.

It's so unlikely Scoop Jackson just had to write an entire column about what a good idea this seems to be.

But as crazy as it sounds, for the Hornets, Kidd-Gilchrist is the right pick.

As much as I like Kidd-Gilchrist, I don't believe this to be true. Anthony Davis provides defense and shot-blocking ability that can positively affect the entire team's defense. A center who can block shots makes defense easier for the entire rest of the team.

There's a gaunt line between a need and a want. Missing in all of the post-lottery uproar of league conspiracies concerning the top of the draft order is that teams are sometimes forced to choose between the two.

Anthony Davis is a need and a want. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (I prefer Brad Beal to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) is a need and a want. Though it has sometimes bit teams in the ass to do this (and sometimes it hasn't), the tall and talented guy wins out.

This year that player is Davis, the NBA's can't-miss version of Andrew Luck. But the Hornets don't need him. He's a want, a desire.

The Hornets don't need Davis? They were tied for 20th in blocked shots this year and 24th in rebounds per game. Yes, they were 12th in rebounding differential, but more rebounding and blocked shots never hurt a team. Scoop wrote this before the Hornets traded Emeka Okafor to the Wizards, but they still needed Anthony Davis before they made this trade.

How the hell is Anthony Davis a want and not a need when the Hornets frontcourt consisted of:

Emeka Okafor
Jason Smith
Gustavo Ayon
Lance Thomas
Darryl Watkins

Yes, the Hornets could re-sign Carl Landry and/or Chris Kaman, but does this look like a frontcourt that could use Anthony Davis? I think so. It's not that the Hornets DON'T need Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but they could sign restricted free agent Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Amiu is slowly learning to score in the NBA, and Jarrett Jack can also provide scoring. Some of the scoring issues for the Hornets arose last year because Gordon was out for most of this season. The Hornets also have the #10 overall pick, so it will be easier to find a scorer in that spot than it will be to find a guy like Anthony Davis. In short, they should pick Anthony Davis because he is a need and a want.

The Bobcats, on the other hand, and with almost desperate severity, need Davis.

Charlotte was tied for 5th in the NBA in blocks, 29th in rebounding, and 29th in rebounding differential. They definitely do need Anthony Davis, but I'm pretty sure the Hornets won't hold off on drafting him because the Bobcats really, really need him.

Not because they finished with the worst winning percentage in NBA history, but simply because no other player in the draft balances their roster like he would. No other player in the draft comes close to completing them.

Unfortunately for the Bobcats, Anthony Davis also fits the New Orleans Hornets roster.

Charlotte already has three players who can legitimately score at three different positions: D.J. Augustin at the point, Gerald Henderson at small forward and Kemba Walker off the bench.

Well they definitely don't need a franchise-type scorer and defender like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist then. They already have D.J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson. There's absolutely no need for either Beal or Kidd-Gilchrist to play the small forward position, no matter how good they may end up being in the NBA. Who even needs a small forward when you have D.J. Augustin on your roster?

The Bobcats' problem -- well, there are many, but for the sake of this column we'll just focus on one or two -- is that they can't stop other teams from scoring. Plus, they don't have one player who can make it difficult for opponents to score.

So why don't the Hornets just not draft Anthony Davis so the Bobcats can? It's just common courtesy.

Davis would change that for Charlotte. Immediately. No disrespect, but an upgrade from Bismack Biyombo in the middle is urgently necessary.

No disrespect to you but Bismack Biyombo is 20 years old and is a natural power forward. Let's not call him out since he's been playing organized basketball for a few years and had to play out of position this entire year because Michael Jordan is such a kick-ass owner.

With three centers and a 7-foot starting power forward (Jason Smith), the Hornets don't lack at Davis' position

Yes, but the three centers were Emeka Okafor, Darryl Watkins and Gustavo Ayon. If the Hornets didn't select Anthony Davis because they already have any of these players then Dell Demps should be fired immediately. You don't pass on Anthony Davis because you already have Jason least not if you expect to keep your job.

If they draft Davis, they'll have to make some deals or begin cutting players to make room.

The Hornets have already started doing this and it is a good thing. As painful as that may be, I'm pretty sure the Hornets could play Ayon at power forward and somehow manage to get the audacity to cut Darryl Watkins. I know keeping Darryl Watkins is a high priority and all, but I think to make room for Anthony Davis you cut some of the players that led the Hornets to the fourth worst record in the NBA during the 2011-2012 season.

If I'm Michael Jordan, this is what I'm selling.

If I'm Dell Demps, that's not what I'm buying. Let's see how this conversation would go...

(The phone rings and Dell Demps picks it up)

(Michael Jordan's voice in the background) "Oh shit, I just missed that putt! Here is the $10,000 I owe you! Double or nothing?"

(Dell Demps) "Hello? Anyone there?"

(Michael Jordan starts speaking) "Hold your horses, man. I'm getting to you."

(Dell Demps) "Is there anything I can do for you? You called me."

(Michael Jordan is yelling in the background at a golf cart girl who offered him Powerade over Gatorade) "You stupid excuse for a woman. I should have you banned from working at this course. Don't you know I'm a Gatorade man? You should know everything about me because I am so important."

(Dell Demps hangs up out of frustration...two hours later his phone rings again) "Hello?"

(Michael Jordan) "You hung up on me earlier. I hate you. Hey, don't draft Anthony Davis. We want him. Do this for me."

(Dell Demps) "I'm pretty sure we are drafting Davis. Why would I not draft him?"

(Michael Jordan) "Because Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a better player. Plus you already have Jason Smith and three other centers on your rost---"

(Dell Demps begins laughing insanely to the point he begins choking and then hangs up the phone)

Not getting the No. 1 pick wouldn't bother me as much as not getting a shot at getting Anthony Davis.

Yes, but getting the #1 overall pick is the same thing as getting Anthony Davis. You get the #1 overall pick, you get Anthony Davis.

If I'm New Orleans -- and if it's the gospel Jordan is speaking -- I'm listening.

Well, there is a reason you aren't an NBA General Manager then.

Because contrary to what everyone else is saying, Davis is not the Hornets' answer, not in the way a player like MKG would be.

Really? I'd love to hear the logic behind this. I could agree with this if I heard good, informed logic behind this statement.

(Spoiler alert: There isn't good logic behind this statement.)

If the Hornets are serious about building a team that will make the playoffs in the near future, they need offense now at a position where they don't have anyone to score.

The Hornets could have Eric Gordon, the team's leading scorer last year, and a guy who could end up being a really nice #2 option on a playoff team. The Hornets could re-sign him, plus they could decide to draft a scorer with the #10 pick in the upcoming draft. I can think of a few guys that would fit the bill in that spot. So the Hornets really, really need some scoring, but drafting Anthony Davis will have a positive net effect on the defense, which in turn could help the offense. A full season of Eric Gordon and the #10 draft pick could also help the offense., so I'm not quite as concerned about the offense as Scoop Jackson seems to be. Besides, no one said the Hornets were going to turn it all around in one season. They draft a defensive presence this year and worry about offense at a later date.

They need explosiveness, not a defensive presence who is going to need time to find himself offensively.

I really think Eric Gordon can be this guy for explosiveness. My opinion is that it's easier to find a guy who can score than to find a defensive presence in the paint. A guy like Anthony Davis who can block shots helps to erase mistakes by the perimeter defense and helps to turn defense into offense.

They need a player who in the next few years might be the next Paul Pierce, not someone who before his career is over could the the next Tim Duncan.

Read that sentence again.

You've read it again now? Great. Scoop Jackson says the Hornets need a guy like Paul Pierce, not Tim Duncan. Mind you, Tim Duncan has four NBA titles to Paul Pierce's one NBA title. Also, please remember that Tim Duncan is in the running to be the best power forward to ever play in the NBA. I love Paul Pierce, but come on, every team needs a player who before his career is over could be the next Tim Duncan.

Notice how under Scoop's logic the Spurs would have never drafted Duncan because they already had David Robinson on the roster? It seems managing to make room for Duncan worked out for the Spurs, huh?

I think if you have the choice between the next Tim Duncan and the next Paul Pierce you really don't have bad options. Either way, saying Davis could be the next Tim Duncan is terrible reasoning for not drafting him. That sounds like great reasoning TO draft Anthony Davis.

That's going to be a hard, almost impossible sell with all the hyping of Davis' uniqueness and upside. Even for a team with a roster full of players at his position, what Davis brings may be worth clearing a table already set.

Yes, but Jordan just needs to tell the Hornets HE wants Anthony Davis and provide all the previous information that Scoop has provided. I'm sure Dell Demps will understand and let the Bobcats have a shot at drafting Davis.

Jordan needs to go deep, take the Hornets through his own personal history. Remind them of what happened in 1984 when a team with a higher pick (Portland) chose another great big man from Kentucky (Sam Bowie) and passed on a special shooting guard. (And then Jordan can have Cho follow that up and remind them about the Greg Oden-Durant outcome.)

Maybe Dell Demps can remind Jordan what happened when the Magic selected Dwight Howard over Emeka Okafor, David Robinson over Armen Gilliam, Tim Duncan over Keith Van Horn. I know these aren't directly analogous situations to the Jordan/Bowie or Oden/Durant decisions, but Davis hasn't had any injuries in college close to what Bowie and Oden had in college. Oden and Bowie had injuries in college, which weren't definite red flags necessarily, but showed in retrospect they could have injury issues that would affect their ability to play in the NBA. Anthony Davis has no such injury issues.

Jordan needs to remind the Hornets that only twice since he won his first NBA championship ring have there been teams (2004 Detroit Pistons and 2008 Boston Celtics) that won NBA championships without a player on the roster averaging 20 points.

So the key is to find a guy who can score 20 points in a game and a team has a shot to win an NBA title? You know what else these Pistons and Celtics teams had? Great defense supported by a power forward/center who could rebound and block shots. Anthony Davis seems to fit this description.

He needs to then fly to New Orleans, show them the six rings he collected and enlighten them how he did that without having a "can't-miss" center on any one of those teams.

Then the Hornets can remind Michael Jordan he didn't need a "can't-miss" center on any of those teams because he is the greatest basketball players of all-time. Then the the Hornets can remind Jordan the teams since 1990 that have won the NBA Title without an elite or Hall of Fame center are the 1990 Pistons, the Jordan-era Bulls, 2004 Pistons, and 2011 Mavericks. Take away the Jordan-era Bulls and 12 of the last 15 NBA Champions had an elite or Hall of Fame center. So as important as a 20 ppg scorer seems to be, an elite center is important as well.

So before you dismiss this and never read another one of my columns, remember that crazier things have happened. In 1993, the Orlando Magic traded the No. 1 overall pick, Chris Webber, to the Golden State Warriors for the No. 3 pick, Penny Hardaway, and three future first-round picks.

Yes, and how did that work out for the Magic? Think the Magic would have enjoyed Webber and Shaq playing beside each other rather than enjoying a few seasons of a healthy Penny Hardaway? I would venture to say they would like to have this trade back.

It comes down to how desperate/serious the Bobcats are in pursuing a dream. Does Jordan have enough Bishop Juan skill as an owner to persuade Hornets owner Tom Benson that Davis is not in his team's best interest?

Probably not. I don't think giving up a boatload of picks for Davis would be beneficial to Jordan either. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Brad Beal will be a really good player. I'd take Beal if I am Jordan.

Can the Hornets be persuaded to believe that MKG's career could at some point during the length of his rookie contract begin to replicate the original AD: Adrian Dantley?

It's possible they could be persuaded of this. Of course the Hornets could also be persuaded Anthony Davis could be another Tim Duncan and draft him #1 overall. As much as Scoop Jackson seems to think this is a bad thing, I don't see it that way.

The Bobcats' need has to supersede the Hornets' want.

Again, this is a need for the Hornets also. Maybe not as big of a need as the Bobcats have, but a need nonetheless. Also, the Hornets don't give a shit what the Bobcats' need is. The Hornets have to do what is wrong for their team.

There's a saying in the NBA when it comes to the draft: Always take the best player available. That player might not be Anthony Davis.

It might not be. Of course Davis may be the best player available. Either way, when the Hornets have the chance to draft a player with Davis' potential, whether he is a need or a want, I think they have to draft him. Re-sign Eric Gordon as the required 20 point scorer and draft a scoring-type guy with the 10th pick. I'm not sure Michael Jordan is good enough to convince Dell Demps to pass over Anthony Davis.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

5 comments Scoop It's Not Unfair, It's Just Business

I was thinking of tackling the Bill Simmons-Malcolm Gladwell litany of emails today, but even I don't hate myself that much. There's probably three posts worth of discussion contained in the emails sent between two people who count themselves as their own biggest fans. I'm not sure I can subject myself to that much self-congratulatory and backslapping among two writers who have the potential to break the Insufferability Scale, which is a scale I just created. Fortunately, Scoop Jackson is always here to help us out in a pinch. He thinks its just so unfair these games NFL front offices play with running backs. He uses Matt Forte as Exhibit A when it comes to players who suffer because of these games, mostly because there is really only an Exhibit A (Forte) or Exhibit B (Ray Rice) in regard to this issue. Most other elite running backs have gotten paid handsomely for their services, which calls the idea NFL teams are constantly playing games involving contract extensions for elite running backs into question. Of course Scoop admits $7.7 million is a pretty nice figure for one season, but it just covers up the unfairness of this entire contract mess in his opinion.

And yes, if I was Matt Forte I would want a new contract. And yes, if were the Chicago Bears I would be slightly nervous about giving him a new contract.

Let's put this Matt Forte dilemma into a different perspective.

Apparently Bill Simmons wrote this part of the column because there is a long, drawn-out analogy that not only appears to serve no purpose other than to kill space, but it isn't a very good analogy either.

Say you are a young chef doing a stint at a very successful restaurant,

Ok. You are a young chef doing a stint at a very successful restaurant.

Now the restaurant isn't yours and you aren't the head chef, but you are at the sous level. The plates you create begin to get recognized around the country and you are being called one of the nation's best young chefs -- one most other five-star restaurants would kill to have in their kitchens. You're career is beginning to buzz.

As is my brain buzzing because I would most likely be sampling the wine as I cook the food. In related news, I would probably be a terrible chef who cooks while drunk. Carry on with your long, drawn-out analogy.

Say the restaurant at which you work recognizes your talent, but doesn't honor it.

Ok. The restaurant at which you work recognizes your talent, but doesn't honor it. What's the point of me saying these things again?

"We need to take these people to a hospital."

"A hospital? What is it?"

"It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now."

The owner, perhaps the chef whose name is on the establishment, doesn't necessarily want you to leave, but he's not giving you any reasons to stay. You have options and are in demand. So you leave. Time to test the market.

But what if the chef offers you a 1100% raise to stay at the establishment for one more year? I can't believe the horror this scenario creates! Not only would you have to continue working the same job you have worked at for the past few years, but you would get a large raise to do this. How unfair is this?

(I've gone ahead and spoiled the point of this story. This is a long, drawn-out example to prove how unfair the Bears have treated Matt Forte. Of course, in order to prove his point Scoop Jackson leaves out the part where the chef would get a 1100% raise to essentially do the same job. See, that would help to sink Scoop's point. As we've learned repeatedly when dealing with sportswriters, they leave out facts if these facts don't support their position.)

Say you then open your own restaurant, and within a few years, you get the James Beard Foundation Award as the best chef in America and after that your restaurant is voted the best restaurant in America by Gourmet, Food and Wine and Travel and Leisure magazines.

This would be a shocking turn of events for a chef who cooks drunk and his specialty dish would be white rice, butter, cayenne pepper and salt mixed in.

A few years later Time includes you in the TIME100, a list of the "100 most influential people in the world."

I would prefer to be on People Magazine's "100 Most Beautiful People List." I'm willing to have my picture taken without any makeup on, if necessary.

The point?

There is no point of course! Scoop just managed to kill space AND our brain cells while making such a terrible comparison. Two birds. One stone. Zero grade for the bad analogy.

Finding your true worth when others might not see or fully appreciate it has its privileges.

I'm not sure if there is a worse analogy than comparing Matt Forte's inability to get a contract extension from the Bears, followed by him getting hit with the franchise tag, to a chef who becomes very good at his job and opens up his own widely successful franchise. Maybe a worse analogy would be comparing Matt Forte to an aging pornstar, but I know Scoop doesn't want to infringe on Bill Simmons' copywritten vaguely sexist material of athlete/pornstar comparisons.

(Sometimes I think if Bill Simmons got fired by ESPN he would end up writing his own blog which at some point would feature a20,000 word column on pornstars and who their athlete comparable would be.)

Sometimes, it becomes your blessing in disguise. In the case of Matt Forte with the Chicago Bears, he may need to follow that lead.

Absolutely he should do this. Matt Forte should leave the Chicago Bears the first chance he gets to sign a contract with another team. He will do this. Right now, he is getting paid $7.7 million dollars to play for the Bears next year and he should enjoy this pay raise while he can and hope he doesn't get hurt this season. Scoop will now begin to whine about how unfair Forte is being treated, but it is business. The fact Forte can go somewhere else in one year (assuming the Bears don't franchise him again) shows you this is a business.

Follow the path of a world-class chef and use it as a guide and inspiration for what can happen to someone when he does the opposite of what everyone seems to be telling him to do.

What? No one in Scoop's analogy told the chef to stay at his current restaurant and not try to open his own restaurant. Why do I remember Scoop's analogy better than he does?

Sometimes it's just not smart to listen to the world when your heart is telling you to do something different.

The world seems to be telling Forte to take what the Bears are currently offering him and run. And catch … and block … and continue to be the second-most important offensive player on the roster.

So it would be smarter to hold out of training camp in order to demand a new contract or just ouright demand a trade? How's that working out so far for Forte?

Stop holding out and accept the franchise tag, which will pay him $7.7 million this season (a significant upgrade from what he made last season, when he was paid $600,000), have the same season he had last season before he was injured then come back to the table and get the contract from the Bears that he was looking for when this whole thing began.

Matt Forte can do whatever he wants. So far he hasn't accepted the franchise tag tender and that is his choice. $7.7 million is a lot of money to do the exact same job he was doing last season and I think the odds of the Bears franchising him two years in a row aren't exactly great. I could be wrong. I know Forte wants to get paid, but $7.7 million for one year would make him one of the highest paid running backs in the NFL. Then next season he can chase his big contract. Yes, it will suck he gets a contract one year later than he wants, but $7.7 million can buy a lot of other things Forte wants.

But when Forte's contemporaries around the league are continuously being compensated with more secure, long-term packages, why should he be the one in the group to settle for less?

Because it doesn't appear as of now he will be getting a long-term contract whether he signs the franchise tender or not. It is June, so it is still early. That's important to know. There is still time for an agreement to be reached. I'm not saying it is right or it is wrong, but the Bears and Forte can't come together on a deal, so Forte may not get a deal. Why not get paid $7.7 million to play this year and hope to become a free agent next year?

Take a look at these deals:
  • LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia (five-year extension/$45M/$20M guaranteed)
  • Chris Johnson, Tennessee (six years/$56M)
  • Adrian Peterson, Minnesota (seven years/$96M)
  • Arian Foster, Houston (five years/$43.5M)

  • McCoy and Foster are younger than Matt Forte and they both got the shortest deals among these four running backs. Not to mention, the Chris Johnson contract may only serve as a warning to NFL teams wanting to prevent a player from continuing to hold out by giving him a large contract. I feel like this is important to know.

    His play has earned him the right to be in the same conversations with those other running backs. His play has also allowed him to decline the "strong offer" (words of former GM Jerry Angelo) Chicago initially put on the table or the franchise tag that they've placed on him since his initial decline of that offer.

    At least Chicago has shown some willingness to negotiate. That's somewhat of a good thing. I agree that Forte's play has earned him the right to be in the conversation with those other running backs. He believes this too, which is why he hasn't signed the franchise tender yet. At a certain point, and we aren't at that point yet, he is going to have to decide whether it hurts him more to sit out or hurts him more to be on the field making $7.7 million. For Scoop Jackson, this seems like an easy decision, but I would argue the Bears and Matt Forte need Forte on the field for the first game of the season.

    They have options.

    And the reason they are continuing to hold out is because they are tired of the games.

    It's not games. It is business. Refusing to give a player a long-term contract and offering him the franchise tag isn't a game. It is a strategy the union has approved of by approving the use of the franchise tag. The Bears can't agree to a long-term deal with Forte, so they offer him a lucrative one year deal in lieu of a long contract extension.

    Games -- not all, but too many -- teams play in which they want the player to overproduce and when the player does they hold it against them in contract negotiations;

    Teams do tend to use running backs a lot and then worry about the mileage on that running back once he is prepared to be a free agent. Think of it this way though...if a running back like Forte doesn't get as many touches he has gotten over the four years, then he may not be among the best running backs in the league and may possibly not be due such a large contract. It goes both ways. If Forte's receptions and rushing attempts are decreased for each season, he may not be considered an elite running back. Maybe he would be. Maybe he would be Michael Turner or DeAngelo Williams and still receive a good contract offer when he is a free agent because he doesn't have a lot of mileage on him. It's hard to say for sure.

    ownership saying the "shelf life of a running back is short" as a new way of devaluing a player regardless of what he does and using it as leverage against the value of the player's pending contract.

    Unfortunately, this is true. Running backs do have a low shelf life. Teams use this against a player in negotiations. Of course, as Scoop Jackson pointed out, this is simply a negotiating tactic and it hasn't prevented NFL teams from signing running backs to large contract extensions prior to this season.

    But in the contract talks, the team will bring up the fact that Rice has averaged over 280 carries and 72 receptions a year over the past three seasons.

    So now he's overworked. Now, they'll use that as the reason Rice's 25-year-old body is closer to 32 in football years.

    While this does sound silly, Ray Rice is a small running back so there has to be a natural concern about the beating his body has taken. Again, if Rice were used less then he may have less value on the free agent market or the Ravens may be less inclined to offer him a large contract.

    And the reason he's damaged? The same people refusing to extend his contract are the people who had coaches call his number and run plays for him to outperform his previous deal.

    The idea Ozzie Newsome is telling John Harbaugh what plays to run and who to run those plays for is sort of laughable to me. The Ravens have used Rice a lot, but Ozzie Newsome isn't dictating to the Ravens coaching staff how often they have to use Rice. The Ravens coaching staff use Rice because he is a great running back. Let's not forget the Ravens have so far refused to extend Joe Flacco's contract as well, so the Ravens aren't exactly handing out money right now.

    (If this is the new standard procedure of how NFL teams are going to monetarily access running backs, the entire structure of rookie contracts for players at that position needs to change.)

    So is Scoop Jackson suggesting running backs should receive more money in their rookie contracts because they have a shorter shelf life? If he thinks the market for running backs being taken early in the draft is soft now, just wait until running backs request bigger contracts or more guaranteed money in their rookie contracts. Teams will definitely not be eager to draft running backs high in the draft at that point.

    It's straight games.

    It's really not straight games though. It is business. No, NFL teams don't always treat their players kindly. The Bears are concerned with giving a declining running back big money in a new contract. The Bears claim to be concerned that Forte's knees won't hold up. This may be a real concern or it may be a bullshit reason given by the Bears so as not to offer Forte a long-term contract. I don't believe it is "straight games" any more than it is "straight business." I think Forte has earned a long-term contract, but his worth to the Bears doesn't seem to match Forte's own perceived worth. The Bears do have an obligation to their fans to spend money on players the Bears deem worthy of money being spent on. The Bears can't only do what the fans want. Many fans are idiots. They want Forte re-signed, but will immediately criticize Forte and the Bears if it turns out he struggles and isn't able to live up to his contract.

    Games that the NFL seems to be playing, games certain players are tired of having to play.

    Talk to the union about that. I believe there was a great chance for something to change last offseason during the lockout. If the players are tired of games, that was their chance to say so and they didn't do it.

    Players in the NFL already have very little power. The only true leverage they have in contract negotiations is the value of their past productivity.

    Most employees of any company have very little power. I can't demand a raise or simply not show up to work because I want more money. If anything, Forte has more power because he has a specific set of skills that allows him to be highly compensated by his current team and greatly wanted by other teams. $7.7 million is nothing to sneeze at and Forte doesn't have to worry about being fired if he doesn't show up for work in August because other teams will make offers for him immediately should the Bears release Forte. So I would argue while Forte is stuck with the Bears for the time being, he has more power than the average American employee has. He can not show up for work and doesn't have to worry about the results of being fired due to his specific set of skills. Forte has some sense of leverage.

    But then again this is business, and we are dealing with an organization that underpaid -- and at times undervalued -- Walter Payton.

    Let's remember that right now the New Orleans Saints have franchised Drew Brees and appear to be undervaluing him, if you believe the low contract offer is why Brees hasn't signed their contract offer yet. Brees is a quarterback, one of the top 3 players at his position and the Saints are not exactly piling money up at his door (in Brees' opinion) to re-sign him. Organizations franchise their best players and sometimes have tough negotiations with these players. NFL teams want to pay as little as possible for as much production as possible and NFL players want as much compensation as possible for their skills. Sometimes each sides reach an impasse and this is business.

    So regardless of how you feel about Matt Forte and how he and his agent are handling this contract situation with the Bears, understand this: They have just as much right to hold out as the Bears do to play the contract game the way they seem to be playing it.

    I'm not sure anyone is arguing otherwise. Understand this: The fact Forte can hold out shows how much leverage and power he truly has as an employee. If Scoop Jackson refuses to write for because he wants more money, he is getting fired. If I refuse to work until I get a raise, I am getting fired as well. The difference in Forte, Scoop and myself is if Forte gets fired he gets exactly what he wants, which is free agency, and he will probably be signed by a team within two weeks while probably making more guaranteed money than he has ever made before. He would get exactly what he wants. If Scoop and I get fired there is no guarantee we aren't collecting unemployment for six months hoping someone will hire us, while also praying we make as much money in our new job as we made in our old job. Forte has bargaining power and he is currently using it. I don't cry for him.

    No side is right in this situation, but Forte shouldn't be looked at as being wrong. He is standing his ground and doing what he feels is necessary for his career.

    It's his career. Just as it is their team.

    Which is why you shouldn't accuse the Bears of playing games by negotiating difficultly with Forte. It seems Scoop sort of understands the position the Bears are in, but he doesn't want to fully acknowledge the business aspect of it, but instead accuses them of playing games. It stinks for Matt Forte the running back market is soft and the Bears aren't handing out huge extensions to running backs easily. He is making $7.7 million this year and will be a free agent next year. It's not a terrible short-term or long-term situation to be in as long as Forte has another great year for the Bears.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    4 comments One Win

    (We've had a day of creativity at BotB. Read through J.S.'s brilliant post and then go to Dylan's post below which answers philosophical questions about the NBA)

    Naturally enough, I've read a pretty large number of articles on sports. Unfortunately, some of these have been written by Scoop Jackson. Scoop has demonstrated jaw dropping poor judgement, stunning lack of creativity, lack of any sense of proportionality and even downright delusion. But, I suppose one could argue, at least Scoop was trying to say something here. This...I don't know what this is supposed to be.

    NBA playoff fear: OKC Thunder storm

    They're clouding the future for anyone who has to face OKC in the NBA playoffs


    We're only one game in, but it's already time to face the factuality

    Already the very first outline of the mountain of fluff in this article appears. This is going to break all Universe records for filler, and this should tip you off. Factuality? Yeah, of course, "factuality", that everyday, common term, so often used in basketball analysis.

    If the other teams in the West don't come with their A+ games each time they step onto the court to face the Thunder, they'll be collecting more L's than Penny Marshall's sweaters.

    (You might need to be over 35 to get that one.)

    I'm not over 35 but I'm sure it's terrible anyway.

    Playing Oklahoma City right now? A time to fear. A time to recognize. The Thunder are for real. Seriously and dangerously real. Not just because of their 107-103 Game 1 victory at home over the Nuggets to open up the playoffs on Sunday night, and not just because they avoided the upset fate that had Los Angeles, San Antonio and Orlando losing home-court advantage one game into their series.

    I don't know what you mean by "real". They are pretty good, I think everyone agrees on that. In fact, nearly everyone has them ahead of Dallas in the chase for the Larry O'Brien trophy. Maybe even ahead of the Spurs, as people question their post defense. It's possible they are as high as the second favourite in the Western Conference right now. On Betfair currently, the Thunder are trading at $10.50 (equates to about a 9.5% chance to win it all). Boston, who have been to two of the past three Finals, are $9.20 (about 10.8%). Hardly slept on and requiring a "wake the fuck up on the Thunder!" column from Scoop.

    Anyway, you say this isn't a kneejerk reaction to their Game 1 victory (which was deeply tainted by a non call as Scoop soon concedes), but you have a long and notorious history of dumb kneejerk reactions, so why is today any different?

    This is more. They are more.

    More. I get it now. Before, I was thinking they were less - turns out they were more.

    Don't let the two superstars fool you. Don't think that what Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley said on TNT after Game 1 -- they both used the word "worried" when they suggested the Thunder won't go far relying on two players scoring 72 of the team's 107 total points -- is law. Don't think that Oklahoma City is two elite players surrounded by a bunch of Bobcats.

    To be fair to Scoop, this is a remarkably good description of the Thunder. They are so shallow offensively, and the Bobcats for the last three years or so have been just a train wreck offensively. But they were chock full of solid, hardworking defensive players, of the Perkins/Sefolosha/Mohammad/Ibaka variety. So Scoop unwittingly stumbled into some insightful saying that this was not the case.

    Don't be surprised if six weeks from now, we're still writing columns about them.

    Just because Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook duo-handedly saved the Thunder from coming out of the gates like the Lakers, the Spurs and the Magic, don't fall into a conviction that a) this isn't a team; or b) those two aren't enough to win series. Plural.

    I'm deeply sceptical, they have two scorers who are, at the end of the day, very inexperienced in playoff basketball (relatively speaking), minimal at best offensive post presence, with a young coach and will be conceding home floor for three straight series. This would be unprecidented really but I can't say it's a stupid comment in and of itself. I can say it's stupid because Scoop Jackson wrote it.

    The Thunder have players at every position.

    Can't tell you how important this is kids. Simply by not starting games with four point guards, the Thunder already have a headstart on six teams in the playoff field.

    Players who know their roles but aren't just role players. James Harden. Eric Maynor. Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha.

    I can't think of a group of players who more quintessentially define the term "role players" as much as this group. This is exactly what a role player is - players exactly like that. I mean, Lamar Odom, would be a role player but not just a role player. Jamal Crawford maybe. George Hill might sneak in there. Paul Millsap. Not Eric Maynor.

    And they have benefited from the addition of Kendrick Perkins just as much as Boston seems to have been hurt by his subtraction.

    "I think Kevin and Russell are great teammates," coach Scott Brooks said after the Game 1 win. "Obviously, they've developed into All-Stars. & But we're a good team. We're not a Kevin and Russell team. We're a Thunder team. Guys all chip in."

    Oklahoma City has the energy and intensity of an NCAA mid-major winning deep into the tournament -- and a Hall of Fame-caliber player with the demeanor (and game) of George Gervin. The Thunder are the only team in the NBA playoffs out to prove that last year was not a fluke.

    They finished 8th last year. How is that a fluke season? They improved their record by five games and seeding by four. I think everyone appreciates they are a formidable team very much on the rise. None of this makes any sense. They are not some plucky underdog, they are not considered a fluke by anyone, you are living in an alternate reality Scoop Jackson.

    Every year entering the playoffs, there is one team nobody wants to face. It's that team that has nothing to lose and feels as if it's balling on the house's money. Losses don't faze this team; wins don't surprise it. In 2008, it was the Golden State Warriors, who eliminated the No.1 seed Dallas Mavericks. Two years ago, it was the Chicago Bulls, who pushed the then-defending champion Celtics to the seven-game brink.

    Last year it was & it was them.

    I'm not sure if that last line is sic or what. It's impossible to tell with Scoop whether it is an editing error or it is intentional for some bizarre reason. Please, feel free to tell me what you think this last line might mean. This guy is paid hundreds of thousands to write for ESPN, remarkable.

    Anyway, about those examples. The Warriors missed the playoffs the following year. The Bulls finished with an identical record and seed and were again bundled out in the first round. I can only imagine Scoop is drawing a parallel between these teams and OKC, which would suggest he thinks they are basically no chance to make any real noise whatsoever.

    OKC scared L.A. last season, although the Lakers will never admit it. In some ways, their opening-round series (it went six games) seemed more compelling than the seven-game series that was the NBA Finals. The Thunder learned from that, learned they belonged.

    It was a fucking great Finals last year. Look, the Thunder stole a couple of games, but never led in the series, never won on the Lakers floor, and really, a real scare by a lower seed should force the higher seed to close out on their home floor. It was a solid performance, everyone got a bit carried away I think. And if everyone got carried away, Scoop Jackson is at Alpha Centauri now.

    They learned then that they had to make the outcome of this year's playoffs different. They learned what "nothing to lose" feels like. They became that team to fear.

    Yes, the Thunder won Game 1 Sunday on a fluke. A missed offensive goaltending call (the league admitted it on Monday) that gave them a one-point lead with less than a minute left. But this was "Upset Sunday," and the Thunder found a way to survive. Down 13 early, in only this team's seventh playoff game, they didn't fold.

    They were at home. Against a team that traded its best player halfway through the season. And they got a ridiculous, game changing call even you admit was fucked. They didn't fold? It's game 1 of a possible 49 game season, of course they didn't fold!

    Get used to that. They won't fold and they won't go out or down easily. They've learned how not to give games away. If they are to lose, someone will have to beat them.

    So no team will be able to take advantage of that little loophole anymore that you can beat a team with less points if you eat more cherry pies at halftime.

    Get ready folks, the bullshitting and saying nothing are kicking it up to 9th gear.

    They are an NCAA-replica team in a pro basketball tournament. They'll play every game with the same "survive and advance" mentality that UConn, Butler and VCU did a few weeks ago. And if things fall into place, the Thunder could find themselves with the same Kemba Walker-inspired results.

    Or very, very close to it.

    So can a "college" team actually win an NBA championship?

    Probably not. The lack of NBA players alone would be a severe impediment. A talented NBA team though with two elite talents might.

    Without making too much out of one win, the answer is: Most definitely. And one of the differences between the Thunder team in these playoffs and the one that showed up here this time last year is that it knows it now.

    Now, can they show it and prove it to the 15 other teams left standing? With every game, can they generate more fear?

    Brooks said during the game Sunday that the key is making stops and making 3s. He realizes for this team, it's really just that simple. He knows just how good the Thunder really are, not just how good they can be.

    The anti-Heat, that's what they were called in a recent GQ story. Who are we to disagree?

    The lightning has already struck. And once that happens, we all know what follows.

    Without making too much of one win, of course.

    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.