As I begin this article, allow me to admit two things:
1. I'm an avid Lakers fan.
2. I'm a very emotional fan.
So tonight, when the Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers deal was announced, I was ecstatic.
I realized that the Lakers were giving up a lot for him, probably more than they should have, but it was a sign that the Lakers weren't content with what they had and realized a change was necessary.
It also left open the very, very small possibility of Dwight Howard coming to the Lakers.
However, that part of the story is for another article, because about 90 minutes after the trade was "all but finalized," David Stern did the unthinkable and unprecedented: He vetoed the trade.
Swayed by the majority of owners' disapproval of the trade, he balked and called the deal off. His reasoning, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo, was that "(Stern) wasn't going to let Chris Paul dictate where he wanted to go. In the end, David didn’t like that the players were dictating where they wanted to go."
If the simple fact that Stern vetoed the trade was shocking enough, the reasoning was absolutely baffling. Some sources said it was a "basketball decision" and others reported as Wojnarowski did.
In the end, neither was acceptable.
I understand the premise of not wanting to trade Chris Paul, the superstar of the team owned by the NBA, as it creates conflict with the owners.
However, it's not like this trade came out of nowhere and the owners weren't aware of it. If they didn't want to trade him, they should have made it known publicly two weeks ago when the lockout was over.
Instead, the owners, who were Soooo united during the lockout, seemed entirely discombobulated and out of sync. You would think in all the time the owners spent together during the lockout, they would have discussed the situation with the Hornets.
The whole system is broken.
What the CBA was supposed to fix—superstars holding small-market teams hostage—actually did nothing to solve the issue.
And this all falls on David Stern. As the head of the owners who complained so much about this, he should have fixed the system. Instead, they ignored it and now are making up rules as they go.
I would rather have missed an entire NBA season and had this whole situation fixed than have what occurred Thursday night happen to any team, especially my favorite team.
To me, this was the last straw in David Stern's unimpressive tenure as commissioner. Some of his notable achievements as head of the NBA...
- Two lockouts in 13 years, more than any current commissioner
- Vast over-expansion
- Expansion teams relocating
- 22 teams losing money, which he himself admitted
This man simply walked into a great situation when he came into the NBA in 1984.
At the time, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Dominique Wilkins and many other greats were in their primes. And entering the league that year were Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton.
None of that was controlled by Stern. Instead, he reaped the benefits of it, was looked at as the savior of basketball and has held on too long.
To his credit, he did have some wise business decisions early on, but not in recent history. Recently he's seen the formation of super teams, the demise of small market teams and an ugly lockout that, in the end, solved very little of the problems that they had coming into the lockout.
Another lockout in six years, when either side can opt out, is inevitable.
The system isn't fixed, and that's clearly evident. On the very day the CBA was ratified, we saw the same thing all over with a star on small-market team asking for a trade and beginning the formation of a super team.
Is it the Lakers' fault? No. And Chris Paul didn't choose the Lakers.
The whole "dictating his team" line that Stern is feeding people is just entirely false. Dell Demps, the Hornets GM, picked the Lakers and Rockets, not CP3. And honestly, the Hornets were about to make off very well with the addition of three starters and draft picks. The Rockets and Lakers were getting the worst end of this trade.
Which leaves the question, if not this trade, what trade?
The league is saying no trade to New Orleans since it hurts the franchise's value. You know what's going to hurt the franchise's value more? When Paul walks away this summer and the Hornets get NOTHING in return.
David Stern is in over his head at this point. The problem is, he's pleasing the right people in the owners so that he's going to be around a while.
However, the whole time, the system is getting worse, people will continue getting awful contracts, super teams will continue forming and the separation between the top-tier and bottom-tier teams will grow.
But the owners are unified under Stern, so they have it under control, right?