Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why David West is What's Wrong with the NBA

After watching the Celtics paltry performance against the Indiana Pacers last night, I decided that the most interesting thing about the game was the crowd's reaction to David West's appearance in the game.  West, remember, was slated to become one of the Celtics' saviors for the 2011-2012 season.  At the last minute he decided to join Danny Granger, Tyler Hansbrough in Indiana with the Indiana Pacers.  Well Celtics fans didn't take kindly to this slight, mercilessly booing West every time he touched the basketball. 

West consistently averaged 18-20 points per game for the Hornets as Chris Paul's sidekick since he was drafted out of Xavier in the First Round of the 2003 Draft.  And Ray Allen would have you believe that he actively recruited West to join the Celtics during the free agent frenzy back in December - to the point that media reports were that West was joining the Celtics.  David West would have you believe that he thought of nothing but joining the Pacers.  He wanted to play with Danny Granger.  Who knows what really happened - West isn't setting the world on fire right now averaging 10 points and 7 rebounds in 27 minutes - but the point really has nothing to do with David West.  The point is that Danny Granger could do what Ray Allen couldn't.  I'm not sure this is a good thing.

LeBron James wanted to play with Dwyane Wade and joined him in Miami.  Carmelo Anthony wanted to play in New York and pouted his way like a headbanded baby until it happened.  Chris Paul bitched and moaned about playing in one of the coolest cities in the World until he was traded to LA.  It was so bad that he was actually traded to Los Angeles twice.  Now Dwight Howard is rattling cages about leaving Disney World.  Do these guys realize that they are all becoming like Eli Manning?  And they think that is a good thing?  This is crazy.

I'm all about being able to change jobs, live wherever you want work with whomever you want.  That is our right in this country. 

But we are normal people.  These guys are athletic freaks who make enormous amounts of money.  They are recognized on the street and play in front of millions of people.  With these perks come great responsibility  The reason they are able to make so much money is that people like me pay a couple hundred dollars to see a crappy game like the Celtics-Pacers in the middle of January.  But competitive balance becomes a real issue when players decide that they all want to play in LA or New York or Miami.  This isn't the Premier League where a couple of teams are always at the top of the pecking order and everyone is happy cheering on their team.  If my team doesn't have a chance to win the whole thing, I'm not going to shell out that much money to watch them play.

That 's the real problem.  I don't really care about the NBA if the Championship always pits the Heat or the Bulls against the Lakers or the Clippers.  It's just not that interesting to me and I have better things to do with my time and money.  Maybe this is a problem for me because I don't live in Miami or Los Angeles or New York.  But I'm not the only person to think this.  Fans of NBA teams are just like me.  We have enough money to go to a few games a year.  We will spend our money on hockey, football or baseball instead if our NBA teams aren't any good.

Ultimately, the solution is difficult to discover.  The Larry Bird exception allowing the original team to offer its player more money in free agency is a good start.  But ultimately, someone like Kevin Durant can make more money playing on one of the coasts rather than playing in the Midwest.  The solution might lie with the players themselves.  But when you're dealing with 25 year old coddled athletes, good luck having them do something that isn't completely selfish. 

Back to West.  He scored 2 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 3 assists.  He had nothing to do with the Pacers win last night and he would have had made a difference for the Celtics if he were playing for the Green.  It's just that I would have liked to have seen what would happen if the teams were switched.  Call me crazy.

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