David Stern Decision on Chris Paul to the LA Lakers Not for Basketball Reasons

Joye PruittSenior Analyst IDecember 9, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands next to Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2011 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. 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 Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

It is a little embarrassing that David Stern was persuaded into determining a raw future for the NBA’s own franchise. Putting a stop a deal that would have landed Chris Paul with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers only seems to have CP3 fuming and ready for legal action.

Sorry, Stern. Free agency is popping up next season and if you and the owners were going to fight against a players’ free will, you should have allowed the lockout to trail on.

The idea of competitive balance in the NBA is a dirty joke. Everyone wants to preach it, but no one understands how impossible it would be to actually achieve such a feat.

League officials and executives have been shouting this idea to the mountaintops for ages and soon after the LeBron James’ move to South Beach, the issue had been raised to even greater heights. With a team like James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami Heat jerseys, there was an uproar that the league’s power had shifted unfairly against smaller market teams.

How big of a market is the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise? What about the Memphis Grizzlies? Let’s not behave as if smaller market franchises have absolutely no way in hell of winning a single game in the regular season.

However, let us also not pretend as if the NBA has not been a two-headed monster for most of its recent years. From the time that I was born (1989) until present-day NBA, the Finals have seen the Los Angeles Lakers win five times, the San Antonio Spurs win four Finals and the Chicago Bulls win six rings. Fifteen of the NBA champions in my last 22 years of living have been designated to three teams.

Where is the parity in that and why all of a sudden does it matter so much?

You are right if you shook your head vigorously to relay that it does not matter much at all. The Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Lakers was not stopped because of a competitive imbalance. As a matter of fact, the basketball reasons stated as Stern cut the ties that bind between CP3 and Bryant, are not basketball reasons at all.


It is all about ego.

That is what the NBA lockout was fueled on and that is what drove the owners to congregate in front of Stern to exercise the power of free speech and avid persuasion. There were rules put in place in the newly agreed upon collective bargaining agreement to keep teams like the LA Lakers from swiping more big names in free agency.

As soon as the lockout ended, it seemed as if those rules were beginning to mean squat, as Paul had found a way out of New Orleans into a big market franchise anyway.

Of course, we cannot have this happen. It would be too much like equal ground to have players be able to decide their own future in the league. Owners would rather them remain idle until they are ready to remove the players themselves. Fair enough for the owners, right?

One thing they have not taken into account in their moment of immense passion about something that had nothing to do with their own franchises: Chris Paul is walking out of that door whether it is in a trade or in free agency.

At least in a trade with the Lakers, the Hornets would have not been dealt such a raw deal.

Now, there is a possibility he could step out as an unrestricted free agent after a shortened season and traipse onto the Lakers’ roster with the Hornets not receiving as much as a Get Well Soon greeting card.