Is There Any Loyalty Left in Basketball, Sports?
Tim Duncan won his fifth overall championship and third championship in three decades earlier this month.
Duncan’s been loyal to the San Antonio Spurs for 17 years. He’s never left.
The Spurs’ five-time champion is a part of a basketball generation that has stuck with their teams. Michael Jordan won six titles with Chicago Bulls, and played 13 years in the Windy City (did play with the Washington Wizards after his first retirement). Before Jordan, Larry Bird suited up all 13 seasons in Boston. Magic Johnson played all 13 of his NBA seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Even Kobe Bryant has been loyal to the Lakers. He wasn’t drafted by them, but never played for Charlotte. He’s never left Los Angeles since he came in the league in 1996.
Now, players and coaches can opt out, get fired, or traded in their careers.
We’ll start with Jason Kidd. Just one year on the job in Brooklyn, Milwaukee traded for Kidd yesterday for two draft picks. Now, the Bucks are probably a better job because their team is younger and has a pair of budding superstars (Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker) to build around, but Kidd was everything to the Nets. Brooklyn, formerly New Jersey, retired Kidd’s number, and hired him to coach last year. They stuck with him after the team started 10-21 in the first two months of the NBA season. Kidd did help turn around Brooklyn, as the Nets made the playoffs before eventually losing to the Miami Heat in the second round. After the year, Kidd got aggressive and power crazy.
Is it really a surprise for the Nets, though? Kidd once wanted to be traded to the Lakers and called in sick while playing with the Dallas Mavericks. Or last year he wanted Lawrence Frank to be the highest-paid assistant coach in the NBA. The result: he basically told Frank to get lost 15 minutes into the season.
Maybe the Nets should have learned from the past before hiring Kidd, but they were loyal to their former point guard.
Players are acting just like Kidd in today’s game, too.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh win two rings in Miami and opt out of their contracts after the Spurs defeated them in five games. The superstars who once guaranteed at least seven titles may end up restructuring their deals, but what if they do not? Would they giving up on Miami?
Everybody is saying the Heat need a new, and younger supporting cast for James, Wade and Bosh. And that’s pretty much why James left Cleveland anyway because the Cavaliers didn’t supply him with superstars.
I mean let’s face it. James carried the load in the Finals, averaging 28.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists a game while the rest of his team appeared in space at times. Wade and Bosh disappeared when James exited with cramps early in the game, Mario Chalmers was no where, and Shane Battier and Chris Andersen were non-factors.
If the Heat’s ‘Big Three’ do restructure, fine. It shows some loyalty. Leaving, though? Seems like a cop-out. James, Wade and Bosh could build something really special in Miami. The East is probably going to belong to the Heat as long as James is there anyway.
But I do understand James. He wants a max deal (which he should because he’s the best player on the planet), Wade’s knees aren’t getting younger, and he needs more help. However, someone has to take a pay cut. Team’s can’t build with players taking big contracts. It’s not just impacting basketball. Football is taking hits, too.
So, unfortunately, money is impacting decisions and because of it, I think there’s little loyalty to teams anymore.
What do you think? Is their loyalty in sports anymore?
*For comments and story ideas, email Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samtastad.