Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James loves to hear himself talk. He seemingly has an opinion on everything sports and non-sports related in the United States today. That’s his right. And as the face of the NBA, people listen to what LeBron has to say.
But his comments following the shocking trade of Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Detroit Pistons are just plain ridiculous and dangerous.
James talks about a supposed double standard when it comes to teams trading players and players themselves deciding to leave their squads in free agency.
“When a player gets traded, it’s they was doing what’s best for the franchise. But when a player decides to leave, it’s, ‘He’s not loyal. He’s a snake. He’s not committed,’” James said, via the Akron Beacon Journal. “That’s the narrative of how it goes. So I’m definitely (aware). I know that firsthand.”
First off, that has not been the narrative surrounding the Griffin trade since it was reported on Monday. In fact, a lot of people are out here wondering aloud why Griffin didn’t demand a no-trade clause when he re-signed with Los Angeles during the summer.
Consider this for a second. Two-time MVP and two-time NBA champion Stephen Curry didn’t receive a no-trade clause when he re-signed with the Warriors prior to the season. If Curry isn’t going to get a no-trade included in his deal, why would a lesser player in Griffin get one?
James could have easily focused on the current collective bargaining agreement and how it seems to favor teams over the players. Those who have spent eight years in the NBA and at least four with one team are eligible for a no-trade clause. Griffin and Curry are/were in that group. Most aren’t.
Players sign contracts that are offered to them. There’s no proverbial gun to their heads in making this decision. That’s why it’s called free agency, LeBron.
He also focuses on a double standard among fans. Again, this isn’t necessarily wrong. Remember the grief James got when he left Cleveland for Miami many moons ago? That was ramped up in the summer of 2016 when Kevin Durant departed Oklahoma City for the Bay Area.
But they are fans, LeBron. You expect them to act as the representations of common sense? What is the word fan short for, Mr. James?
That’s not the biggest issue with James’ seemingly ignorant comments. He’s going about this in a reactionary and narrow-minded manner.
More so in the NBA than in MLB or the NFL, owners have to protect themselves financially. LeBron should know this. As of February of last year, Forbes valued the Clippers at a cool $2 billion. That came mere months before the team handed out $171 million in guaranteed money to Griffin. That’s nine percent of the team’s total value being given to one player.
For comparison’s sake, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford just recently received the largest guaranteed contract in NFL history at under $61 million. That’s almost one-third of what the Clippers guaranteed Griffin in his deal. It also comes from a Lions franchise that’s valued at an estimated $1.7 billion.
See the discrepancy here? NBA owners have continually gone out of pocket to sign important players to long-term deals and to keep contending teams together.
LeBron’s biggest rivals, the Golden State Warriors, are a prime example of this. Currently over the luxury tax, the Warriors are paying out $43 million in luxury tax bills. Should owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber keep this core together, that number will jump to $222.7 million in 2020-2021.
To put this into perspective, the Warriors would then boast a payroll that season of north of $400 million. Lacob and Guber are worth $1.2 billion with a franchise value of $2.5 billion.
Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are worth a combined $1.2 billion. They're going to hand out $400-plus million in contracts to Curry/Durant in one calendar year. Team value might be $2.5 billion. But this is insane stuff, specially when looking at the luxury tax hits.
— Vincent Frank (@VincentFrankNFL) January 30, 2018
Again, do the math here.
LeBron is right. The current collective bargaining agreement might not be fair to the players. But who in their right mind thinks it’s not also questionable for the owners around the league?
To focus on something this broad with such a narrow-minded approach is foolish. And as the face of NBA players, LeBron needs to be more careful. It’s that simple.