Words by Phlip
If you were a New Orleans Hornets fan, go ahead and start practicing yelling “Who Dat” as your Saints are 10-3 and, with Minnesota, Carolina and Atlanta left on their schedule, will finish this season 10-6 and play a home game or two in the playoffs. This matters in an NBA discussion because we can go ahead and mark the Hornets for dead as a competitor and soon enough as a franchise.
After the league blocked the CP3-to-Lakers deal “for basketball reasons” that were not understood by anyone who understands basketball, NOLa General Manager Dell Demps had a deal in order for the OTHER LA team to send Chris Paul to LA in exchange for Al-Farooq Aminu, Chris Kaman, Eric Bledsoe and a draft pick. Since the “Basketball Reasons” excuse had already been played and would make less sense when discussing the “Cripples” (as we like to call them), the league offices (Read: David Stern himself) stepped in and ruined the deal by making an unrealistic request in that the Clippers also include Eric Gordon in the deal. “Too steep, y’all keep him” was the Clippers response, and they promptly saved the rest of the league from Miami securing a competent Point Guard by snatching Chauncey Billups off of waivers before the Heat could.
Dueling conspiracies abound here…
I have already opined that the league is trying to ruin the Hornets so as to sell to someone in another market or just close up shop. I cannot, however, say that this is coming from the group who was actually tasked to run the show in the GM and Directors of Operations, as they have TRIED to make moves to make the team better, younger or to bring on draft picks and/or expiring contracts that could be used to build or buy up into competitiveness. I would not be surprised to see the Hornets try – and arrive to terms on – one more deal to trade Chris Paul and it get blocked by the league and then Dell Demps resign as General Manager in frustration.
And then back to my tried-and-true “blame LeBron” answer. No, stick with me here. A large part of the fact that we aren’t a month and a half into basketball season instead of 2 weeks UNTIL basketball season stems from owners pistivity over the servants having rights as it related to the running of the plantation. No more evident of the “exercising my rights” thing than when the Miami Heat let one of their players collide with a couple of his All-Star friends to come and join him and try to become the Mon-Stars and win some championships. Hostilities among owners of teams on which these players would have never played anyway commenced, coming to a head with the lockout and bullying into a bad-for-everyone collective bargaining agreement designed to prevent players from being able to do that by means of making it so teams who pay these players what they’re worth profit less from their desired outcomes by way of punitive luxury taxes. The pet reason applied for this was “competition” and “parity,” but in a league where 9 franchises out of 30 have won ALL of the NBA championships of the past 31 years with two teams sharing more than half of that, there is no such thing as parity in the NBA. Therefore, it was not parity, nor was it profitability. The issue was that an employee – in this case we won’t name any names, so we will just call the guy “LeBron James” – was well within his rights to take an action that happened to embarrass a whole franchise and expose its owner as immature and petty. Sure “LeBron’s” actions in themselves were quite pedantic as well, and it would take him a full year to realize it and more than that to actually cop to it, but it was PRECISELY this moment that led to the hostilities from the league offices toward superstar players behaving within their rights.
And you know what? IT WON’T WORK!!!
I would bet money that one of six out of those 9 teams – Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks – will be this year’s NBA champions (remove Philly, Houston and Detroit from the conversation now). For all the wrangling, bullying and pettiness this whole lockout fiasco will have been for nothing more than to appease small market owners, specifically Dan Gilbert and Michael Jordan, with the false hope that their franchises might too one day compete for championships. No amount of skewing advantages to help small market teams will make athletes want to live in Ohio or North Carolina (and I LIVE in NC!) in large enough numbers to ever make their franchises successful.
David Stern was once quoted saying “heck, my dream NBA Finals matchup would be The Lakers vs The Lakers,” suggestive that he knows that HIS bottom line is in having the most sellable product available, even if that means letting the small market teams not in San Antonio (as they seem to get along just fine and always have) be satisfied with what they have, not to lie to them and tell them “yes, Michael, you too one day will have something similar to the Bulls or Lakers here in Charlotte.” Sure, you work to appease the one person who MADE you, but to suggest that you believe these lies when you sell them to fans who know better and in the face of previous statements made makes you, David Stern, a liar and suggests that you lack respect for a lot of peoples’ intelligence.