State of Loyalty in the NBA

Jeff Skibiski —  July 28, 2010

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By most fans’ standards, LeBron James’ much-ballyhooed departure from the Cavaliers earlier this month not only tarnished his carefully crafted image, but also any notion of loyalty. In fact, if there is one overarching theme to this topsy-turvy NBA offseason, it is probably just that—loyalty. At what point though, are players released from the burden placed by fans and media and allowed to move on to a better opportunity? If a superstar like Chris Paul officially demands a trade from the mediocre Hornets—a team and city he has almost single-handedly revived over the past few years—is he automatically deemed disloyal? To that end, what happens when a less known role player switches teams? Are they spared the wrath of fans’ since they didn’t mean as much to their teams? Were the Lakers virtually obligated to give in to Derek Fisher’s contract demands this offseason out of loyalty to the wily veteran?

While L.A. hasn’t participated in this offseason’s flurry of superstar moves, the acquisition of Matt Barnes, on the heels of last season’s pick-up of Ron Artest—two players that drew the ire of Lakers fans prior to them donning the forum blue and gold—calls into light the nature by which we judge free agents and trades. A little over one year ago, STAPLES Center roared as a belligerent Artest was thrown out of Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals. This past season, Lamar Odom and Matt Barnes engaged in a good ol’ fashioned no-holds barred Twitter war after a contentious road game in Orlando. Flash forward one year later and crazy Ron Ron has cemented a [positive] place in Lakers lore and Barnes just wrapped up a two-week romance with Kobe that eventually led to him signing with the Lake Show.

Former foe Raja Bell nearly joined the team in similar fashion this offseason before signing with the Jazz. Laker circles across the nation even raised the possibility of signing hated Celtic Ray Allen with the mid-level exception—the same Ray Allen who almost single-handedly won Game 2 of this year’s NBA Finals and was an invaluable part of the 2008 championship team that bloodied up Kobe and Co.

In 2003-2004, the Lakers signed two of the franchise’s longtime rivals—Karl Malone and Gary Payton—effectively creating one of the first “super teams” of the decade. For years, Malone was public enemy number one in L.A. for his alleged dirty play, yet all it took was a few months for the Lakers faithful to embrace the Hall-of-Fame forward. One of Karl’s former Lakers teammates, Shaquille O’Neal, finds himself in a somewhat similar position this offseason—clearly aging, but still longing to become a part of a championship team. That state of mind has apparently led to the center’s rumored interest in playing for the Celtics—a potentially traitorous development that has angered many Lakers fans. If there aren’t any other viable title contenders who desire his services though, is Shaq a little less disloyal if he winds up in Boston?

Loyalty is undoubtedly an important quality in life and in a lot of ways, sports acts as a microcosm for the world we live in. However, the truth of the matter is that sports isn’t completely reflective of real life, as much as fans want to believe. NBA players and front offices play by different rules and can’t always be held to the same standards. While outsiders may claim the Lakers are hypocritical by signing or trading for players with whom their fans and current roster have expressed wide-spread discontent, the team’s brain trust consistently bases its basketball decisions on whether or not they will improve the team on-the-floor. In that sense, the Lakers straddle the line between allegiance and disloyalty as well as any team, with Bryant taking the lead.

At the end of the day, Kobe respects players like Artest and Barnes for their gritty play, going so far as to tell Barnes via text that if the forward was crazy enough to mess with him, he was crazy enough to play with him. Instead of professing his animosity toward the Lakers, Barnes excitedly told the world just a few weeks later that playing for L.A. was a lifelong dream. Such is the current state of loyalty in the NBA—both for individual players, fans and teams. At times, it is understandably maddening for fans, while others are more forgiving. Ultimately though, it is a subjective business for all parties involved.

Jeff Skibiski

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70 responses to State of Loyalty in the NBA

  1. that was a good read…rings and money totally change perceptions of loyalty!

  2. great article.

    i believe fans feel most betrayed when players that have given a city hope where it had none before, leave for another franchise. Obviously, LeBron and Chris Paul are perfect examples.

  3. Fans feel betrayed when their dog refuses to go out in the rain. That is why organizations don’t listen to fans when they are planning anything.

    …However, that was an interesting article about how Chicago should adopt Utah’s system.

  4. i never accepted karl malone…

    - true fan

  5. I view it this way: I’ve been a Lakers fan as far back as I can remember, and the players will come and go but I’ll still be a Lakers fan in the end.

    Honestly, was LeBron’s “Decision” that much worse than the three major trials Kobe put the Lakers’ fans through over the years?

    Eagle was a personal matter, but its impact certainly caused Lakers fans to suffer due to Kobe’s poor judgement (albeit it not as much as he and his family). Still, it shattered people’s faith in who he was and what he seemingly stood for, and damaged his relationship with the team in the process.

    But I’m not his friend or relative so I don’t hold that against him as much as I do two other instances. First was his “I’m going to opt out” season leading up to the summer of 2004. He then waited until the last moment to tell the front office if he would resign or go to the Clippers, with lots of media gambits via leaks to Jim Gray along the way. Any questions about loyalty should have evaporated then and there.

    The other instance was the summer of 2007, with Kobe’s trade demands and engineered media ploys through his pal Ric Bucher. I was so sickened by that act that I skipped watching that season’s opening night game, when Kobe was actually booed at Staples vs. the Rockets. Had they traded him at that time, I might have been partially relieved just to see that whole saga conclude. Thankfully he saw the light and things worked out that he was again happy to be a Laker.

    It’s a business, and I don’t blame Kobe personally for making the chess moves he could to better his situation. But don’t think for a minute that loyalty to the fans or organization came into play there. Had the grass been greener elsewhere, or had he had a real way out in ’07, he’d have bolted and we’d have been feeling like Cleveland does now.

    And spare me the “Kobe hater” talk here. My thoughts on him aren’t personal; I love what he’s done for the team on the floor, and he’s an amazing player. But the idea that the players care about the fans or loyalty as much as some would like them to is at best naive.

    My only disdain for LeBron isn’t that he “betrayed” Cleveland; it’s that he felt he wasn’t good enough to lead his own team to a ring, so he’s hopped on Wade’s jock instead. No truly great player would go that route.

  6. The NBA attempted to codify “loyalty” with the whole stay with your team and you can get higher maximum salaries plus an additional sixth year.

    The players have revolted by now subverting this “loyalty” codification, and not only forcing the putative home team to trade the player, but also to force the team to do a sign and trade. Go figure, there is no way to legislate loyalty, especially after this summer.

  7. Players like Payton and Malone toiled for years on their respective teams before they finally gave up and chased the ring. LaBrawn quit on a team that gave him everything he asked for.

    People have to remember that this is the “cheat code” era. Younger players (people) want the instant gratification. They don’t view it as us against the world. Instead they look at beating the system to win at all costs. The victory is a hollow completion of a task not the long arduous trail to complete a mission. The victory does not leave anything to savor because it was not hard fought. They no longer have the intestinal fortitude to battle against all odds and therefore do not have the same loyalties and allegencies that those who came before them do.

    Welcome to the New World Order. If you can’t beat them, join them. Askew the battle, assemble a juggernaut and shoot the wounded. Winning is no longer a competition it is a slaughter of the weakiest.

  8. Well-written, and good comments as well. I think as Laker fans, we all think team first, so we want “loyalty” from the players to the team. In a way, LA fans are fortunate, as the team has a reputation of looking after its own, so there generally IS some level of loyalty flowing both ways. Related to this, most players who leave (some notable exceptions!) don’t trash LA, and management also holds its tongue.

    Other teams have not been as fortunate. Key players have left with barely a “thanks for the multiple millions”, and management members have ripped former players (which we’ve seen with both LBJ & Bosh this off-season).

    I think as Laker fans, we’re incredibly lucky to have an owner who usually pays, a history that lures players, and a team (and coach) who get the job done on an amazingly consistent basis. Sixteen titles and counting, and I’ve been fortunate enough to witness 10 in my lifetime (well, I wasn’t old enough to remember the 1980 title, but I can claim the rest of the Showtime years!).

    Thanks for the piece Jeff. And again to the FB&G family who definitely make some of the most educated and well-thought-out blog comments going around.

  9. LeBron sold his brand partly on the concept of his loyalty. Doesn’t he have a loyalty tattoo? Whether he really believed it or used it to build a brand is immaterial.

  10. Thanks for the good read Jeff.

    Lebron is right in that this is a business and had he not been a great player the team would have cut the chord on him and not vice versa (Luke or Sasha anyone?).

    You have to respect the hard work that James has done to put him in this position. He has every right just like everyone of us that lives in America. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    James doesn’t have to please anyone but himself, but that doesn’t excuse his behavior. “Could have handled it better.” Is the understatement of the summer.

    The same could be said about Kobe. As Chris J talked about Kobe and his positioning for the best team back in the day. Had he left I would have hated Kobe, but still respected him as a basketball player because of all the tremendous work that he puts in.

    We all love sports so much, but the players in general don’t care about the fans. So it’s a give and take situation kinda like that crazy girl friend that we sometimes gravitate towards.

    You see her cheating on you and positioning herself with someone else, but sometimes she allows you a date and you’re back in love. You might have a great date but that could be it. Without a moments notice you could be left in the dust. (Cleveland anybody?)

    Just enjoy the ride while it lasts because athletes cannot promise you a ring.

    However you can offer a ring to a team, and that my friends’ is loyalty.

  11. @ Chris J

    Nice response, but I have a bit of a problem with the last point. Here’s the main differences I see with Kobe’s trade demand. Kobe signed a seven-year contract with the Lakers in 2004 under the stipulation that management was going to do everything it could to build a contender around him.

    While nobody knew for sure if Kobe could be the main guy on a title team, he had already been option 1A on four teams that reached the finals, three of which ended with championships.

    He missed the final 16 games of the 2005 season due to injury, the only season of his career his team missed the playoffs. Over the next two seasons, Kobe led the League in scoring, put up astronomical numbers and carried two Lakers squads to the playoffs. His starting five included Smush Parker (who at, 26, was out of the league), Kwame Brown (not much else needs to be said here), Luke Walton (career scoring average of 5.4 points) and Lamar Odom. Zero all-stars. Zero consistency. Zero proof that the Lakers were actually trying to build a contender.

    Remember how devastating it was when Laron Profit underwent season-ending surgery in 05? When Profit is that valuable to your team, the GM hasn’t been doing his job.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, everyone has assumed Lebron would win multiple titles since he was 15 years old. Going on a decade later, the self-proclaimed “Chosen One” has only sniffed the finals once. Unlike the Lakers, the Cavs did its best to assemble new rosters for Lebron every year. Look at the turnover from year to year, especially the last three seasons.

    Lebron James, while having given up seven years of his career to the Cavs, never signed a long-term deal. He signed three years with the specific purpose of being free when he turned…25. More power to him. But his decision pushed the Cavs to make quick fixes instead of focusing on long term development. Even still, the Cavs were the winningest team over the past two seasons.

    I actually felt Kobe had every reason to demand being traded. I could only stomach so much of Smush Parker and Kwame Brown. I respect the hard work Kobe put in and all that he had done to both earn his paycheck and carry on his part of the deal. It was the team’s lack of living up to their word that left me without a choice but to not hate the way KB carried on that summer of 07. I actually thought he was 100 percent right.

    That being said, Chris Paul has no right whatsoever to demand a trade. Not only is he in the first year of his new contract, he missed half the season to injury last year and he’s 25…

    My only disdain for Lebron is that he’s a narcissistic bastard who broke up with Cleveland in the most back-stabbing way possible, all the while glorifying himself and talking about winning. Winners don’t celebrate themselves with a giant party in Miami, then spend three days in Vegas celebrating their birth.

    Winners are working on their games. When Bron said he was “really, really, really, really, really busy this summer” so much so that he couldn’t play with the U.S. team, I guess he meant chilling at TAO.

  12. @5 (Chris J): “The Decision” was heinous on multiple levels… MULTIPLE levels. i would say more, but this topic has been hashed and rehashed a ridiculous number of times in the past 2 weeks. if your opinion is that it’s no different than Kobe’s trade demands, then you’re entitled to it. =P

    Chris Paul’s trade demands are much more in line with what Kobe did. And the media outcry has been nowhere near what it was for “The Decision” because it’s not nearly as reprehensible.

  13. 4.

    Same here. Malone was a means to an ends

  14. The biggest difference between Kobe in ’07 and LeBron in ’10 is that Kobe didn’t leave (and Kobe didn’t stage “The Decision”). We can talk all we want about what woulda, coulda, shoulda happened, but at the end of the day, Kobe is going to retire a Laker. There is no doubt that Kobe handled his frustrations with the team in an immature way, but his urgency, his desire to play with better players than Kwame Brown and Smush Parker had to be understood. I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence that the every year after Kobe’s petulant trade demands, the Lakers have been in the Finals. Something had to be done, and I’m glad that the front office responded the way that they did.

  15. 5- LeBron’s “Decision” is in another galaxy compared to Kobe’s trade demands of 2007 or his opting out in 2004. The Eagle, CO situation is really something else altogether. I don’t see how it even comes into a conversation about loyalty between a team and its fans. It was a terrible personal choice by Kobe. It was not like he could waive his hand and have the resulting aftermath disappear. The legal process had to reach its conclusion. But the original act itself had nothing to do with the Lakers organization or its fans. So I don’t see how it applies.

    Also, Kobe’s relationship with LA is nothing like LeBron’s relationship with Cleveland. LeBron James WAS Cleveland. Not just the team, but the city as well. He literally had the keys to the city. Kobe may be loved in LA, but he’s not loved the way LeBron was in Cleveland. In many people’s eyes Kobe is not even the number one Laker. He still has to get in line behind Magic and West.

  16. …city he has almost single-handedly revived …

    I’d give more credit to others, e.g. the Super Bowl champion Saints.

    Not that I don’t appreciate an NBA-centric universe…

  17. Although I’m not blind to Kobe’s faults and petulance, I see two different situations with him and Bron.

    Bron dangles his free agency status a full 2 years before his contract is over while his team bent over backwards to accommodate him and put a team around him that has the best record in the league two years in a row.

    Kobe in 04 was the scapegoat for many ills despite his work ethic and sacrifice. He had to put up with Shaq’s lack of work ethic and demands to be leader of the team despite not wanting to put in the effort.

    Kobe in 07 had a team consisting of Smush and Kwame, dragging them to the playoffs with barely above .500 records. This after he was promised a team would be build around him.

    I don’t agree with how he handled a lot of it but I could also understand his frustration and thoughts that he was being betrayed by many people within the organization.

  18. they destroyed the team in 2004 when piston beat them…..

  19. Funky Chicken July 28, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I think fans looking for “loyalty” from athletes are being unreasonable, particularly when you consider the fickle nature of all sports fans. There is virtually no fan loyalty toward individual players, and most fans will support guys on their favorite team only as long as they remain on that team (notable exceptions exist, of course).

    It is hard for me to criticize Lebron for “disloyalty” when there are so many better reasons to criticize him–like for his megalomania. I’m not sure what part of “free agent” Cleveland fans didn’t understand, but once his contract was up he was under zero responsibility (contractual or otherwise) to remain “loyal” to Cleveland. Frankly, Kobe (or, more recently, Chris Paul) asking to be traded while still under contract is a FAR greater display of disloyalty. However, Cavs fans’ anger over the “decision” circus and roller coaster that LBJ inflicted upon them is totally justified.

    Should Shaq sign with the Celtics, I don’t think “disloyal” would be an appropriate label, nor should lack of loyalty be the reason for rooting against him. Being a member of the hated C’s, and showing an unrelenting lack of class in leaving L.A. (and every other place he’s played) is plenty good reason to dislike Mr. O’Neal….

  20. any_one_mouse July 28, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    What about Rudy???

    Apologies in advance if I missed this, but I haven’t seen any comments on FB&G on Rudy’s imminent departure from Portland.

    Wouldn’t he be the perfect fit for this team? Tall guard who can handle the ball, shoot and slash? The ideal backcourt mate for Kobe, who could also slide over and play back-up SG if needed? A career 39% 3pt shooter who went 48% in the playoffs last year? Might not be the best defender out there, but not that much of a drop-off when compared to Blake, Fisher, Sasha or anyone else we have in-house not named Kobe?

    He makes 1.2M this coming year, with a team option for 2.2M next year.

    Isn’t this the player we should be targeting? Using Pau’s spanish connection? Throw in a first round pick if needed – use Shannon, I don’t care.

    Imagine a line-up of Rudy, Kobe, Ron, Pau and Bynum with a bench of Blake, Fisher, Barnes and Odom?

    Yes, I understand that Portland would be hesitant to trade with us, but given he has personally requested a trade out of town and the only other players for his services are Knicks and the (sigh!) Celtics, couldn’t we do a good job of convincing him that he would get the PT he craves here? With an opportunity to get a ring? Rudy would be our counter to Mike Miller signing with the Heat, but would come a lot cheaper…

    After all the Knicks aren’t competing for a title, and he’ll see limited minutes behind Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. With the Lakers, he could easily get 30 minutes at the 1, or split time between the 1 and 2.

    BTW, that article on LeBron was revealing…in that we now know how much the media (ESPN, to be specific) is in cahoots with the players..

  21. any_one_mouse July 28, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    As for the topic of this thread, I find it amazing that the Lakers started Smush, Kwame, Luke with Kobe and Odom and yet managed to reach the playoffs twice in a loaded west!

    I mean we are talking about Smush, Kwame and Luke – none of whom are in the L this year and Odom, who is a perennial under-achiever.
    If you spent the prime of your career carrying those guys on your back, wouldn’t you complain as well?

    I’ll be the first one to say that the way Kobe handled his business was pathetic, but the man had a legitimate excuse to gripe.

  22. any_one_mouse July 28, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    As for Mitch, I think he’s been competent, not excellent. He had major gaffes – the trade for Kwame, numerous poor drafts etc. The best things to have happened over the last couple of years – Pau, Drew, Ron cannot be things we credit Mitch for.

    Pau was gifted to us, Drew was a Jim Buss pick and Ron (and now Barnes) came here to play with Kobe.

    I’m not hating, just sayin’

  23. any_one_mouse July 28, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    As for Fish, look, I love the guy and I do appreciate the intangibles, but am I the only guy who thinks his productivity has dropped off a cliff, and that we could be a more efficient (dare I say, “better”) team with a different PG?

    Yes, he’s been clutch for us, but here are the facts – he shot 20% for us from the three point line in the Finals…

    I have no problems with keeping him on the roster and paying him what he deserves, but for goodness sakes, limit his playing time.

  24. any_one_mouse, the reports all say that Rudy wants to leave Portland because he isn’t a primary ball handler there. He might be equally dissatisfied with his role on the Lakers.

  25. The whole ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ thing is understandable for the regular Joes. Their lives are fairly regular and outside of their immediate circle of friends and family, the decisions they make don’t really influence anyone.

    Superstar athletes don’t get the same privilege. Nor should they. They enjoy fame, get paid astronomical salaries, and live their life to the fullest. With those perks comes something known as social responsibility. What these athletes do influences millions of people looking up to them. They enter a social contract by signing endorsement deals that lead large companies to invest in their brand. As their fame grows, so does their responsibility to set examples of positive behavior. If you can’t handle that responsibly, you should step out of the spotlight.

    In the end, LeBron James is not a bad guy for making a choice to go where he’ll be happiest playing. He is, however, a total douche for doing it in such an egocentric manner. He is also a traitor to those who thought he was a true winner and a true leader – leaving to be a sidekick in another superstar’s town will do that.

  26. I got to say, I am a Laker for life. I was born durring the demise of the Magic dynasty. In my first year of life Michael Jordan recieved his first Larry O’Brian trophy. I can remember back to the age of 4 and 5, thriving on tapes of the showtime era and the (then) current team that was lead by Nick “the quick” Van Exel. (one of my favorite Lakers to date) When Kobe joined the team, it was like a match made in heaven for me. He had a confidence about him when he played in his early years, as if he knew what he was going to become in this league. Now at the age of 21, some of my most proud years as a Laker fan are when Kobe carried this team with Lamar Odom, a paperclip, a rubberband, and a shoe string. (little macgyver refrence for you)

    Don’t get me wrong, I wanted Kobe to stay a Laker in the Summer of 07 as much as the next FB&G’er but I could understand how a winner could get fed up with it. If you remember correctly, Bynum’s coming out year was the beginnig of 07-08 before his injury. In the Summer, Kobe had every right to want J. Kidd for Bynum, straight up. The only big aquosition we had that Summer was Trevor Ariza, who was absolutely unproven in the NBA at that point. If he wanted out at that point in that not so brightful Summer, who could blame him. Now the way he went about it is a different story. If I remember correctly, he was sending the media mixed messages which was not cool for us fans.

    Bottom line, I would have rooted for Kobe as long as he didn’t sport Green and White should he have parted from the Lakers. But! I’m sure glad that will never be an issue again.

    PS: Bynum has successful knee surgery! Awesome!

  27. First off, if these remarks appear twice please delete one of them; I sent something similar earlier on my BlackBerry but it appears not to have gone through…

    Addressing my earlier referece to LeBron… When I compared his “Decision” to Kobe’s situations, I wasn’t clear in stating that by the use of the word decision I was speaking of his act of leaving Cleveland. I didn’t mean to reference the ESPN show when I used that term, though I see how it could have been taken that way.

    My point was simply to say that just as LeBron showed no loyalty to his fans and former Cleveland team when push came to shove, Kobe would have done the same to L.A. and its fans had he decided a change was the better move for him. The comparison is simply that there is no loyalty, and we can’t pile on LeBron for leaving the Cavs yet suggest that Kobe is somehow “more loyal.”

    “The Decision” — the TV show — was awful, for all of the reasons others have said previously. Much worse than Kobe’s radio interviews with Stephen A. and others.

    As to Jordan’s point, I agree with much of what you wrote.

    But you’re forgetting that the roster that was assembled as of the 2007 pre-season was essentially the same squad that would have Kobe only one-half game out of first place in the West on the night Bynum was lost for the season. The only change was the trade for Ariza, which came a few games into the season.

    Even Kobe himself admitted that the Lakers were a championship contender with a healthy Drew — and that was before the Gasol trade.

    They made that totally clear on Christmas day when they destroyed the Suns. It was a new day in the West.

    It’s totally incorrect to say that Mitch had never built a contending team around Kobe at the time he was crying to be traded; the pieces were already there, but Kobe wanted to jump ship before he saw what they were capable of.

    The 2007-08 Lakers of Fish, Lamar, The Machine (his great season), Bynum, an up-and-coming Farmar and Turiaf… That’s a far cry from the days of Smush and Kwame.

  28. Loyalty, in the NBA or any other professional sports, means one thing to me.

    You give your best when you are in the team’s uniform.

    That’s where Kobe trumps LeBron despite his tantrums. Kobe didn’t quit on the Lakers. Kobe did not give free prospective free agents who wanted to join him (were there any?) ambiguous answers deterring them (see Shaq, Ariza, etc.).

    And that’s why some players earn instant respect from the fans whereas some take a while. It will take a while for true basketball fans in Miami to warm up to Bosh or LeBron if they feel that the two have not given their best with their previous teams.

  29. @4,

    I hated Karl Malone before he came to the Lakers. At first, I thought he might just be coming here in the twilight of his career to ride Shaq and Kobe’s coattails to an NBA title. However, he busted his ass every game, learned the system, and demonstrated an incredible willingness to sacrifice personal numbers/acclaim for the good of the team. In a year filled with so much drama, the Mailman was the constant that served as the glue on an exceedingly dysfunctional team. He became an integral piece, making significant contributions and battling hard for the Lakers throughout the playoffs. I still contend to this day, that if Malone had stayed healthy during the Finals, we would have beat those Pistons, or at least come a lot damn closer to doing so. For all of these reasons, he earned my respect as a Laker. Gary Payton on the other hand…not so much

  30. I have a hard time laying major blame on Kobe for any of the three “trials” that he put us through. The Eagle, Colorado incident was a complete set-up by the young woman in question.

    She set out to entrap Kobe and extort money from him, and succeeded. Yes, he cheated on his wife, but if “those without sin had to cast the first stones, Kobe wouldn’t have had a mark on him.

    As to Kobe’s free agency in 2004, Kobe announced publicly that he was going to become a free agent and “experience being courted by interested teams”, but that his hope and intention was to “be a Laker for life” He also mentioned, I believe, the extra year the Lakers could offer once he became a free agent as a reason for the move.

    The media from top to bottom called him a liar, claimed that he was forcing Shaq out, that he was definitely leaving, and that the only reason he was doing this was to put the team through the wringer before leaving town.

    It turned out that the media were the ones making stuff up, and Kobe who had been telling it straight.

    Other posts have covered the 2007 “demand to be traded” which began as Kobe griping about the team’s lack of progress toward respectability, and after the media blew it out of proportion he backed up the media assumption by requesting a trade. The team made a couple of half hearted attempts a trade negotiations, and then both parties dropped it. I don’t think that either the team or Kobe were really serious about the trade, or it would have happened (such as happened when Shaq insulted Dr. Buss).

  31. Actually, Knickers, the Lakers do count the titles they won in Minnesota. They’ve only won 11 in L.A.

  32. Vincent,

    He isn’t going to be the primary ball handler anywhere. Even in Portland, it’s Miller and not Roy. I belive his grouse is more with playing time, though. His PT went down from year 1 to year 2, and he wasn’t too happy about that.

  33. Yeah, why doesn’t Honolulu, Hawaii have an NBA team? Heck, that would be as good as any reason to move and go live there. Good Post Jeff, and comments fellow FB&Gers.

    “Nothing can come of nothing.” – William Shakespeare

  34. @ #11. Jordan

    NIcely put man, what a nice rebuttle. +1

    I always forget that Kobe missed those last 15 games, the sports guy loves giving him hell for thats season.

  35. Sometimes loyalty just means treating a place that valued you with respect on the way out. I don’t think you can blame someone for setting out for greener pastures, but do they really have to burn down the farm before they leave? I think the word loyalty should be replaced with etiquette in most of the recent articles about Lebron. The guy just doesn’t know how to handle himself with dignity and class.

  36. @ any_one_mouse: I declared my love for Rudy here a few posts ago. He’s used to playing in big games also and could be a guy who blows games open with scoring bursts off the bench as well.

    Sadly, I think there’s no way Portland helps out the Lakers by trading him to LA, although the Lakers have an expiring contract they desire. Maybe if a third team got involved and sent a valuable player to Portland while taking Sasha’s expiring contract, but that’s a pipe dream.

    By the way, Ron Artest is still awesome:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Video-Ron-Artest-interviews-Ron-Artest?urn=nba-258838

  37. I’m making a real stretch here regarding Derrick Caracter’s “loyalty” (owes none to the Lakers at this point IMO), but Caracter is being pursued by international teams right now. It may be simply be too difficult to turn down that much money and possible playing time.

    So when we do our depth charts, Caracter may not be a shoo in.

    http://thehoopsmarket.blogspot.com/2010/07/hapoel-jerusalem-will-try-to-sign.html?%20utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+TheHoopsMarket+(The+Hoops+Market)&utm_content=Google+Reader

    (don’t know how reliable that link is but Hoopshype linked it).

  38. Clearly the value of loyalty these days has deflated. In these economic times we can’t blame athletes if their paydays trump loyalty. I think gone are the days when love of the game was the only motivation for players.

    Which brings up a question. Who do you consider the most loyal player in the NBA?

    Magic instantly comes to mind. Even Jordan has links with the Wizards and Bobcats now. Bird was a Pacer coach/exec. Maybe Stockton? Reggie Miller? Thoughts?

  39. Players used to be more loyal???

    Absolutely no way!

    The only time players were ‘loyal’ was when there was no such thing as free agency – thank you Curt Flood.

    The only way the players got reasonable, then unreasonable, pay was when they threatened not to play – thank you Baylor and West, Drysdale and Kolfax, and so on.

    This is such a garbage term. I liked how the LakerPauer used the word etiquette and referenced how Lebron carried himself on the way out and afterward, to base his criticism on.

  40. I don’t think we can compare anything to the level of the “decision.” I think Kobe now looks better, though his actions were less than awesome at the time, and CP3 will never have that level of disdain from the fans. I think LeBron set the bar of douche-baggery so high with everything he did, that even where CP3 (or the next future “I want out / I want to be a winner” player) to sit and demand a trade, it would pale in comparission. By that measure, future “disloyalty” or players with poor ettiqute can thank LeBron; I might argue, never again will we see something so monumentally spectacular. I believe even NBAers who can’t think straight saw that and can realize it was a poor choice.

    If you use NBA as a microcosm for life, how many people in my generation (24 now) are going to be like most of our fathers? Mine worked for the same company for 35 years. Will any of us do that? Won’t we hop ship a few times? Some statistic says that new grads will have 5+ jobs in their first 10 or so years of their career. Just different times and different mindsets, no?

  41. Superstars don’t get the same privileges as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

    When stars or athletes sign up for endorsements they aren’t paid to be loyal to their teams or to live to a higher calling or social responsibility as you call it.

    They are paid because they are great in what they do and people love them for it. Charles Barkley said it best, “I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”

    There is no such thing as social responsibility. We pay athletes huge amounts of money is because they perform at such an incredible level. The moment they stop performing we stop caring about them and paying them money….Shaq, Iverson, ahem ahem. It’s just that simple, all this social responsibility stuff? I mean c’mon, it’s about money and performance. Loyalty is gone…

    It is what it is, don’t try to hold other people to your ideals.

  42. nearly 7 years later and we care that Shaq might sign with Boston? Why would anyone care? Had he left and signed with Boston right away (and they were also in the position that they are in now) then I could see some betrayal….but this will be his 3rd team since he left the lakers.

    If I worked for a company and they kept promising me that we would be number one and kept bringing these guys in that were good but not really great…and I gave it 7 years…I’d walk too. I wouldn’t spend my life wasting my time with mediocrity….when all I have ever wanted was to win and be with the best group of guys possible.

  43. @Chris J #27,

    Again, you are correct in what you say. Heading into 2007, it was a new day that Kobe was a part of. But, up until that summer, Drew had been a soft dough boy, Vujacic a practice-time marksman who missed every shot by thiiss much during the actual games, Walton injury-prone, and Odom Mr. Inconsistent. It’s not like his team was custom built for him and winning 60 plus games. He was carrying a 45-win squad…if last year’s Cavs, with Mike Brown still coaching, with Shaq and Big Z, along with Delonte, if that team were still together without Lebron, they’d be able to win at least 45 games. Lebron made that team go, sure, but it’s not like he was playing with scrubs. He had three of the NBA’s top 15 3-point shooters, two giant seven-footers (both who had made the all-star team within 2 years), the best pick-and-roll defensive PF in the league, a 20 and 10 floor-spacing PF, athletic wings and a deep bench.

    You take Kobe away from that 07 team and they’d be lucky to win 25 games. Drew really, really improved, but it was Kobe who opened everything up for him. Besides, Drew went on to get hurt the next three years running, so, to a certain degree, Kobe was right about that roster. Without Drew, you’re left with Kwame (pre-Gasol) and Mihm…yikes.

    @gsx,

    Thanks! And the sports guy can’t get off kobe’s jock. he’ll go out of his way to take shots at #24. Can’t say i blame him. I’d be pissed too if i were a celtics fan. lol

  44. We as fans are loyal to our teams, but that doesn’t mean that players will always take significantly less to stay “loyal” to a team. I have a different question, how “loyal” would we as fans be if our team wasn’t consistently dedicated to fielding a winning team? Maybe this can’t be answered due to the frequent success and abundance of talent. I’ve been a fan since ’85 when I first started watching hoops, so the only real lean years that I’ve endured as a Laker fan occured after Magic retired and then we rebuilt around Nick, Eddie and co. which then led to trading for Kobe & luring in Shaq. Yes we missed the playoffs in ’05 and were a marginal team for two years afterwards, but all in all, I’ve been blessed to watch a team whose ownership and management have worked to field a contender many years and a decent team most of the time. I wonder how loyal we might be if we were still trying to chase the first title since ’88 and not the 2 time defending champs?

    I’m so glad we can debate loyalty and hypothetical questions about fandom instead of worrying if we might be able to compete for the #8 seed.

    Go Lakers.

  45. 31 & 32 — The Lakers didn’t used to “count” the Minny championships in their promotions and later on they did, as their overall franchise total approached the C’s. I have a vintage Parade tee shirt from the Showtime era that only references the LA titles.

    Here’s a question to all: Are the Minny banners hanging in Staples, or is there any other reference to those days within the walls of Staples center?

  46. What happend to the “edit” feature?

  47. Travis,
    Everybody has social responsibility, including athletes. And like it or not, everyone is a role model, including athletes.

  48. And the arms race in the NBA continues. Eddie House to Miami. Now they can spread the floor with 2 bona fide 3 point shooters in Miller and House. Bring it on!

  49. 46, House is the perfect PG for Miami. Wade and Lebron can bring up the ball, House just spots up for threes. Sure he’ll be a sieve on defense, but I think we all know that defensive sieve’s at PG can be made up for.

  50. @48 (Zephid): but can defensive sieves at PG be made up for without an imposing front line?

    eh, who am i kidding? Riley and Spoelstra are defensive-minded coaches… i’m sure they will be able to come up with a defensive scheme that maximizes the abilities of their personnel.

  51. #43, burningjoe. Your analogy isn’t quite accurate with Bron. It would be more like if the guys that were brought in were good enough to do all the grunt work and get you in front of the decisionmaker but when it came to the final close to get the account, you’d fall flat on your face and let everyone down.

    Bron’s guys were good enough to get Cle’ the best record in the league two years in a row and he put up monster stats to get the MVP. But he couldn’t close the deal when it counted.

  52. I just have to say, as a Lakers fan, that I absolutely love seeing the photo of Fisher standing up to LeBron under the post title of “State of Loyalty in the NBA.” It brought a smile to my face as I am one who is most glad Fisher will again be donning the forum blue and gold next season.

  53. Lakers fans need to remember the summer of ’96 when Shaquille O’Neal destroyed the fortunes of Magic faithful bolting a team that had made the finals only two season before in order to join the Lakers.

    The only difference between the James situation and the Shaq situation is that James copped out by conspiring with two other players. If he had signed to play with one of them, that’s one thing. But the way this all played out was rather unacceptable.

  54. @R – I remember the same thing as your shirt suggests, that the Lakers didn’t used to count their titles from Minnesota.

    Even as a kid I thought that was a dumb decision; over time someone in the front office saw the light, I guess. A Laker NBA title is a Laker NBA title, particularly if it means the franchise can soon catch or surpass Boston’s tally.

    Answering your question, there is a single banner on the wall at Staples that displays the five titles the team won before moving to L.A. The banner is next to the other championship banners, though all of the others from the L.A.-era offer one banner per title, rather than five crammed into one.

  55. The biggest difference w/ today’s players is that most are more business savvy and have more opportunities than players of earlier eras.

    Consider, at the opposite end of today’s spectrum, the NBA’s 1st superstar, George Mikan, winner of 5 rings, retired rather early in his career to become an attorney because he couldn’t make enough money as a professional b-ball player to support his growing family.

    Today’s NBA players spend a lot more time with non-team members (Olympics, World games, etc.) than ever before because of “loyalty” (playing for country, etc.). Of course friendships & mutual respect is going to grow and possibilities are going to hatch. I have no problem with what LeBron and Bosh decided to do. I feel what’s bothering the owner the most is realizing that they can not control these guys with money anymore. Guys are leaving money all over the place to play where they want to play.

    Superstars doing it is one thing, but career role players like Matt Barnes? A guy who will probably make less that $22.5 mill in his entire career leaving approx. $4 mill on the table over 2 years to play with the Lakers instead of the Cavs?

    Believe me, guys like that are not just going thru the motions to collect a paycheck. They are playing for the gold (as in NBA ring).

  56. Jack Nicholson III July 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Hey mannnnnn. It’s always a bummer to see a fan favorite skip town but that’s why you follow the team. Players come and go. I just think the important thing for players to remember is to not flush your former team like a giant terd in front of the entire world on a tv special.

  57. Chris J @ 56 – Thank you for that info.

    I’ve been limited to seeing the Lakers in the Bay Area for many, many years – hope to get to Staples one of these days!

  58. ken berger reports knicks have extended an offer to shannon brown.

  59. lakersfan43ver July 29, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    How do you guys feel about sasha getting traded in teh next couple of weeks, mayb in days..and where are some destinations that would and could happent that you have heard of(espn insider mayb?).

    and shannon brown returning yes no?

  60. very interesting takes. most of my thoughts have already been expressed. all i have to add is if shaq becomes a celtic, the lakers should never retire his jersey. we should do something symbolic . Maybe we could give it to a rookie player every year a rookie makes the team. The following year, the rookie can choose any other number available.

    if shaq doesn’t join the celtics, i think that someday (maybe in 30 years?) the jersey should be up there. the jerseys are up there for how their play, not their personalities.

  61. @ # 53 Chownoir

    best regular season record doesn’t mean much of nothing. especially in a Conference that the competition isn’t all that tough. beating up on bottom dweleres dose’nt really add up to fighting the big boys regualrly.

    But…are you really going to say that Mo Willimas and Illgasukus are even close to the caliber of players that say Rondo and Perkins are? Or Dwight and Jameer?

    Cleveland filled up the roster with 2nd rate players. Even the pick up of Jamison is suspect to me. What has he done to prove himself over the years? Sure he is about 20 and 8 for his carrer…but…that just isnt good enough to really compete. Was Shaq the proof lebron needed that they “were making moves”? Shaq 10 years ago…that would be a sure sign that they were doing the right thing. 38 year old out of shape Shaq…not even close.

    About him quitting…I dont know…that makes no difference to the argument of loyalty and staying with the team.

  62. i’m not that crazy about shannon’s skill level. his athleticism doesn’t compensate for it. i’d rather keep both, but if i had to choose, i’d prefer sasha.

  63. Re: Ron Artest video…

    Which is more mind bending to imagine:

    1) Ron Artest and Celine Dion in a duet cover of Ebony and Ivory?

    or…

    2) Ron Artest, math teacher at Rock Lake Middle School in Queensbridge, New Jersey?

    I love Ron Artest. Plays wicked good defense, is afraid of nothing, is a fierce competitor, is full blown bat poop crazy, and is the greatest interview of all time.

    What is not to love?

  64. I dont understand all the hoopla with the LeBron/Cleveland scenario. He didnt win a title in Cle. and left the team to go play in Miami. He didnt promise the world he would sign with Cle., then go play for another team. He just left his options open as we all should do in life when making decisions. Whether it turns out to be a good decision or not, nobody will know until after the fact.

    There is a winner(Miami) and a loser(Cle.) in all aspects of society. I fault Clev. FO and fans for adding gas to the flames by being sore losers. On ESPN I saw a dude had to be escorted out of a Cle. Indians baseball game cause he had on a Bron jersey. Just cause he left town, you cant be a fan anymore? Its not the players that need to get a better perspective of the situation,it is the fans in the stands that need to understand that it is just a game.

  65. Funky Chicken July 29, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    DirtySanchez, you use an anecdote about how Lebron left Cleveland to make your point that it is the FANS that need to understand it is just a game? That that to the self-titled “King”.

  66. 1) The Heat can have House. As long as they don’t add a significant big man, they shouldn’t be the clear cut favorite quite yet.

    2) Queensbridge, NJ? I’m pretty sure Queens is a burrow of NYC.

    3) I hope that we can retain Shannon Brown but if we can’t, I’ll just have to hope for Sasha to be his 07-08 self.

  67. Chownoir (was J) July 29, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    @63 Burningjoe, I never said his guys were equivalent to Dwight and Jameer. However his guys were good enough to beat a motivated and healthy Laker team and Boston before they shut it down.

    They were good enough to take a 2-1 lead. I’m just saying those guys weren’t that bad. A large part of the blame lies on his feet too.

    I’ve got no problems with him leaving. But to continue to use your analogy, I would have problems when you left that you complain the company didn’t do anything for you when they bent over backwards for you.

    Agree that loyalty can only go so far. But also recognize how much the company did for you. If they truly did screw you over with bad resources then sure complain while you leave. It’s not like Cle gave him Kwame and Smush as starters. Mo and Z were all stars were they not?

    I think Cle did as good of a job as they could. If Bron was more graceful and professional in his exit, I wouldn’t say one word. Ultimately I think that’s the kind of loyalty I have in mind. If you’re being treated fairly well, then have the decency and loyalty to make it easy for all parties.

    If a company does shady stuff or mistreats me, then there is no loyalty from me and I’d blast them while I walked out the door with no notice.

  68. @ 69 Chownoir (was J)

    I am not trying to battle you here…sorry if its coming across that way.

    If I made the company I work for Millions and Millions of Dollars and they still came up short of getting me real help…I’d not feel bad at all when I moved on.

    Mo and Z were All Stars (Z 2 times, Mo 1 Time)…heck even Jamison was an All Star once if I recall? (to lazy to actually look that up). But that means little too especially considering Mo was what, the 3rd pick by the coach after injuries by his first 2 choices? And what other Center was there in the East in ’03 and ’05 when Z was an All Star? They had to pick some body.

    And again, beating a healthy Laker squad (or any other team) in the regular season means little to nothing.

    I am not defending LeBron, but I would have bailed too. And I didn’t hear him blast Cleveland at all (however it certainly has gone the other direction).

    In fact in my opinion,. this worked out better than he or any of his gang would have thought, because its been what…20 days and we are still talking about it.

  69. about the rudy f. comment:
    i love watching the dude…i think his game fits perfectly for the triangle (and his more consistent than machine), but also, this is phils last year so to say, and i think rudy would also be great in a pick and roll offense which the lakers could easily transition to if they decide to not continue with the triangle… imagine bryant and gasol/drew in pick nd roll with blake/fisher/rudy on the perimeter and odom/rudy slashing to the basket…

    im already sold the lakers will win it all this year for a threepeat but im looking ahead in the future…the lakers have the players for pick nd roll offense

    watcha guys think?