By Cameron Buford, Whatsgoodinsports.com
Years ago, teams would draft a player, and that player would often play on that team for the entirety of their career. Former St. Louis Cardinals Curt Flood turned the baseball world upside down when he refused to go along with a trade late in his career. The two-time world series champion changed the sports landscape forever with his lawsuit against Major League Baseball.
Though Flood lost his case, the courts ruled that he should have the right to free agency. Flood was subsequently blackballed from baseball and unfortunately would never reap the benefits from the ruling in his lawsuit against MLB. As baseball’s system collapsed as we knew it, other sports leagues had to follow suit. Once players’ contracts is up, they have the option to become free agents and sign with a team of their choice, they could even resign with the same team.
The world has evolved since this ruling in the seventies, and so have the players. Four-time NBA Champion Lebron James deserves credit for leading the players in this recent revolution. He, and his agent, began to take a more significant role in his career arch. By signing shorter contracts, James strongly encouraged teams to agree to his terms, thus allowing him to have more control over the construction of these teams.
The unintentional consequence of the player empowerment era is that fans have even less of a connection with the players of a particular team, with the constant players movement. Players watched as James joined Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami to create a super team. Kevin Durant, joining the Golden State Warriors in 2017, a year after they won a record 73 games, was another example of a player creating his destiny.
Former two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant teaming with seven-time all-star Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn is the latest example of players utilizing their power to construct a team in their vision. However, this player-constructed team would not reach its full potential to put it mildly. Whether they blame Durant’s injuries or Irving’s availability for not achieving their team goals, these Brooklyn Nets largely underachieved this past couple of seasons.
Many would blame the instant gratification era or the abundance of youth in the league. While this generation has helped to make society more efficient, rarely can you skip steps to be successful in the world of sports. Teams must endure ups and downs before they can call themselves battled, tested enough to compete for championships of any kind. This partially explains why general managers around the league are often reluctant to relinquish control of their organization to players, seeking to make personnel decisions.
The better organizations have consistent communication and an effective working relationship with their best players. I agree that the best players should have some say in the condiments in the refrigerator at work. Similarly, they should have some say in who they play. Yet, it’s a bad look when players try to hold teams hostage with random trade demands and an unwillingness to fulfill their contracts, regardless of the struggles their teams may have endured.
Let your voice be heard on this player empowerment era? Do you think this is ruining the NBA? Are you in favor of how James has initiated this player empowerment philosophy? Let us know your thoughts by reaching out to me on Twitter @_voiceofthefans, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also encourage you to forward suggestions on what angles or topics you would like to see discussed in the coming weeks.