The NBA offseason is tough time for teams and fans alike. With players suddenly free to explore their extracurricular activities from the moment they wake up in the morning until the moment they inevitably pass out on their way home from a sleazy strip club late at night, trouble lurks around every corner.
This year players find themselves with even more freedom, courtesy of an unfortunate NBA lockout that doesn’t look like it will end any time soon. With no league contracts to abide by and no team personnel to tell them what to do or how to do it, players essentially have free reign over their schedules.
Already the bad decisions are pouring in. Andrew Bynum, the Los Angeles Lakers’ constantly injured center, recently tweeted a photo of himself engaging in his new offseason pastime: boxing. A guy who is known to be more fragile than a glass vase participating in a combat sport – what could possibly go wrong?
And in the same spirit of awful decision-making, Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant is reportedly considering joining his agent and an assortment of his agent’s scrub clients in a barnstorming tour across China. As described by the Los Angeles Times, the arrangement would feature Bryant and Co. playing in a few exhibition games that would allow them to earn a little extra money, all the while continuing to do what they love: earning a little extra money.
Supposedly this deal would somehow put pressure on the owners by showing them that players can find places to play elsewhere, or at least that’s the faulty logic being used to justify this horrifyingly stupid idea. The truth is, obviously, that the only reason owners like Jerry Buss would even bother taking their eyes off their 20-something-year-old girlfriends for this would be out of concern of a possible injury, not out of concern that they may lose their stars to the miniscule money that other leagues can throw their way. The NBA always has been and for the foreseeable future, at least, will be the place where stars get paid the most. No matter what happens with the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), that’s not going to change any time soon.
Coupling the lack of financial incentive involved with this plan and the potential dangers to Bryant’s brittle little bones should be enough to raise at least a few red flags. If Rob Pelinka’s other clients like Andre Iguodala and -- No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft -- Derrick Williams want to re-enact their favorite bits from Jackass 2 in their spare time, more power to them. These guys could switch identities and nobody would bat an eye. But please, Pelinka, use your head and leave one of the greatest talents in the history of the sport at home while you’re playing for food overseas.
The idiocy behind this idea is almost astonishing, really. Take a player who has gone so far as to travel to Germany to seek out an unproven, radical rejuvenation for his shot knees, and trot him out as a glorified circus act for absolutely no good reason? Does anyone actually think Bryant, a player who gives it 100 percent in pointless All-Star games, has the internal switch inside of him to only play half-speed in these meaningless exhibition games?
The lockout needs to end and it needs to end quickly. If for no other reason than to save the players from their agents -- and more importantly themselves -- a swift and speedy resolution to the league’s current predicament would be in everyone’s best interest.