by Scott Mandel
The NBA, which is no longer a sports league but IS a Twilight Zone episode, has lost its footing and sense of reality.
The game, itself, has become mostly unwatchable during the regular season save for the last eight minutes of games when players try to play some defense and rebound.
The inmates, people like Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James lord over how their teams operate, from how they are marketed to what style they choose to play on the court. NBA coaches are irrelevant. They are camp counselors.
Players with full, legal, notarized contracts to play ball decide on a whim when they don’t feel up to playing on any number of given nights.
The players have taken the notion of not showing up to play games to the Nth degree. The stars, who by some megalomaniacal thinking somehow believe the league cannot exist without them, have now doubled down on their power by deciding when they no longer want to be associated with a franchise, despite having ironclad contracts which require them to play, and, where they along with their agents have decided which markets will be their next destinations. The crazy part? Teams acquiesce and trade the player to a new team, with the previous team typically getting far less value in return.
At the moment, Kyrie Irving, in the middle of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets, and his agent are negotiating with the Los Angeles Lakers. Who would the Nets receive in return? Russell Westbrook. Russell Westbrook has not been what he used to be for several years now. He’s on his last legs. But who cares about the Brooklyn Nets, right? Or their fans.
Kevin Durant just told the Nets he will accept a trade to Phoenix or Miami. Sure, and I’ll take that oceanfront mansion on St. Barts. Except, Kevin Durant will get his way. I’ll have to work a little harder for that mansion. And I may have to settle for Anguilla.
All of this nonsense is leading to the destruction of franchises, a league top-heavy with prima donna superstars who command most of the salary base of their respective teams but who could care less about showing up and playing for a city and a loyal fan base, whose ticket-buying support pays his exorbitant salary.
And, it’s not just the players who are the nut jobs in this Rod Serling production. Owners are paying millions of dollars to unreliable players like the talented Zion Williamson, a 22-year old who has played in a third of his team’s games since he entered the league three years ago. For that level of consistency, his team just extended his contract to nearly $40 million per season for five more years of not showing up to play. This, after Zion’s “people” have been letting media people know how “interested” Zion is in leaving his New Orleans franchise to play for the Knicks at MSG. The good news for Zion? He can now decide, on a whim, to quit the franchise and demand a trade, without legal repercussions.
Nets fans are expected to support a team that charges 200 to 1000 dollars for good seats to watch a 2022-23 team that will have a roster of players who do not want to be there.
I’ve grown tired of this act. I hope most fan bases in NBA cities feel the same way. Don’t show up for the games, folks. The pendulum can swing the other way, in favor of fans, if you take a moment to NOT show up to watch these guys. With few exceptions, they haven’t earned your trust.