Before the recent NBA trade deadline passed relatively quietly, the New Orleans Pelicans’ superstar Anthony Davis had kept the whole league buzzing. Boy, it was chaotic; the only thing we were sure about was the fact that the power forward wanted to be out of New Orleans as soon as possible and his dream scenario would have been to join LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Other than that, there were weeks when maybe no one, including the protagonists, knew what the heck was going to happen next. Almost all teams were eager to make a deal, and the word on the street was that they didn’t care about the consequences; they put everything on the Red 7 on one roulette spin and shut their eyes. During the process, some dumb and unreliable trade demands and offers were leaked to the public, keeping fans in doubt. Eventually, the trade never happened, and some might say all remained the same. Well, that could not be further from the truth.
Anthony Davis is the latest player who showed us how powerful he is and how weak the league is under pressure. They say the true artist from the backstage is – who else? – LeBron James, who, according to some unconfirmed speculations, almost had Magic Johnson trade the whole team to get what he wanted. Again, whether it is true or not, this is just the next step for the players to take over the NBA once and for all.
The game top of game has been changed; the employees are more valuable than ever. The young, unstoppable basketball players are rising, and their ruthless agents are up to bat for the best deal possible for their clients and themselves. In the end, no matter what, someone will have to pay.
The funny thing is, while Anthony Davis was keeping the fans all around the world engaged, Netflix added Steven Soderbergh’s low-budget ‘High Flying Bird’ movie which focused on how smart, talented, and valuable players can dictate their fate.
HFB is predicting the future wherein players, the goods, become too important for the market, so the owners and the league must let them eat at the table. The recent NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which grants 49-50% of the revenues for the players, run through 2023–24 with a mutual opt-out after 2022–23. As the league is headed the same direction, becoming more popular than ever, money is pouring in like never before. In three years, the players might seek to get a larger slice of the pie. Business is business.
We are living in an era where at least two types of athletes exist: some people are chasing money, some are building a legacy. Yes, you can do both at the same time, but at some point you ought to choose a path. Kevin Durant made his decision back in 2016 when he let Oklahoma City and Russel Westbrook down, and now he is a two-time champion. The most iconic move, of course, was when LeBron James took his talent to the South Beach and joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. LeBron won two of his three rings in Miami, so ultimately, he chose wisely. On the other hand, after five championships and a couple of injuries, Kobe Bryant signed a two-year contract extension with the Lakers at an estimated value of $48.5 million and let his beloved team collapse under its own weight. Clearly, Kobe’s case was a bit different, but he chose money and rode into the sunset with pockets full of cash while the Lakers have since had one of the worst decades in their history.
We, mere mortals, cannot imagine what earning tens and hundreds of millions of dollars feels like. These guys had already been rich as heck when they were signed for less, so they still had plenty to feed their family. The real power is not to give up on money but to have the guts to make decisions like Durant and James did back then.
Now it is Anthony Davis’ turn. After hearing what he had to say a couple of months ago, we can be pretty convinced that he is up for making history.
“I would take legacy over money. I want to have a legacy. All my people that look up to me, the younger kids, I want them to know about AD’s legacy. Don’t get me wrong, money is amazing. But I think in that sense, money or legacy, I think my legacy will win that battle every time,” Davis told Yahoo Sports.
Although the league would never say it out loud, they do love Big Threes – when two or three superstars align to win championships – because super teams bring more money, more supporters, and better ratings. Fining teams for tampering is a joke; with this move, the league wants to prove that they have the control.
The thing is, you cannot do anything to avoid players building super teams on whichever terms they want. At the end of the day, guess what, the players dictate the rhythm. If Anthony Davis is keen on joining LeBron James, trust me, he will find a way to do so.
Cover photo by Netflix Media