Tag: Duncan

NBA Fan Opt Out


No, I don’t want to encourage anyone to abandon the NBA, whenever it returns. We should welcome it with open arms. We should not be so kind to the owners who have deprived us of games. As a response to this ultra public manifestation of corporate greed, basketball fans should opt of using NBA owners’ businesses. Again, not their playthings, our beloved NBA teams, but the businesses that provide these guys enough money they can feel comfortable simply choosing not to have a season.


If you have to choose between Quicken Loans (Cav owner Dan Gilbert’s company) and Speedy Pay, choose Speedy Pay.  It may be surprising to discover how much of a game these negotiations are for some owners for whom the money involved is miniscule. See Paul Allen.


The owners have already gained immense concessions from the players’ union, not because the players have done anything wrong, but because the owners made bad business decisions. Those concessions have still not been enough for them. The players ARE the product yet they are being forced to accept far less of the revenue THEY produce. The owners’ stance is profoundly anti-worker, anti-union and greedy.


The best way to express our disapproval is to use the voice owners are sure to hear; our wallets. This is not a fight between Billionaires and Millionaires. It’s a fight working people, some of whom are millionaires, and their bosses, all of whom are worth more than anyone most of us will ever even meet. Roger Mason Jr. signs the back of his check while Jim Dolan’s name is pre-printed on the front of it.


Whose side are you on?




PS- To be sure, NBA players have jobs many of us dream about. But the guys we typically think about are the rare exceptions even in that world. For every Tim Duncan and Paul Pierce who have long careers at top dollar, there are dozens of guys who have short careers with league minimum salaries. It’s clearly those folks who need to preserve their incomes; Dwight Howard and Dywane Wade are gonna get theirs. 



Shaq’s influences on the NBA


Since Shaquille O'Neal announced his retirement, many people have already mentioned the Wilt Chamberlain-inspired quote from the Big Dipper's favorite coach, Alex Hannum, “Nobody loves Goliath.” Shaq was the first Goliath to be not only loved but eventually the most popular player in league. The notion that normal sized fans could never relate to physical titans was disabused by Shaq. His charisma, energy, humor and kindness is legendary. Even folks who didn’t like the NBA knew and liked something about Shaq.


Shaq also became the first ultra modern NBA player. It’s not surprising that he used social networking to break the news of his retirement. That’s who he is. In the 90s, Shaq was the guy who made multiple albums, had starring roles in multiple movies (including Kazaam which is not about basketball) and made commercials for everything under the sun.


Famously, Shaq also left the team that drafted him, the Orlando Magic, for the bright lights of LA. It’s Shaq who used free agency to re-set the balance of team vs. player control. His exhibition of his own power to choose his playing destiny was the start of the current trend of big time free agent movement being determined mostly by the players themselves. So yes, it’s Shaq we should thank or blame for leading indirectly to the Heat trio of stars hoping to win their own championship this season. More broadly, he helped change the landscape of the NBA by picking location over other considerations. Now, some cities are clearly more equal than others.


Shaq’s most important on court achievement is one that I have never seen noted before. Shaq was so physically dominant that he changed the positions of his most worthy adversaries. The tallest guys in basketball have avoided being labeled centers in response to Shaq. The level of Shaq avoidance is amazing.


Consider that the most prominent NBA centers when Shaq arrived in the league were Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing and David Robinson. These guys were all centers by both size and choice. Because of their size, it is perfectly natural to think of them as centers. They also chose that position when they had an option to be power forwards. All 3 were in Twin Tower situations but wanted to be centers.* Center is the position of greatest historical legacy in basketball.


Since Shaq’s arrival in the NBA, the generation of guys who should have been the next great centers chose not to be centers. Chris Webber, Tim Duncan, Rasheed Wallace, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, Jermaine O’Neal, Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge would have been centers at any other time but have simply decided not to be centers. Now it’s common that those 6’ 10” plus men aren’t thought of as centers at all now. Duncan is so adamant about being listed as a forward instead of a center that it’s often caused trouble for voters for All-Star and All-NBA teams. These guys went out of their way to avoid guarding Shaq and now many starting centers in the league have jobs simply because of their ability to provide a strong defensive presence. Now, that’s impact.





*-Olajuwon had Ralph Sampson, Ewing had Bill Cartwright and Robinson had Duncan. While Robinson was taller, Duncan’s strength, relative lack of speed and post game all meant he was a more natural center than Robinson. For instance, ESPN’s John Hollinger refuses to acknowledge Duncan as a forward.