NBA Players… when arrogance rules supreme (part 2)

12 07 2007

Time for a rant (second part of a 2 part diatribe, part 1 found here)…

Waaah waaah waahAs the NBA off-season unfolds, I have become more & more dismayed at the attitude that many players are displaying recently. In a recent opinion I posted on Kobe, I used the term ‘divattitude’ as a pun on ‘diva’ & ‘attitude’… well with the way this trade season is unfurling, it’s becoming quite a common state of mind. What happened to playing for the love of the game? Yeah, I know – how naive of me! Still… with these guys getting so much money, you’d think they would be happy to play, that they’d want to do something to earn their bucks.

No such luck.

We have perhaps the most storied franchise in NBA history being told by not one, not two, but THREE players – “I don’t wanna play there” (Kevin Garnett, Shawn Marion, Jermaine O’Neal). We have stories floating around of Paul Pierce being close to demanding a trade… When did the mighty Green die and become the Vancouver Grizzlies? Yes, I know that Danny Ainge has really ridden the franchise into the ground, but c’mon: players under contract stipulating where they’re going to play (as far as I know, only Kobe has a ‘no-trade’ clause)? I realise that they can threaten to walk (after their contract is over), but it really pisses me off to see them do that… to unfairly affect trade destinations.

We have the best player in the League – Kobe – performing almost weekly backflips on his “I-wanna-be-traded” scenario. For those who can’t keep up, in a definite softening-of-stance, Kobe told the press the other day that “We’ll just have to see where it goes.”(as far as still demanding a trade). Still… given we’re talking Mr Bryant, that could be very literally yesterday’s news by tomorrow.

Two years ago, Zach Randolph declared “I don’t think my role of playing 13 or 15 minutes a game is acceptable. I deserve to play 25-plus minutes, but if they want me to play 12 minutes, then they can just put me on the inactive list. I mean, those are rookie minutes.” Yup. Have fun with your New York Minute Zach… especially while you get to watch Portland develop into one of the League’s best teams over the next few years.

To get rid of him, Portland took on one of the great lemon contracts of our time – Stevie “Franchise” Francis (would that be a McDonald’s franchise Steve?). And it’s testament to how well-loved he is that he’s not even required to show up. They paid him $30 million to not show. Scary that New York are ecstatic to get Randolph, given it means Francis is gone. I don’t know who this situation is a bigger indictment of: Francis or Randolph.

We have Marcus Camby – just prior to the NBA Dress-code being introduced declaring it would never work – “I don’t see it happening unless every NBA player is given a stipend to buy clothes.” Err… hello Mr Sprewell.

The Yi Jianlian saga continues to unfurl, with SI.com reporting that Milwaukee’s Larry Harris stating:

“We’re not trading him,” Harris told SI.com. “We like him and we think this is a great opportunity for him. He’ll get a chance to play a lot of minutes right away for a good team. What more could [he] want?”

What a mess this is. Milwaukee pick Yi with the 6th pick in the draft, and his ‘people’ tell Yi… Bucks be damned.them that they don’t want to play in Milwaukee, they want to play in a town a) that’s a bigger market, & b)where there’s a larger asian population. Then they (Yi’s management team) enter into ‘trade discussions’ with other teams… regardless of the Milwaukee Bucks. Yi’s Chinese agent Zhao Gang said in the China Daily that he was already in contact with teams who were showing an interest in Yi. Err… huh? Isn’t that supposed to be the role of the management of the Bucks??? And Yi is refusing to talk about any of it…

The thing I just don’t get, is that very few players seem grateful… now we even have guys entering straight from draft, complete with what used to be a 5-year-veteran sense of entitlement. Yi’s refusal to play in Milwaukee disgusts me. Zach Randolph – the Blazers are much better for having traded him. Francis? I hope he falls the way of Latrell Sprewell. Even despite being a Laker fan, Kobe makes my head spin… or maybe more truthfully because I’m a Laker fan. His puerile, petulant posings drive me to the point of nausea. The ‘you-know-if-you-send-me-there-I’ll-walk’ postulations of Marion, KG & Jermaine really disappoint me. I thought all three were better than that.Yay Fish! It’s almost enough to make me like the Spurs, if they weren’t so like porridge… filling, but oh-so-bland.

Give me players who play with the unabashed joy of the game… I’m sick of on-court-divas.

Thank god for Derek Fisher.

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Salvation or Damnation… what’s the off-season hold for YOU?

27 06 2007

Going up… up… up…

 

Hope. It springs eternal (apparently)… And just prior to the NBA Draft, it’s something that oh-so-many basketball fans cling to like a piece of drift-wood in an ocean of mediocrity. It’s just prior to the NBA draft where the deals will get done… where the movers ‘n’ shakers of the upper echelons of NBA-dom will consign their fans to realising their hopes, or squash ’em like bugs.Going down… down… down…

At the same time, I both love and hate this time of year. I love it, because maybe, just maybe we get the deal done that will make us a force to be reckoned with this year. I hate it, because there’s every chance that no trades will happen… or worse… we trade for crap & we get worse! I speak about this for all fans… for just prior to the draft, and the next season beginning, we are all in the same frame of mind… just to different degrees. This season, pretty much only fans of San Antonio can sit back and be relaxed, for the rest of us… uncertainty retains a grip on us. Certainly all Eastern Conference teams’ fans have to be wondering “is the divide that great?” after San Antonio’s demolition of Cleveland… supposedly the best the East had to offer. Once-proud franchise Boston are getting rebutted by star-after-star-after-star… In the West, 67 win team Dallas have to be pondering their future. What’s it going to take to improve? For despite the win/loss ratio, Dallas were sorely out-played, out-coached & out-thought by the Golden State Warriors in the first round. Phoenix too… everything seems to be conspiring against them even getting to the Finals. And whilst they were one injudicious decision away from probably making the Finals, when the trade-talk’s flying (like it is now), they have to be wondering. Then the Lakers… man… not quite in the Boston situation, but still a case of ‘how-the-mighty-have-fallen’. Mis-managed and drama-ridden… Even as I type, the Lakers are trying to get Kevin Garnett (a player who matches Kobe for work ethic) – and yet the word we get from Rick Bucher (my, does he seem more and more like a chattel of Kobe’s at the moment?) is that even that may not satiate Kobe. What does he want? The Second Coming? At the end of the 2002 finals, a three-peat complete, who would’ve foreseen where they find themselves now? Perhaps the only two fan-groups out there not beside themselves with mixes of trepidation/longing/hope are those of Portland & Seattle. The twin pillars of salvation, Greg Oden & Kevin Durant beckon… most folks I know who support those two teams are salivating at the prospect of who-goes-where. Even so, once they’re there – the pressure will mount, expectations will be raised, and in a year, they’ll probably be back with the rest of us… oscillating between joyful anticipation, and agitation. The pendulum swings…
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