I stopped watching professional basketball a few years ago, I even stopped checking basketball news online. One of the biggest factors in my decision to stop was the seemingly ever-expanding egos of it’s players. However, upon further reflection I have gradually begun to expose myself to the NBA once more.
You see, I came to the realization that many of these basketball players (this goes for other professional sports as well) have been told how great they are from an early age. The majority of them were some form of high school standout, complete with media coverage of their games. For instance, LeBron James was being hyped as the next big thing for the NBA while he was just a teenager. He was signed to a seven year Nike shoe deal worth $90 million dollars before he even played an NBA game. He was featured on the cover of the February, 2002 Sports Illustrated magazine…he was just 18 years old. Media coverage had labelled him “King James” before he was a senior in high school. Who wouldn’t feel a little puffed up by that kind of attention? So when these professional athletes refer to themselves as the best basketball players in the world, perhaps the thought didn’t originate in their mind and they’re just parroting what so many people say about them.
Another area in the NBA that bothered me, that I think what I mentioned above is related to, is contract negotiations. These guys make serious money, the league minimum during the 2017-2018 season was over $550,000…and that was with 0 years experience in the NBA. So when I heard certain players demanding contracts worth over $100 million, it left a bad taste in my mouth. Yet again, I now consider the fact so many of them were toted as superstars and potential NBA legends and how that attention bolsters the player’s opinions of themselves. Besides that, I now recognize that they could be injured, and their careers could be ended, at anytime in any game. With that in mind I can’t blame them for capitalizing on their opportunities. They also make a lot of money for their teams and owners through merchandise and ticket sales.
However, I am not overly keen on how some of the players go about getting their desired contracts. Skipping training camps, berating the owners or general managers in the media, or refusing to play your hardest are all negative ways of trying to get what you want and are devoid of integrity. Just like in every other aspect of life though, there are those players that balance out the negativity. I currently have in mind Dirk Nowitzki, power forward for the Dallas Mavericks, who is going to play the 2018-2019 season for just $5,000,000 and has declared himself willing to come off the bench if that is what is best for the team. At first glance that number may not look very charitable, but Dirk is a 20 year veteran who has played his entire career for the Mavericks, leading them to a championship in 2011. He is the owner of numerous team records and one of the first big-men to really stretch the floor, helping to usher in the new style of NBA play. Also to be considered is that in 2018 the league minimum for a veteran of 10+ years was just under $2.4 million. So, Dirk Nowitzki, who will go down as the greatest player in Mavericks history, and one of the best stretch big-men in NBA history is going to play for just twice the minimum he can play for. His willingness to also give up a prominent role in the team’s offense and come off the bench instead only ads to his generosity. Can you imagine Michael Jordan or LeBron James agreeing to come off the bench?
In closing, I have decided to give the NBA another shot and the players another chance in light of how much the people around them talk them up, thus encouraging their arrogance. As well as the level of risk of personal injury they take and the amount of money they make for their teams. Also, my realization that not all of them are the same, and that some of them are willing to sacrifice for the good of the team. I am not going to be jumping back in headfirst, but I will slowly circle and gradually wade in to deeper waters.