In 1931, mob boss Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano got all of the heads of the major mob families together in an organized setting. There, they agreed to make decisions as a group in a way that would offer them the best chance at the highest profits. They called their nifty little group The Commission.
In a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune, Dwyane Wade said that he, LeBron James, Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh, and Amar'e Stoudemire will meet to discuss free agency opportunities.
Essentially, the biggest and most marketable stars in the NBA are going to get together and determine the course of the league for the next decade. The icing on the cake is, though, that nobody seems to have a problem with it.
The revelation by Wade of this meeting is inarguable proof of collusion of the worst kind. If the league’s owners tried to come together and power broker deals for players, lawsuits and strikes would follow shortly thereafter.
Seriously, picture this scenario: The owners of the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls arrange a sit down. At said meeting, they diagram a plan that would force the stars to take less money than the maximums they all shoot for. Would everyone take that as lightly as they seem to be taking Wade’s admission of this purposeful attempt to change the entire NBA landscape?
By giving those comments, Wade accidently slipped up and broke the Omerta code. He gave us a window into the minds of the new age basketball mafia.
Don’t be fooled by the “aww shucks” way that Wade described the get-together either. From the nonchalant way that he mentioned the meeting, you would think he and the rest of the boys were getting together at a Cheers-style bar to talk about women and cars.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
These men will get together and discuss the ins and outs of every little bit of their free agency. And of course, this has been the most highly anticipated NBA free agent class ever in the history of the league. Conversation topics will no doubt include who should play where, who should play with who, how much everyone should demand, etc.
Here are Wade’s exact words:
"You don't know what guys are thinking and where they're going. I think we'll all sit down, and before one of us makes a decision, all of us will have spoken to each other and [listened to the] thinking. A lot of decisions [will be based on] what other players are willing to do and what other guys want to do. So it's not just a 'me' situation here. We all have to look and see what each other is thinking."
What more could Wade do to confirm the collusion in progress? He is literally telling one and all that the most highly touted players in the league will come together, and based on each other’s actions decide what team they will play for next year.
Realistically, no one expected these stars to lock themselves in a closet for the summer. It’s no shock that James and Wade are not sitting in isolation chambers while making their decisions. Considering how easy it is to communicate these days, surely a few texts or emails would be exchanged between the players, regardless.
This is different though. This is an admitted, organized board-of-directors, business-style meeting
Commissioner David Stern has yet to address the issue. On the surface, there appears little that he can do. There are no concrete rules on free agent players coming together to determine who wants to go where. In fact, years of players lobbying stars to come to their teams has created a precedent of NBA stars doing the dirty work of team front offices. It’s just never been done to this magnitude with these kind of consequences for the league.
It will be interesting to see what ends up happening with these stars coming out of their little pow-wow.
Fun fact about regarding these free agent stars: While they’re out plotting their shortcuts to a championship run, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers is playing for his fifth NBA title. Between the five players mentioned, they only have one title and two NBA Finals appearances.
Maybe their collusion should go unpunished. Clearly, they haven’t accomplished much doing what they’ve been doing so far.