An Open Letter To David Stern: Forget About Z, Worry About Your League

Bob Evans@@TheRealBobEvansCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 14:  Dwayne Wade #3 of the Eastern Conference (R) is awarded the MVP trophy by NBA Commissioner David Stern after the NBA All-Star Game, part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at Cowboys Stadium on February 14, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. The Eastern Conference defeated the Western Conference 141-139 in regulation.  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 Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

In a time where NBA teams are trading players, slashing salary, and producing a poor product for the fans of their cities, NBA Commissioner David Stern is attempting to block Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ return to Cleveland after the LEAGUE MANDATED 30-day waiting period.

Honestly, I figured it would have happened a lot sooner than this; Stern is finally doing his part in the worldwide attempt to remove LeBron James from the city of Cleveland.

Over the weekend, sources reported that David Stern and the NBA will block and not allow big Z to return to Cleveland. 

It is well known that Ilgauskas has a strong desire to work a contract buyout with the Washington Wizards and return to the Cavaliers in attempt to be a part of the title run for 2010.

Why am I not surprised that the league is finally stepping in?  The media has been pressing LeBron and other superstars, such as Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors, to leave their “small market” cities in this summer’s big free agent class, and head to the bright lights of New York to help revive the drowning New York Knicks franchise. 

So it was only a matter of time until the league office attempted to do their part in bringing LeBron to their “home.”

It seems like Stern, as well as the rest of the NBA, are scared that Big Z returning to Cleveland after that 30-day waiting period would provide the Cavaliers with just another weapon in their attempt to “win a ring for the King.” 

Even though the goal of EVERY NBA team is supposed to be to put your team in the best position to win an NBA championship by following the league rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which the Cavaliers are doing.  It seems like the league does not want this particular transaction to happen.

Why would they want it to happen?  It is a well known fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers have to do their best to win the championship this year in order to keep LeBron in Cleveland post 2010. 

If the Cavaliers win a championship, that means bumbling franchises, such as the Knicks and Nets, would have a difficult time prying LeBron from a first-class organization that continues to surround him with the players he desires, just to come play under the “lights of New York.”

Contract buyouts are a part of the game.  Teams have been performing lopsided trades in order to slash payroll and cut their losses on a losing season since the day I was born.  However, it is just convenient that Stern is stepping up to attempt to stop one now. 

If Stern wants to stop things like these from happening, do not allow teams to buy players out of their contracts after a trade, require that a player must remain with a team for at least three months after ANY trade. 

This would remove the ability for players to be traded three or four times before the season starts, like Quentin Richardson did prior to beginning of this season.

Furthermore, Stern needs to stop focusing on the return of Ilgauskas to Cleveland and more on the state of his league.  The New York Knicks just pulled off a blockbuster trade that brought an aging T-Mac to their team because of his $23 million expiring contract. 

If the Knicks exercise all of their team options in the offseason, they will have a staggering four players under contract.  These four players are Eddy Curry, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Toney Douglas.  Their four contracts, which all expire after the 2010-2011 season anyways, equal $17,782,904 of the projected $52 million salary cap next season. 

Teams like the Knicks are slashing payroll and riding their rosters of players with contracts past 2010 to give themselves a chance at landing one of the premier free agents in the summer of 2010.  How is this fair to the fans of NBA basketball? 

Take a look at the New Jersey Nets as an example.  They will have around $23 million owed out to seven players going into next season.  Before the season they traded superstar Vince Carter to the Orlando Magic in order to rid themselves of his big contract so that they could have $30 million to spend in the summer of 2010. 

They did not trade Vince Carter to attempt to get better; the Nets gave up on the 2009-2010 season before opening tip.  Now their fans and organization get to enjoy the 5-51 record they have accumulated thus far.

I would like David Stern to publicly address how that is good for the business and fans of the NBA.  How is a team giving up on their city and fans for a CHANCE at luring one of the big names in free agency ethical, fair, or right in the eyes of the Commissioner of the NBA? 

I wonder if Stern even realizes that if these teams fail to bring a big name to their franchise this summer, that it will have a catastrophic affect on the state of these franchises, as well as the NBA.

Look at it from a fans’ perspective for a second.  Would you pay to watch a team that had less than 10 wins last season if they missed out on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh?  I know that I wouldn’t if I was a Nets fan.  I don’t care if Jay-Z performed live at half-time of every home Nets game, my money would NOT be going into a franchise that gave up for a chance.

Lastly, David Stern, and the league for that matter, should be praising the work of the Cavaliers’ organization, not attempting to punish them.  The front office, with the aid of owner Dan Gilbert, have turned around a franchise that was spiraling downward in attendance and merchandise sales, and looked destined for what happened to the Seattle Supersonics. 

Granted, the team got lucky and won the lottery that hand delivered local product LeBron James to become the savior or the franchise, but one player is not enough to win a championship.  If this was true, Michael Jordan would have won the NBA title every season he played.

The Cavaliers have followed the rules, surrounded LeBron James with championship caliber players, and have developed a blueprint for other franchises to build upon for the future.  The city of Cleveland has experienced a significant increase in revenue and media exposure since the day that LeBron has stepped foot onto the court of the Gund/Quicken Loans Arena. 

Instead of praising that, the league wants to punish the team for attempting to get better. It just doesn’t seem right does it? 

Punish those who desire to lose and fail to produce a good product for their fans, not those who strive to win and become better Commissioner Stern.


Cleveland Cavalier Fans


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.