NBA Free agency begins today, or as I like to call it Crazy People Spending Crazy Money!!! Yep your team could be the next to vastly overpay an underachieveing under-talented (shut up I know it's not a word) player. Especially centers. Good gravy, even a bad center gets crazy crazy CRAZY money in free agency. Centers and starting pitchers are the two most overpaid positions in sports. Remember this when you're having kids: either have them tall or make them left handed. They don't even have to be athletic or able to throw strikes. At worst your kids will get a free education. At best they'll make millions in free agency and buy you stuff. It's the circle of life.
ANYWAY, where was I? The big story this week (because it's July and there's absolutely nothing else to talk about- well unless you're in Vancouver, in which case you ask poll questions about the mental stability of your GM and why he hasn't made any good moves in free agency yet) was Elton Brand opting out of his contract with the LA Clippers so thathis buddy Baron Davis could opt out of HIS deal with the Warriors to make more money with the Clips so he and Brand could have about the same chance to win that they had before. So Brand opts out, Baron does the same, Baron signs a big contract with the Clips and Elton signs a big contract...with the Sixers. Whoopsy daisy! Yes let this be a reminder that NBA players and every athlete except Tom Brady and Marshall Faulk will ALWAYS take more money rather than win. Always. Unless they're end of the bench or role guys like Cassell or PJ Brown. Otherwise? They're taking the money.
Apparently Brand only got an extra $10-12 million by going to Philly. Don't get me wrong- that's a lot of money for most people, but for a guy who's already made a lot AND apparently has a successful production company in Hollywood, you would THINK he would honor his committment to his buddy Baron and take less (and by "less" I mean $60 million dollars instead of $70 million) to help the Clips. But no- no matter how rich you are, you apparently can never have enough. Although the Sports Guy did say on his latest podcast that these guys are afraid of going broke because it's happened to players like Kenny Anderson. Probably a good time to mention that if you spend your money like an idiot on cars, houses, "bling" and other, um, "stuff" then no matter how much you make you're still going to go broke. Would it make too much sense for the NBA and other leagues (well except the NHL. The only thing hockey players splurge on are new teeth and a 24 pack of Kokanee. Or if they're Russian, they pay off the mob. Heyo! Thanks I'll be here all week) to mandate that all of their players invest 10% of their earnings with a reputable financial advisor (the league could even approve the FA's so they'd weed out the sleezy ones) and that the player couldn't touch said earnings until they were 40 and/or they retired? Probably makes too much sense to happen.
This at least explains why poor Kenny popped up on Pros vs. Joes. Not that it's a shameful thing to do to go on that show. It seems like just about every former pro that's gone on there has really enjoyed kicking the crap out of the poor Joes. But Kenny subjected himself to a challenge where he had to compete against Joes in the one thing he could never do on a basketball court- shoot. All of the Joes beat him in simple shooting drills, and poor Kenny looked sheepish and embarrased while his Pros teammates dominated their events. But hey, I'm sure he got a nice check for it.
While Kenny's performance was one of the worst I've seen, 3 of the best (in no particular order) was Allen Houston doing that same drill, and he hit like 20 straight shots (all outside jumpers. Unreal. His knees must be completely shot if he can't find a place in today's NBA as a spot-up shooter. He's still got the stroke). Former Falcons back Jamal Anderson absolutely destroyed Joe after Joe in a drill where they had to tackle him. He not only was purposely running into them so he could run over them, he came BACK to run over them again. Easily the meanest and most competitive SOB they’ve had on there yet. Honorable mention in the football category goes to Ricky Williams. although that was unfair considering he could step into an NFL backfield and start right now. Sure the guy loves the BC Bud, but he's still in playing shape. He took it pretty easy on most of the Joes by trying to run around them, but "truck sticked" the one guy dumb enough to trash talk him. The result? Dumb Joe had to quit with a sprained neck. Definitely the best hit of the series. Third amazing/scary performance was MMA fighter Bob Sapp, who's 7'0, 300+ pounds and was a former NFL lineman before getting into the fighting thing. I'm not sure how he was allowed to participate because he quite literally could have killed any one of these guys. Obviously the Joe in the ring with hiim was scared to death, but the faces on the Pros watching was a mix of glee and awe. Just unreal how big and quick and scary Big Bob Sapp is.
And this isn't to pick on Kenny Anderson. I loved him when he was at Georgia Tech with Dennis Scott and Brian Oliver. I had a poster of him when got drafted by the New Jersey Nets when I was in junior high. He didn't make it in the pros because he didn't come along at the right time. He couldn't shoot and wasn't physical, and in the early 90's, when the NBA thought it was a good idea to have players beating the crap out of each other and have Knicks-Heat prime-time games with 70-65 scores, there was no place for a guy like Kenny. In today's game he'd be great. He was lightning fast, an excellent passer and had great handles. Look no further than the starting PG's from this year's Finals to see how he could have done- neither Tony Parker nor Rajan Rondo can shoot a lick, yet they're thriving. Just wasn't the right time for Kenny.
Back to Elton and Philly and the Clips and the rest of the short-sighted NBA. I'm not surprised anymore when a good player takes money over an opportunity to win because it happens just about every time. And before you try to bring up the Kevin Garnett example, let me stop you right there. Keep in mind, I love KG, and love how hard he plays and how maniacal he is about winning and being the best. But the only reason, THE ONLY REASON, he agreed to go to Boston was because Danny Ainge and the C’s agreed to give him a 2 year extension at $20+ million per season. KG, who has quite literally made more money from his playing contracts than any athlete in any sport in history, a total hovering somewhere near half a BILLION dollars (and this doesn’t even include his endorsement deals with Adidas and Gatorade), was only going to the Celtics if they gave him an extension for more ridiculous money. He would have passed up the opportunity to win a title this year if he didn’t get paid despite the fact he’s made more money than any human being could ever conceivably spend in 5 lifetimes, let alone one.
Of course, it takes two to tango as they say, so it’s not just the players who are short sighted. Look no further than the Washington Wizards. I know it has to be hard to be an NBA GM, and that I probably couldn't do it, but come on people, it can't be THAT hard, can it? For instance, in the last 3 years the Wiz have won 43, 41, and 42 games with the three-man core of Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, and Caron Butler. Three pretty damn good players who are all in their prime, and yet the Wiz have three quick playoff exits to show for it. With Areans and Jamison as free agents this summer and few teams with cap space, call me crazy, but I would have went the sign and trade route with Gil and Jamison to shake things up and try a different approach. What did the Wiz do? You guessed it- resigned both guys to huge deals, bringing back exactly the same team as the past three years. Of course they did. It was Einstein who said that the definition of insanity if continuing to do the same things but expecting different results. I'm going to go out on a limb and mark the Wiz down for right around 42 wins and a quick playoff exit for next year.
So all of this is to say you shouldn’t be surprised or outraged when Elton Brand says he wants to build a winner in LA, then stabs his team, and his buddy Baron in the back, to take a few more millions to play in Philly. Or when Clay Bennett tells the good people of Seattle who faithfully supported the Sonics and NBA basketball for 41 years that he really wants to keep the team there- and then moves them to Oklahoma as quickly as he can with the full blessing of the Commissioner.
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