Rashard Lewis might be the most overpaid player in the league.
The root cause of the NBA lockout has many faces.
The seeds of this lockout were planted a long time ago. No amount of goodwill from last season's incredible playoffs and NBA championship could have derailed the awful contracts, incompetent owners and greedy, money-stealing players who led us to the door of something unimaginable...
An entire NBA season being missed.
But that is exactly where we are. Here are the 10 people most responsible for the NBA Lockout.
Stephon Marbury was the highest paid water boy in the league.
Remember this crazy guy? You know that a player is a real jerk when a team pays him over $21 million dollars to just go away. That's basically what the Knicks told Marbury.
He was such a headcase that he once said Isaiah Thomas had to play him because "he had so much on him." Wow, blackmailing the coach?
The bad thing is, Marbury was probably telling the truth.
But Marbury's contract (four years, $76 million) is Exhibit A in the owners' case against the players. Marbury was stealing money from the Knicks, and he devolved into the highest-paid water boy in the NBA.
Jermaine O'Neal was an all star in a previous life.
Jermaine O'Neal was drafted straight out of high school, and he turned into an All-Star center. He was actually one of the key placers on a promising young Pacers team that was derailed by the Ron Artest melee.
He was signed to a monster contract (seven years, $126.6 million) but only had one relatively productive season playing under that deal. Injuries and age led to his decline, not a crappy attitude or poor work ethic.
So I'm not picking on O'Neal; he was a good player. But when you are paying a guy this much money to sit on the bench, it's never a good thing. This is Exhibit B in the owners' case against the players, because contracts that are this long seldom work out.
If Marbury was the head water boy, Curry was his assistant.
Eddy Curry is like the "anti-Jermaine O'Neal."
O'Neal became a good player, earned a big contract and just got old. He started getting hurt. It was a terrible investment by the Pacers to pay a player that much money on the back end of his career.
Curry was a promising young player. He signed a big contract (six years, $56 million) and was traded to the Knicks. Isaiah Thomas thought he was bringing a promising young player to New York, the kind of big man that could anchor the Knicks' front line for years to come.
Instead, the only thing Curry held down was his seat next to Stephon Marbury on the Knicks' bench.
His rebounds and scoring didn't increase, but boy his waistline sure did.
Eddy Curry is one of the first guys NBA fans think of when they think of the term "stealing money."
Donald Sterling is the worst owner in sports. I could try to go into a lot of details, but I can't do the "Sterling is a terrible owner" argument justice compared to this ESPN article.
Sterling is Exhibit A in the players' case against the owners. He is so cheap that one season he refused to replace injured players on the roster. When a player had to have emergency dental work, the Clippers almost had to forfeit an NBA game because they had only seven available players.
Have you ever even heard of anything like that?
Sterling doesn't care if his team wins or not. He just wants to turn a profit and be able to tell people that he owns an NBA team. The NBA would be better off if somebody bought Sterling out, but that probably isn't happening.
So every time you think the players are dead wrong, that they make enough money and that they don't have a leg to stand on, just remember Donald Sterling. He is such a terrible owner that he alone gives the players' argument some validity.
Rashard Lewis is overrated and overpaid.
Rashard Lewis might be the most overpaid player in the NBA. Don't blame him, though—blame the owner that signed him. That is what Lewis says about it anyway.
And you know what? Lewis is right.
What is he supposed to do? Turn down a six-year, $118 million dollar contract? Is he supposed to say, "No, just give me $100 million, and I'll be fine with that?"
If the owner is dumb enough to give that kind of money to a one-dimensional finesse player, then you can't blame the player for taking that money. Having said that, Lewis' contract has become one of the focal points of this lockout.
Once again, a long-term, guaranteed contract rarely ever works out for the team. There is no leverage for the team, and it allows players to just regress while still getting paid.
Do you remember when Giblert Arenas used to be good?
Do you remember when Gilbert Arenas used to be good? He was an All-Star, a high-scoring guard and an exciting player to watch.
Of course, he was also a ball hog, a "me first" kind of guy and not the type of player you can build a championship team around.
So, of course, Washington signed him to a six-year, $111 million dollar contract.
Arenas got hurt (knee), brought a gun to work and he still gets paid. It makes no sense to me that a guy is going to make over $20 million next season after bringing a gun in the locker room.
How is this even possible? How can Derek Fisher and the players even argue this one?
Joe Johnson struck it rich during the summer of "the Decision."
Joe Johnson's contract (six years, $119 million) is probably the most recent example of a guy that really got overpaid. It has to be front and center in the argument against these long-term, guaranteed contracts.
Don't believe me? Just ask Shaq, and he will tell you the same thing.
Joe Johnson is a good player, an All-Star guard and the kind of player that can help your team win a playoff series. But that kind of contract should be reserved for the players who can lead teams to championships.
Atlanta had a decent team for the first time in years. What were they supposed to do? Just let Johnson walk away, so that the Hawks would have to start over?
Feeling the pressure, they overpaid their star player to keep him in town. Now, they will be overpaying an aging player for years to come.
Isaiah, the NBA wouldn't be here without you.
Isaiah Thomas wreaked more havoc on the NBA while he was running the Knicks than maybe anybody involved in this mess. Just think about some of the bad contracts Thomas gave out or traded for...
James Jones, Eddy Curry, Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, etc., etc., etc...
According to this article, Thomas was responsible for the Knicks losing over $187 million dollars. This is just another example of poor decision making, but it still doesn't excuse the players from signing these huge contracts, then rolling over and playing dead.
A lot of NBA players didn't earn their paycheck, and New York was the epicenter of NBA players "stealing money."
Dan Gilbert financed a lot of really bad decisions.
Dan Gilbert isn't afraid to spend money if that's what it takes to win. That is a good thing.
However, Gilbert financed some really bad decisions while trying to build a championship team around LeBron James. Larry Hughes (five years, $70 million) is probably the guy that handcuffed the Cavs and stopped them from finding a "Robin" to put alongside James' "Batman."
Gilbert didn't stop there, adding guys like Antawn Jamison, Shaquille O'Neal and Mo Williams. When it was all said and done, James took a good look around and realized, "There is no way we are ever going to be able to add another good player," and he he bolted for Miami.
Of course, the way he did it was despicable.
But there is no denying that an overzealous owner just throwing money around helped to fuel "The Decision," and that is one of the big reasons we are where we are right now in this lockout.
Sorry Cleveland, I had to do it.
For all the bad contracts, the clueless GMs, the terrible owners and the greedy, lazy players out there, I think "The Decision" is at the core of this lockout.
Simply put, a guy like LeBron James sells tickets.
There are only a handful of true "Superstar" players in the NBA. I think these are the players who could potentially lead their team to an NBA Championship with just a little bit of help. My list would include LeBron, D Wade, Kobe, Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Durant and Dirk.
That's it. The rest of the players are just "All-Stars." The guys like Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin and Deron Williams? Good players, capable of getting you into the playoffs, maybe even winning a series, but that is about all you're going to get.
I challenge you to disagree with me about that, based on facts.
The truth is, these owners want to stop these guys from forming super teams like the Heat did last year, and like the Knicks are supposedly trying to build by adding a guy like Chris Paul. They want to be able to retain their own star players, and they want to have the roster flexibility to build around them.
With shorter contracts that are not fully guaranteed, the Cavs would have been able to shed guys like Larry Hughes. Maybe they could have signed or traded for a player like Deron Williams instead, giving LeBron another really good player to team up with. Maybe he wouldn't have left Cleveland. Maybe the Cavs would have won the NBA Championship some time in the last three seasons, when they were pretty darn close with LeBron and the rest of that awful roster.
So I'm not blaming LeBron for the lockout, but I do believe "The Decision" and the fallout from that has hardened these owners. They are going to change the system so that something like this doesn't happen again.