NBA Free Agency: Making a Sacrifice?

Joseph EdmondsonCorrespondent IJune 10, 2010

PHOENIX - MAY 23:  Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the Phoenix Suns in action during Game Three of the Western Conference finals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers at US Airways Center on May 23, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Lakers 118-109.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Since the beginning of 2010, 161 American troops have died as a result of fighting in Afghanistan. In Iraq, there have been 33 American deaths.

These 194 troops who have died in just six months could not have been paid more than $14 million (based on the monthly salary for the military’s highest-paid, longest-serving generals or admirals). Even if they hadn't died, their salaries wouldn’t have surpassed $28 million for the entire year.

During this summer’s free-agency period, six players are on the national radar. Many are speculating about where they will end up and how much money they’ll make. Team executives have been trying to figure out how they’ll spend their millions on these players.

According to HoopsHype, free agents LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire, David Lee, and Carlos Boozer have made $80 million. However, some of them aren't satisfied and want even more money.

These players will talk about winning, teamwork, loyalty, dedication, and effort while seeking maximum contracts from their prospective suitors. However, their lives aren’t on the line.

They are blessed to be paid very well, both by their teams and through endorsements. They are gifted athletes who can play the game they love at the highest of levels.

If they don’t win the championship, it’s not a big deal. Only 12 players do each year.

If they don’t get their money, they’ll just change teams; someone's willing to pay them what they're worth.

It's incredible. An average of $13.3 million is already being spent on each of these players. Those soldiers who died, nearly 200 of them, haven’t even come close to eclipsing that number, and they’ve given the ultimate sacrifice.

In a perfect world, those we ask to die for us would be the superstars, but in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need people to die for us. In that perfect world, these players would feel humble doing their charity work and public events. They would feel joy at the amount of respect and awe they receive from their fans and communities. They wouldn’t need millions of dollars to play a game they love.

They’d play.

Maybe they’d be paid out of respect for their talents and to help provide for themselves. But the most gifted of them all wouldn’t expect to be paid so much for a game.

Then again, fans have allowed them to become who they are. We buy their gear, watch their games, and listen to their remarks. We fill up the seats, ask for their autographs, and debate their legacies.

Amar’e Stoudemire’s recent remarks reveal a lot about how important he thinks he is. But is he more important than that private who died in Afghanistan earlier this year? That private who could have been paid only $1,447.20 a month? That private who receives endorsements called Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay, Family Separations Allowance, or Imminent Danger/Hostile Fire Pay?

Sure, that private was provided with clothes, shelter, and was surely fed, but do professional athletes realize the levels of their selfishness, in a team sport, when compared to those on the front-lines?

Now, I know this is a fallacy. Many of our troops are aware of the risks and pay associated with military service. Basketball players aren’t expected, or required, to travel around the world to fight in conflicts that allegedly protect our freedoms.

It’s almost a non-argument until you think about those words these players will toss around during their lobbying: winning, teamwork, loyalty, dedication, and effort.

You may have played 82 games this season, and I’m sure you have dealt with the problems of living in the public eye. You also could have battled through injury, but you should realize how blessed and fortunate you are to be in that position.

Athletes demanding more money when they’re already making millions seems like a crying shame to me.

The NBA: where caring about making more money happens with the league’s best players?

Where selling out your team because you feel disrespected happens?

Where asking for so much money that your team can’t afford to place the appropriate talent around you to win a championship happens?

Those troops have one goal when they deploy and that’s to make it back home safely. They’re never guaranteed to make it back alive.

Basketball players already make more than enough money. Maybe it’s time they learn what sacrifice really is. Maybe they could look at winning, teamwork, loyalty, dedication, and effort without the assistance of their agents or accountants.

Only time will tell and fortunately, unlike those troops whom we have lost, these players still have time left.