Sunday, February 20, 2011

Today's NBA Makes My Stomach Turn

It's time for the Melo-drama to end. Please!
As the years passed from my teens to my twenties to my thirties, and I matured (somewhat) from a kid to an adult, my taste buds matured along with me. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cheesecake, coffee, hummus, crab legs, shrimp, a variety of spices (things I couldn't stand or wouldn't even think to put in my mouth as a young boy growing up on the mean streets of South Euclid) – they all became palatable. Some (cheesecake and coffee for example) even became something I craved, or in the case of coffee, needed on regular basis.

That is not the case when it comes to athletes. As I've gotten older, my distaste has grown and is reaching the point of self-induced starvation. A hunger strike, if you will, because today's athlete is not only unpalatable, he's become down right rancid. Gone are the days of savoring every bit of your favorite athlete, every last crumb of your favorite Brownie. The Bernie Kosars, the Brian Brennans, the Minnifields, the Dixons - yesteryear's athlete was endearing, was loyal, was team and city-first. That, unfortunately, has given way to today's loathsome "Generation Me" athlete.

Which brings us to this weekend's NBA All-Star festivities... or as it should be renamed... The Carmelo Anthony Show.

Melo has already made a mockery of the Denver Nuggets season, sabotaging it really before it began. The ultra-talented superstar has clearly hand picked his next place of business, "surprisingly" the glitter of New York City. It's now in the hands of the Knickerbockers to make it happen. The laughable thing is that Melo is a free agent at season's end. If he wants the Knicks and they want him, it can be considered a done deal. Both sides simply have to wait. The only thing the Knicks have to worry about is that another team (i.e. the New Jersey Nets) don't sweep him up and steal away his love. So this weekend, Melo has met with the Nets ownership and the Knicks in more of a free agent-like sweepstakes than a mid-season trade deadline deal. This "all-about-me" debauchery is reminiscent of another certain Class of 2003 draft pick... all that's left is the televised Decision (a decision Melo hopes to make by the end of the weekend, which in essence would mean overshadowing tonight's all-star game).

I couldn't care less where Melo ends up. If I had my way, Denver would've already shipped him off to Toronto or Minnesota (I can't bring myself to say Cleveland) for a case of shoes and a couple Justin Bieber tickets, just so he had to play for a few months in an "undesirable" city on a team with no chance of playing in the playoffs. Like I've said in the past... I'm a vindictive S.O.B. And I just want it over because I'm sick to death of hearing about the Melo-drama.

Problem is, the NBA is turning into Major League Baseball, a league of a few superpowers – the 'Haves" and the "Have-Nots". It's happening under different circumstances from MLB, with today's ungrateful me-first athlete shaping the landscape of the league. I just can't decide if this turns me off more than the lack of a salary cap in baseball. I don't deny anyone – the doctor, graphic designer, writer, or athlete – the desire and freedom to work for whoever and live wherever they want, but when these athletes begin to dictate the ultimate structure of the league, taking their current teams down in the process, we have a major problem. It throws off the whole competitive balance of the sport, leaving me to wonder, then what's the point anymore?

Hopefully, this issue will be addressed in the upcoming NBA labor talks. I love(d) the NBA, but my taste buds cannot take any more of this. The food is spoiled. And cities like Cleveland are going to be left scavenging for scraps.