Picture life on some idle Tuesday, mid-Fall in the year 201x. Whatever age you happen to be, picture you live a ho-hum routine, living in a podunk town. You don't live a very exciting life, but your job happens to be kind of entertaining and interesting. You aren't particularly good at your job, but pretend that it involves presenting to a small audience on a daily basis. While you have an interesting job, you aren't the best speaker in the world. You stutter at times, are not persuasive, and tell bad jokes. However, the catch is you are extremely good looking. For the most part. You have a large mole on your face, but it is only visible from a certain angle. Similar in concept to Barbara Streisand's Toyota Camry-sized nose. However, due to your looks, audiences remain more engaged with your dry material despite the minor abnormality.
Now let's take this a step further. It's Tuesday and you have no presentations that day. You stumble into work late, rather unmotivated, as you have certainly been lately. You fill up your coffee from the office coffee machine and prepare your agenda for the remainder of the week. Suddenly your phone rings and your boss wants to talk. Terrified, you stumble down to your boss' office, and slowly open the door.
"Sit down," your boss says. You take a seat on the black leather chair and struggle adjusting the arm rests. Your boss chomps on a frosted, rainbow sprinkle covered donut before presenting you with a 10- page document you barely understand.
"So, I want to talk to you about your performance. Basically we understand you aren't great at your job, however you have a component that is rare. You, son, are damn sexy. With that said, I am here to present you with a 400% increase in your salary."
Where am I going with this? Click "Read More" to continue
Confused, you take the contract reluctantly. "What's the catch?" you ask the seemingly retarded manager. Even you know the company is operating at an annual loss of $20 million per year.
"Ha! That's the beauty of it!" He lights a stogie. "Your new contract is legally binding. No matter your performance. No matter how well the company performs. No matter how your group performs. Your salary will remain the same for the next six-years. In fact, it will increase each year. Then, we will re-evaluate your future compensation. It may decrease in 6 years because you will be a bit uglier then, but we will probably give you a smaller extension because you may still have something left in the tank."
Aghast, you take the contract and sign it immediately.
This exact thing has happened to the following players, who were once considered "good looking" by an idiot GM: Mark Blount, Brian Cardinal, Darko Milicic, Marko Jaric, Jerome James, Marcin Gortat (I still cannot believe this one), Hedo Turkoglu, Erick Dampier, Chris Andersen, Samuel Dalembert, Sloth from Goonies (seeing if you are paying attention), Troy Hudson, Trenton Hassell, Mike James. Ok, catching on yet? Making the connection? Some of these guys still put up numbers, but none are game changers by any stretch of the imagination. What is more terrifying, the salaries these boobs make for role-player level production, or that about half of these clowns have played for or were signed by former Vice-President of Basketball Operations Kevin McHale? Not the point of this write-up, but still quite profound. And all of these players either had one good stretch, were "good looking" in that they were 7-feet and once blocked 3 shots in a summer league game, or in the case of Gortat, Turkoglu and Cardinal, were just too damn sexy.
Now let's bring this concept home. Time to get philosophical.
1. When comparing the current NBA salary structure and salary model to a normal business situation, how ludicrous does it seem?
Think if your company operated at a $15 million+ loss each year. The company made no budget cuts, and continued to bring in mediocre talent at a premium because they "once made a big sale," or "had a good stretch at a previous job." Not surprisingly, the losses and poor company performance continues. On an NBA level, it's outrageous the highway robbery that occurs, especially amongst centers. I can see it now: if not the Wolves, some idiot GM is going to sign Brendan Haywood to a 6-year deal worth $40 million plus. I don't care about the economic implications, I guarantee it will happen. I also guaranteed earlier this year that Shaq would hurt the Cavs this year and that Brandon Jennings would suck. So, it's a near certainty. Do you want to know what's even worse? I have read some comments/articles at a few fellow Wolves sites-that shall-not-be-named stating that signing Haywood would be a good decision!? Are you crazy? If you are reading this and are one of those people, please turn and face the corner. Time for a time-out.
2. How will the two sides possibly meet in CBA negotiation?
Wasn't it hilarious when early details of the owner's proposal of the CBA leaked? Things such as all contracts being non-guaranteed and incentive based, a lower cap and max salary, and most ridiculous: the ability to retroactively modify existing contracts to fit with the new rules. 2 things: 1. While that would be terrific for the league if all those things happened, good luck owners with those negotiations. Way to aim high. If you shoot for the moon and fail, at least you will land amongst the stars, or in this case, right into the middle of a 3-year lockout. And 2. to the Wolves fans, under any drastic rule modification, good luck getting Rubio to even consider coming over when some Euro team offers him millions and millions of Euros and an army of hand-made prostitutes after they buy him out after next season. I can't wait 'til draft night 2013. Stern approaches the podium. "We have a trade to announce." <camera cuts away to a cookie cutter Jersey Shore reject Knicks fan wearing a backwards hat and a Joel Przybilla and/or Travis Outlaw Knicks jersey and fist-pumps in anticipation as his team prepares to trade-in starting PG Sergio Rodriguez for the 29th pick in the draft> . "The Minnesota Timberwolves have traded the draft rights to Ricky Rubio to the Dallas Mavericks for the draft rights to Nick Calathes and Cash Considerations. Kahn will then be unavailable for comment, his finger slowly approaching his uvula.
3. How important is a championship really?
This and the next point may be heavily disagreed with, but hopefully with some rational thought you will get it. Ok, time for the "Would You Rather?" game. Would you rather:
a. Be a dreadful lottery team 7 out of 10 years, a contender for 2 and a championship team once, and then head back into mediocrity for the next few years after? Think Celtics, and what their future looks like with Glen "Giant Infant" Davis as your player of the future.
b. A deep-playoff contender for 10+ years, but never win a championship? Think Dallas.
I know 95% of people pick option A and will think what I am about to say is a travesty. Think about how long 7 years of losing is. Think how terrible it is to follow the Wolves and never see them contend for/make the playoffs, cling only to lottery odds and celebrate a 4-2 summer league record as our season high point. After all, it has been almost 7 years since we have experienced the playoffs. I still remember exactly where I was when watching all of the 2004 WCF games. It was a grand stretch that will never be forgotten. So I pick option B. Every time. Knowing each year I'd get to go ballistic rooting for my team in the playoffs. The city comes alive. The fair-weather fans come out. You can actually talk Wolves with your significant other and she won't just be pretending to care, or on those off years, wondering why you stay up late into the night masturbating to the latest lottery odds analysis posted on TwolvesBlog.com. So let's dumb it down further: What is a championship, really? A year-long agonizing look at who is the best team amongst a group of 30? Isn't that similar to winning an annual sales contest at work? When you REALLY think about it, why is it such a gigantic deal? Can you, in 5 seconds or less, name who won the championship in, say, 2002 without over-thinking it and/or looking it up? If so, fantastic. But I ask, can you name at least 5 of the Wolves' playoff series' over the years? Anyone else remember the series against the Sonics where Vin Baker and KG could not stop pushing and fighting, and seeing them hug after the Sonics took the series? How about the Kings series of 2004? The Rockets and getting torched by Kevin Willis in the 90's? Denver and the Lakers? That was easy.
4. If you were the mediocre employee outlined in the story above, how would you honestly perform for the next 6 years?
To some NBA players, a championship/winning surely is a number 1 priority. For others, the money talks. And can you really blame them for being motivated by compensation? Those of us who say they aren't motivated by compensation are simply lying to themselves.
So say tomorrow your boss actually called you in and quadrupled your pay with no added incentives and no repercussions. How would your performance be affected? Even more asinine, say the only repercussion for poor performance/behavior was that you had to work LESS (in the NBA, a decrease in playing time). I mean, just how f-ed up is this?
This is a question in human nature and motivation. In work and life, many of us (and the remainder, again, are lying), are motivated not just by compensation, but by goals. Many of those goals, not surprisingly, involve receiving an increase in said compensation. So, hypothetically, say you made the most amount of money you could possibly make in your profession for the next 6 years, guaranteed, with it most likely never being that high again. Would you find yourself busting ass every day, motivated by that sales contest in which you would receive an insignificant bonus and a trophy? Or would you goof off just a little bit, spend some days watching YouTube clips of 1980's NBA fights, come to work late on occasion, use your sick days for "mental health" days, and buy a gigantic house? Wasn't it your idiot manager who signed you to a 6-year contract at a 400% raise for your looks? If you had reached your ultimate goal as a human, what is there to work for besides quickly-forgotten acknowledgment on the office white board? Think about it. While each of us will respond and think about it differently, it's hard not to at least see it Through Mark Blount's Eyes.
The new CBA can't come soon enough.