The NBA season is well under way and with Byron Scott's firing we have our first coaching change. As we lean back to enjoy the balance of the season, I offer the following comments.
Lebron James is politicking for the retirement of Michael Jordan's number, presumably with the foresight that the NBA will, one day, consider retiring whatever number he now chooses to wear. Michael Jordan was a great player, arguably the greatest in the history of the pro game but there are others who factor into the conversation, many of whom have given back to the game far more than Jordan, who, upon being inducted into the Hall of Fame, provided fans with one of the poorest acceptances of all times, an indication of the bitterness that the man maintains. One guy who has never gotten his due is Kareem Abdul Jabbar. He was a winner at all levels and yet was never given the opportunity to even coach in "the league" and retiring his number would also allow Larry Bird's number to be retired. Both elevated the game to the spectacle it is today, to say nothing about Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Bill Russell, Willis Reed etc. The point is that the NBA has a Hall of Fame. Let's not start retiring numbers because, before long, they'll retire numbers of players who are great but are not worthy of an honour so final in its determination.
Byron Scott has never been one of my favorite coaches, although I loved him as a player and, without doubt, New Orleans have been under achievers. This team, put together by the current general manager Jeff Bower just doesn't have enough talent to compete and has done so because of the greatness of Chris Paul. While I love Chris Paul, I was A-paul-ed that he had the audacity to suggest that he should have been consulted prior to the firing of Scott, not because he wished to influence the decision, but because he would have liked to have had advance notice of the event. When are players going to realize that their job is to play the game and not make administrative decisions for which they are clearly unskilled to perform. Getting paid millions of dollars does make them smater than when they were being paid thousand of dollars and I'm sick and tired of any player who thinks that they are larger than the team and should be consulted about every move that is being made. The NBA is famous for this, due to the star quality of the players and their egocentric approach to life. I have never seen a league which kowtows to its stars as much as the NBA, and I'd love to see the players play, the coaches coach and the GM's manage.
Everyone who follows the NBA has been focusing in on next years free agency with James, Wade and Bosh giving consideration to leaving their respective teams. Frankly, I'm tired of hearing all the talk and pleased that Lebron has finally said he won't answer any further questions in that regard until the summer of 2010. I'd prefer to see the system change where if a player leaves a team as a free agent and signs with another team, the signing team, in addition to not being able to pay the player as much as the "home" team, would be required to forfeit draft choices as well. Yes, this would not be in the player's best interests, but it would even the playing field a little more. It's not as if these players are poorly paid in the first instance. Instead of making $125M, they'll be stuck with $90M. Who are we protecting here? Don't the fans, who pay their hard earned cash for the privilege of watching these teams play deserve the right to see their team be able to compete year after year without the fear that a large market team in LA, NYC, Chi, will overpay and strip those smaller market teams of players. Isn't player recognition an aspect of sport which has decreased due to the unrestricted nature of free agency? My guess is that David Stern will address this issue in the next CBA.
Well folks, I've got lots more I'd like to talk about, but let's leave this for another day. The season will throw more surprises on us to discuss so stay tuned for action in the NBA.