For a brief moment, during the Olympics and while looking into the eyes of the USA basketball team; I caught a glimpse of something special. I saw those millionaire superstars putting money and contracts aside and playing hard for a cause. Playing for their country and representing our brand of basketball against the world. Then last night we learned about this Dwight Howard trade and my love for the NBA took a hit. I was quickly brought back to the reality of today’s game. These superstars, with exception of a few (Mostly Texas based) always get what they want. They want flashy lights, endorsement deals, and easy wins. Respect for their country is one thing, but respect for the city they once represented is another. They could care less. They don’t care that they’re leaving cities with young fans that live and breathe with their team. They could care less that a cities economy can depend on that team at times. These players don’t care about parity or the repercussions of their moves when going to big markets. Today’s NBA superstars are full of pride but only for themselves, nothing external. It’s a bad lesson taught to today’s youth, and it’s terrible for the game.
I once wrote a blog after hearing an ESPN personality predict the OKC Thunder and Miami Heat Finals series in the middle of last year’s NBA season. I couldn’t believe the nerve of this guy for predicting the series based on “Star Power” alone. The saddest part is that he was right. In that blog I tried to stick up for other teams in the league, believing that they had a chance, i.e. Mavericks, Pacers, and Bulls. I was wrong. As if I were consoling a friend that was going through some hard times by telling him to think positive and that it’s not a certainty that the bad thing you think will happen, will happen. That bad thing happened. Hope was lost.
But the great thing about sports is that THERE’S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR! Right?
Another NBA offseason has come, and another joke of an NBA transaction has transpired. Not only did the Lakers acquire Dwight Howard, but they also kept Pau Gasol and gained Chris Duhon and Earl Clark. They shed a player in Andrew Bynum that they weren’t fond of anyways as he was sent to the 76ers and also lost Josh McRoberts. What’s that? You’ve never heard of McRoberts? Neither have a majority of Laker fans. And in a weird twist, the Lamar Odom move last season ended up opening a door for Steve Nash. The Lakers got what they wanted……again.
Everyone keeps telling me that it’s no big deal because Howard hasn’t agreed to resign in LA in the offseason of 2013. Don’t believe that. It’s obvious that the guy loves attention and loves getting what he wants. Plus he’s been in LA all summer long; mucking it up with the locals. He’s been seen at Dodger games, getting ice cream at Sprinkles, and walking around Beverly Hills. Oh yea, it just seems soooo terrible in LA. Why on earth would he want to resign there?
There’s also the fact that the Lakers have NEVER been without a powerful center on the team. Mikan, Wilt, Kareem, Shaq, Bynum, now Howard. So I don’t see the Lakers letting Dwight Howard get away next summer.
Also, what in the WORLD was Orlando thinking? I know they were concerned about Bynum not resigning in Orlando so the straight up trade didn’t interest them. But after months of this Dwight drama, I assumed they were holding out for some key pieces. They ended up with Aaron Afflalo and Al Harrington from Denver. Decent players but not worth the time and effort put into to the Dwightmare. It seems that all other teams in the trade got better (Lakers, Nuggets, Sixers) and the team that was holding the biggest piece, the Magic, got worse.
Hands down, without a doubt, the absolute worst part about this whole trade is the fact that the media has started with the predictions. Just last night, SECONDS after learning of the Dwight trade, the first tweet surfaced. (Dallas media, Dwaine Price Ft. Worth Star Telegram)
“@DwainPrice: Its official. The #Lakers will beat the #Heat in six games in the 2013 NBA Finals.”
Then another, minutes later……..
“@DwainPrice: With Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace, Kobe is going to pass Michael Jordan and win 7 NBA titles.”
I thought for sure he was being sarcastic. But after a few twitter exchanges with him I learned that he was dead serious. That’s great!! Let’s just not even watch next year or put any other team on the floor. It’s Game. Set. Match for the NBA finals right?
I’m certain there were other tweets but the tweets above particularly bugged me due to the timing of it. Nobody knows how healthy Dwight will be. Nobody knows if Nash’s body will hold up. Nobody knows how much the pressure will get to the Lakers now that they’re a “shoe in.” It reminds of that scene in Black Sheep when Chris Farley is falling down that hill and finds a tiny twig to hold on to. “Thank you little Root, please stay strong.” My root is Howard and Nash’s back and the media pressure. But most likely, much like Farley, NBA fans will be falling to the bottom wondering, “What the hell was that all about!?”
There’s also this article from Arash Markazi of ESPN LA. It’s as unbiased as the sky is Yellow. In the article he’s basically calling out the Heat and is probably working on getting to Kinkos as soon as possible to get the “2013 NBA World Champion” banners made. These smug LA sports writers so confident that they’ll be in the Finals and so sure it will be against the Heat. “Uggghhhhh” I say with a fist in the air!!
Moves like this take away the fun of following the game. It tilts the scale so far to one direction that making a prediction on Lakers/Heat finals is an easy one to make. It will most likely come to fruition and that’s sports-depressing. I still feel that the new CBA might find a way to level out the playing field some but not as long as these teams are finding ways to land star players and somehow losing minimal assets. I also feel that regardless of the pessimism surrounding the Mavs that they have as shot to make a decent run in the playoffs. And if not, then my only hope at this point is to enjoy watching the Heat and Lakers lose as much as possible. Come playoff time, I’ll be rooting for any other team to defeat these monsters, even if it means the Spurs. Yes, it’s come to that.