In the fall of 2004, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Latrell Sprewell famously claimed, "I'm at risk. I have a lot of risk here. I've got a family to feed."

It was preseason, entering his second year with the Wolves after an exciting Conference Finals run that came up just short to the Lakers, and the 34-year old player he was ranting over an "insulting" $27-30 million, 3-year extension offer. 

Of course, he declined the offer and went on to have a poor season. "Why would I want to help them win a title? They're not doing anything for me." Later, when the offer dropped to $21 million over 3 years, he became a free agent. And when no NBA team offered anything better, he just up and retired. Poof. He was gone. Never to play another NBA game. Too proud to accept less money than he felt he deserved.

At the time, Sprewell was ridiculed for his decision by players and media alike. Crazy to completely retire over what he deemed an insulting contract offer.

Yet now the entire NBA - owners and players alike - have become what they once couldn't fathom. Crazy. Stupid. Absurd. Each side has come to the conclusion that if they can't make more than 2 BILLION DOLLARS a year, with guaranteed annual growth built in, then it's not even worth playing any more. 

Ian Thomsen of si.com wrote a truly insightful piece the other day, lambasting the owners and players alike for their role in this debacle. Please click that link and read the whole story. Makes you go "whoa".

A sample:

For the NBA owners and players to shut down their league during the worst economic times in more than 60 years has got to be the dumbest thing they could imagine doing. At a time when so many businesses are fighting for every last dollar, the NBA players and owners are giving back money to their season-ticket holders -- their die-hard fans -- and saying we don't want it. Put that money back in your pockets for now, and when we decide to start playing again, think about whether we are worthy of your investment.

Sprewell went to browner and darker pastures. He eventually sold his boat at auction to help pay debts, while his house was foreclosed upon (and this was BEFORE the housing bubble burst!). He made more than $96 million in his 13 year career, yet was bankrupt within 5 years of self-imposed, bravado-laced retirement.

Do you think at some point he wished he'd taken the original $27-30 million guaranteed-money extension that would have paid him through his 37th birthday?

So too will 450 NBA players look back on this 2011-2012 season with regret, wishing they'd been able to see through their bravado and take the deal that still made them the highest paid sports league in history, replete with guaranteed contracts, annual raises and a soft salary cap.

The owners will regret this move as well, having voluntarily given away their foothold on fans' discretionary spending in the middle of the worst recession in 60 years. Once that money is re-allocated amongst those households to greater needs, or even different but equally rewarding entertainment, will it ever come back to the NBA?

How many families, who once had earmarked their NBA season tickets (or NBA League pass subscription) as a "sunk cost", will find that they can no longer afford it when the NBA returns next year or the year after?

This is a bad, bad decision for the owners and players.

Just ask Latrell Sprewell how it worked out for him.


The NBA informed teams that all games through Dec. 15 have been canceled, according to an ESPN report, but really that’s more a function of the calendar than anything else since it will take...

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Majerle_tickets_medium

That's right, Suns fans. One day after the league's hard-line negotiating stance alienated their players to the point that lawsuits are now at hand and the season is in severe jeopardy, our favorite team is offering this terrific season ticket deal at suns.com! They're so excited to sell us tickets to games that are somewhere between doubtful and highly questionable to be played, that they sent the above sales pitch out via e-mail as well and are only asking for "limited money down"!

I would love to hear how this sales pitch works out. Seriously, I'd like to know if they can find even one sucker who is going to send the team their money given the labor debacle we're witnessing. What an incredible display of nerve.


When the most important names in the 2011-12 NBA season are Kessler, Boies and Clement you know something went terribly, horribly wrong. That’s the situation the league finds itself in now...

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"Its about saying yes to yourself and yes to your future, and have some opportunities for yourself."

-Jeremy Grey

The most common thing about conflict is that the parties involved enter into the situation feeling as though they are correct and the other party is incorrect. Pride is at stake. Precedence, making a stand, a point, establishing themselves as someone who will not be treated like dirt while letting the other party know that they are right. 

"You did say that."

"No I did not say that."

"You made me look like a fool in front of all of my friends!"

"Everyone was having a good time. You were laughing!"

"You lied to me."

"No I didn't."

"You'll be stone dead in a moment."

"I feel fine."

At the outset, both parties have the energy and wherewithall to commit to a mean spirited exchange that usually ends up with insults, raised voices, and specific tactics designed to gain victory. We all do it. Play nice guy to your girlfriend, act hurt that she would think you were trying to embarass her in front of friends. Deny you were hammered drunk in front of her family at Thanksgiving: "Nah baby I only had two glasses of wine, and your mom and I bonded."

In the end, one of two things happen. You kiss and make up, or one of you decides: "F this, I'm out."

And so we NBA enthusiasts, specifically Phoenix Suns fans find ourselves witnessing what I see as the ending of a bad marriage. Maybe the season isn't lost, and sure, there will be NBA basketball or some sort of organized professional top tier level of basketball in the future. And so my analogy is flawed when comparing to divorce-it isn't over, forever. 

But as a divorcee and a party of an ugly pissing match in which two sides despised one another, wanted to inflict pain on one another, I feel I have the experience to look at the NBA war with a bit of arrogance, and shake my head. 

Y'all are only wasting time. What you are fighting for is granular and unimportant.
You are soiling a sport rich in tradition, unbelievable moments, 
amazingly physically talented individuals,
heart, soul, love, history;
an institution you did not create.

And I'm also reminded of one of my favorite movies of all time, and one of my favorites scenes of all time (profanity warning):

Wedding Crashers - Beginning (via tco1099)

"You shut your mouth when you're talking to me."

Classic.

In the scene, a couple on the outs starts their fight KNOWING they will not give in. Yet in the end, they realize, or are persuaded, that what they are fighting for isn't worth it. A compromised is reached. Life goes on. Of course, it is a movie, and the woman did "go comatose" before agreeing to terms with the man. But inevitably, there is a conclusion that both sides are satisfied with.

I am mostly a pacifist. I have a pretty big lazy streak lining my soul as well. Thus, I believe a compromise is always easier than a continued battle. It's healthier on the heart, and it leaves more time for hobbies and creative enterprise like verbally abusing the 11 year old cat that somehow found its way into your home.

 

The ego can be a very healthy thing-a necessity. Yet it can also be the most destructive and pointless attribute of the human psyche.

A pretty wise man once told me:

"Some wars you are forced to fight. But avoidance is always preferred."

I always thought that was quality advice.

In other news, Mikael Pietrus is hanging out with a bunch of Chinese monks. 


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