The idea of free agency in sports is basically a good one. But once players start dictating where they’re going to play and who they want to play with, there needs to be some adjustments made. The NBA has witnessed a trend of selfishness lately as players are more or less picking and choosing where they want to play.
It’s becoming too much like professional soccer in Europe, and if it continues then half of the leagues’ teams might as well fold the tent.
It seems the NBA’s star players just want to play for certain big-market or contending teams these days, and these are: New York, New Jersey, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, the L.A. Lakers, San Antonio, and Phoenix. And if they get their way it’s going to mean trouble for the rest of the league’s clubs.
The trend has already started with players such as LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade deciding to join Miami, and Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire trying to form an all-star team in New York. Another all-star, Deron Williams, didn’t feel like playing in Utah anymore and orchestrated a move over to the New Jersey Nets.
Anthony and Williams didn’t break any of the league’s rules. They simply let their respective teams know they weren’t interested in playing for them much longer. In no uncertain terms they said they’d be leaving when their contracts expired so their clubs should trade them for somebody now or risk losing them for nothing when they walk away.
In addition, if Williams doesn’t like how things are going in New Jersey, he might just get the urge to join Anthony and Stoudemire in New York when his contract expires. Chris Paul might beat him there though as he may force New Orleans to deal him since he looks to be the next player who chooses where he wants to go. Dwight Howard is also on that list as he looks for a way out of Orlando.
The main problem with this scenario is that some teams are going to be stacked while others will struggle. If you’ve noticed how European soccer operates you’ll see that many countries are stuck with two or three team leagues, which mean there are only a few teams who have a legitimate shot at winning the title each year.
The NBA might have a chance to slow this trend down when it hashes out a new collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union. But the question is how do they solve the problem? Today’s players feel they’re entitled to play where they want as long as they go by the rules. They’re not always concerned about winning as long as they can play with their pals, in warm-weather cities, or big markets.
Players in the past often spent their whole careers with one team, such as Reggie Miller, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson. Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan represent two players in today’s era who have spent their careers with the same club.
The NBA has never really been all that competitive with over half of the league’s 64 titles being won by the Boston Celtics with 17 and the Los Angeles Lakers with 16. Free agency is here to stay though, but perhaps the league needs to make the qualifications for it a bit tougher to achieve or to introduce something similar to the franchise player system used in the NFL.