Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dan to the Rescue

David has slayed Goliath... for the time being. And I'm not referring to NBA Commissioner David Stern putting the kibosh on the trade that would've sent Chris Paul to the Lakers for some nice complimentary players–a deal that would've further solidified the NBA as a league of the Haves and the Have Nots. Although Stern threw the gavel down, it was Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert playing the role of David, championing the cause of the Little Guy.

When hearing of the deal, Gilbert sent an email (I wonder if it was in Comic Sans) to Commissioner Stern voicing his displeasure. In the email, Gilbert referred to the trade as a "travesty", sited the fact that the Lakers would be getting the better player AND saving a boat load of money, and concluded the email with this simply awesome statement:
"When will we just change the name of 25 of the 30 teams to the Washington Generals?"
Gilbert took a lot of flack from the media, calling him a whiner, a meddler, a man crying over spilt milk. Mike Greenberg, of ESPN's Mike & Mike in the Morning laid into Gilbert. Keep in mind, Greenberg and his cohort Mike Golic (Cleveland's own) talk about the NBA approximately once every eight months. Greenberg once compared Lebron's supporting cast on the Cavs to having himself and Golic on the team, has blamed the Cavs for not surrounding James with enough talent (even though James handcuffed/sabotaged the organization with his non-committal three year deal), and has told us (the Cleveland fan) that we and Gilbert need to get over it, after all, Lebron graced us with greatness. But enough spewing about Greenberg.

I see nothing wrong with Dan Gilbert's email. He has an investment that he is protecting. And for each deal that sends another superstar to a "big market", he (and the other smaller market owners) stand to lose money. Granted the Chris Paul trade was just that, a trade, where New Orleans was attempting to avoid a Decision-esque outcome of getting nothing in return for their superstar, however that's also what's wrong with the league - the makings of the trade came from Paul indicating he had no intentions of signing back in New Orleans and would "prefer" (demand) to play in a large market (because oh the horrors of making millions of dollars to play basketball in such trash cities as Cleveland, Milwaukee, New Orleans).

People will argue that free agency has given the athlete the right to choose where he plays after serving out his contract. I hear the argument "we can all choose what city we want to work in". But sports is different. These emphatic declarations and demands from the players of where they intend on playing (while with another team) destroys the fabric of athletic competition.

There are no easy resolutions, however, Dan Gilbert has right to be concerned about his business, which is a direct result of the competitive integrity (or lack of) of the league. Perhaps Gilbert SHOULD be the voice of the Little Guys because he is the poster boy victim.  I'm proud to say Dan Gilbert owns my team. I hope he continues to hold his sword high and chops some of these prima dona athletes down to size.

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