What a great way for the NBA to follow-up their lockout, huh? After owners and players required so much time on their deal that they had to shorten the season and cause games three nights in a row for some teams, NBA Commissioner David Stern vetoed a trade between the Hornets, Lakers and Rockets that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to the Rockets, and Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and a 1st round pick to the Hornets. Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert sent a letter to Stern, urging the trade to be vetoed because it would make a majority of the teams in the league the “Washington Generals,” basically teams that would get kicked around by a loaded team. If the Heat could sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh to team up with Dwayne Wade and the Knicks could sign Amare Stoudamire and trade for Carmelo Anthony, what harm did this really do?
It’s just another super-team, right? Well, if the league is looking for competitive balance and the overall equality of the teams, maybe Stern did the right thing, but he forgot that the Heat, Lakers and Knicks didn’t win the championship last year, it was Dallas. The NFL version of a super-team won’t be winning this year either, as the Eagles are 4-8 right now. Where did all of this start?
Those DAMNED Yankees, of course! Not the over-spending modern version. It’s those guys from 1921 to 1964, never finishing lower than 4th and finishing first 29 times and winning 20 championships. In 1976, when they were on their way to another World Series (which they would lose to the Cincinnati Reds), they were offered the chance to BUY Vida Blue from the Oakland A’s. This was vetoed by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn due to the best interest in baseball clause. I wonder if Tim Allen could play that role in a movie?
The next year, the Cincinnati Reds had a trade lined up for Blue, trading Minor Leaguer Dave Revering, who was out of baseball by 1982 at the age of 29, for Blue. It was vetoed again by Kuhn, this time due to the “fire sale” that A’s owner Charlie Finley (not Chuck Finley, who was famously beat up by his wife). If only that was around when the Padres were dealing Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff and the Marlins were selling off Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Luis Castillo…
Vida Blue is not in the Hall of Fame, but he could be if you base short spurts of success, winning 139 games from 1971-1978, (like Don Drysdale, who IS in the HoF) as the foundation. I’m reading a book right now by Bill James, “Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?” It is an incredible read and opens your eyes to the shortcomings of the sport and the voters who snub and develop ideas with their peers to make things work for them instead of the good of the game. Maybe it’s about time the NBA starts doing that, too.
While the deal didn’t have a superstar going to New Orleans, they had depth and talent heading in that direction. The fact that the Hornets are owned by the NBA played a key role in the advancement of another team. So, while others continue to whine and moan about things not being fair – Occupy Wall Street – why not do something with what you have or get what you need to be at the upper level. Dan Gilbert put Antawn Jamison and Larry Hughes around LeBron and didn’t win in his seven years in Cleveland. Why should he stay when you surround him with Moon Pies and White Castles when he can have steak and Snicker’s Ice Cream bars in Miami? Know what I’m sayin’? Commissioners can only blame themselves for the unbalance in a league when a dynasty controls it, but it is the owners choice to be competitive. For Chris Paul and Vida Blue, we’ll see if their day in greatness will ever happen.