There Are More Important Things

Phillip Barnett —  August 6, 2010

Los Angeles Lakers' Ron Artest gets in the face of Boston Celtics Paul Pierce (R) as Rasheed Wallace looks on during the first half of Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals basketball series in Los Angeles, California, June 17, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

In late June, a brawl broke out at a kindergarten graduation involved 20 adults, two of which were arrested. Not that a brawl breaking out at a kindergarten graduation wasn’t bad enough, but the adults began fighting over a Facebook comment that mentioned the Lakers. Adults. Facebook. Fighting. Kindergarten graduation.

We are currently living in a world where society gets scarier and scarier for our children every day. I’m a firm believer in providing an environment in which the children of my life have the best opportunity to succeed. A little over two years ago, my sister gave birth to my first nephew. Not even as a father, my perspective on the lives of children changed dramatically. When you have young kids in your life, there is a burden of raised responsibility that is placed upon you. I’m not saying that I’ve become a dramatically different person since the birth of my nephew, but his mere existence reinforces the fact that there are more important things in life than sports – most notably our youth.

As sports fans, we are a different kind of emotional beings. We love to defend the players and teams that we’ve invested a considerable amount of emotional time in, but there has to reach a line in which our defense has to stop. There is no point in Ron Artest defending players on the bench because they’re out of bounds. I’m sure he can do a great job in guarding those players, but it’s pointless and it makes him look foolish in the same way that fighting at a kindergarten graduation does. We need to make sure that we understand where the realm of our sports fandom begins and ends. This isn’t about the Lakers v. the NBA, this is about unruly parents v. their children. If we can’t even give our kids a peaceful graduation during some of the earliest years of lives, than we are failing them.

TrueHoop’s Henry Abbot wrote about the Bill Simmons/Chuck Klosterman podcast where they talked extensively about LeBron James decision to go to Miami. An interesting exchange that Simmons and Klosterman have involves the question of the ultimate consequence of sport. Simmons argues that James doesn’t understand the “life and death” part of sports. Klosterman argues that there is no life and death part of sports – and this is an argument that needs to be hammered into adults across the nation. No matter how strongly you feel about your favorite basketball team, there is never a situation that should call for one to engage in an altercation over what may or may not happen on the basketball court.

We need to be more responsible about our actions around our children to ensure they grow up with as many opportunities to succeed as possible. It’s a cruel, cruel world we live in, there is no need for that cruelness to be extrapolated from the adults in lives of these children.

Phillip Barnett

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29 responses to There Are More Important Things

  1. I’m sorry, but after reading the description of the brawl, I have to completely disagree with you. Whatever those people are, they’re not “adults”…

  2. “We are currently living in a world where society gets scarier and scarier for our children every day”

    With all due respect, that statement is just not true. Humans have a flaw, well, let’s say many flaws, but one of them is selective memory. As time passes, you remember the “good ole days” and forget the bad things. It is nostalgia pure and simple. Kind of like forgetting that Michael Jordan shot 5/19 (26% FG%) in a close out game of the 1996 finals (i think, but it may be another finals closeout game), but roasting Kobe for shooting 6/24 in the game 7 against the Celtics this year (despite the Lakers overall shooting 32%, despite the Celtics shooting 40%, despite Kobe pulling down 15 rebounds, shutting down the Celtics best player in Rondo, and overall simply leading his team to a championsihp). When it comes to the good ole days, you tend to forget the bad stuff.

    That’s why every generation says lines like the one above “in the good ole days ______.” “Back when i was a kid ______.” The truth is that the world has always been a dangerous place with a bunch of psychos running around. It has also always been a wonderful place and everyone should consider themselves lucky to be alive! Nothing has changed but your perception.

    [Edited by Zephid for political rhetoric] Hey, at the very least they don’t have you practicing duck and cover in case a nuclear warhead is dropped on your head!

  3. Hey Phillip, you should watch some Criminal Minds. Nothing ruins your faith in the world like watching a bunch of fictionalized serial killers murdering innocent people for giggles (or out of craziness).

  4. The first link did not work for me. In what way were the Lakers mentioned by those people?

    When children are brought up in less desirable environments and by irresponsible adults, it perpetuates a cycle in which there is no improvement. I have met and seen many people that made me dumbfounded as to how little manner and/or tact they could show – then I meet their parents, and their parents’ parents.

    Unfortunately, nowadays, a lot of the younger people don’t have an inkling of understanding of respect. I am fairly young myself (22) and sometimes it is frustrating. I can’t control other people, but I know for damn sure I will do a better job of raising my kids than most of what I’ve seen.

  5. In some ways, we are too worried about safety for the children – it has gotten to the point of being overprotective.

  6. Way off-topic here, but anyone knows what makes Kobe Bryant’s NBA Contract so special? I have read it once but I forgot what it is (it’s something like only he or 2/3 other players have this kind of contract, exception-something).

    Thanks. Would really help my itching brain.

  7. 5 – I don’t know if there’s a specific name for the contract itself, but because Kobe has spent so many years with the same team, he’s the only players in the league with a no-trade clause (in the traditional sense). I think you can only negotiate for a no-trade clause after 8 years in the league, and something like 4 with the same team.

  8. Can’t edit my comment, so I’ll add this: some players have a non-traditional no-trade clause (like Nate Robinson last year) – when they have partial Bird rights with their current team, they can veto a trade so they don’t lose their Bird rights, as far as I’m aware. But Kobe’s the only one who’s negotiated a full no-trade clause into his actual contract.

  9. I believe Dirk got a ‘no trade’ clause in his contract this time, in return for taking less than the max money available.

  10. There is no excuse for behavior like this, but often people allow their passion for a team, sport or player to boil over into aggression, often beginning with verbal aggression that leads to physical violence.

    One of the many reasons that I read this blog is because the conversation is mostly intellectual and reasoned rather that being an excuse to call names, belittle, or brag.

    I’d much rather read seventy or eighty well thought out posts, focusing on MY team, then the thousands of posts on other sites that are nothing but bragging, slamming or name calling.

    Thankyou FB&G for giving us a blog for grownups.

  11. Thanks Snoopy2006 and Craig W., now I remember.

    It’s the “no-trade” clause, and I think Dirk’s the other guy that has it.

    So, guys, what are your thoughts about that?

  12. The ‘no trade’ clause gives the player leverage and doesn’t allow the team to trade them to any club with the best deal for the owner, but a poor situation for the player. You can see why owners don’t want to include this in any of their contracts.

  13. I wonder what was said on Facebook. I think the worst thing about this though is the fact that they have a graduation for Kindergarden.

  14. If I remember right, the “no-trade” only applies if you’ve been with the same team for x number of years, and what it does is giving the player veto rights on a trade. So if Mitch goes insane and wants to trade him to the Timberwolves to get cap space, Kobe just has to say no, and the trade can’t happen.

    If I remember right. It’s the only trade rule I know, because I thought it was cool. :)

  15. there is no need for that cruelness to be extrapolated from the adults in lives of these children

    True words

  16. No-trade is really cool, if it wasn’t for that, Kobe would be a Bull and playing with Rose perhaps.

    And we’d have Deng to go along with Pau and Odom or something.

    Ouch.

  17. Harold’s giving me nightmares about Halloween in 2007, when Bucher came on ESPN and said the Lakers were about to finalize a deal that would have sent Kobe to the Bulls in exchange for a pile of crap that included Ben Wallace.

    I remember thinking, “If Kupchak makes that trade, someone in L.A. will seriously shoot him.” Thankfully the trade rumors weren’t accurate.

  18. Totally off topic again,

    But Jimmy Fallon came up with a new nickname for Shaq in the (puke) green Celitcs uniform. He’s gone from Shaq to Shrek.

  19. I think Wade, along with Dirk and Kobe, now has a no-trade clause. It’s not only based on X number of years in the league and Y with one team (can’t remember specifics right now), you have to become an unrestricted free agent and re-sign with the same team in order to be eligible.

  20. No, Dwyane doesn’t have a no-trade clause. Pretty sure it’s 10 years in a row with one team to be eligible for one.

  21. Mimsy, that’s what I remember, too.
    It was a pretty cool exception to have. I mean, you can choose where to go to and if you don’t like the GM’s proposed destination for you, you can just say no.

    But, on the other hand, it takes off the whole “it’s a business thing”. I mean, if LBJ had that kind of exception, he would have gone to any team he would want to, considering his over-inflated ego of himself (this super-rhetoric is intended for strong emphasis. ;P).

    Good thing, only two players in this league have it, and they are two of the most intelligent players to have that kind of selfish thinking.

  22. Phillip,

    Thank you for the article. I have two sons, an eight year old and a 6 month old (born right before we beat the Cs in the TD Garden in February). As much as I love my Lakers, nothing compares to my love of family. That said, what’s important as fans is passing along the love and fandom of our teams and sharing the history – which many of us do on this very site. My oldest was 2 when I took him to his first Laker playoff game. You might remember Fisher hitting a shot w/ .4 seconds. He talks about it as if he truly remembers, but that’s the great part – he will remember that because I’ve talked about it with him. We also talk a lot about how tough it was to lose in the Finals in ’08. He learned that sometimes your team’s best isn’t good enough. Trust me when I say that he enjoyed sharing the 2nd half of game 7 this year – a truly classic moment shared across generations. Sports isn’t life or death – it may feel that way for a few fleeting moments, but our family and friends and the values we instill and display daily are what’s most important.

  23. Warren Wee Lim August 7, 2010 at 7:05 am

    The No-Trade Clause as specified in the CBA is limited to players who have atleast 8 years of NBA experience and who has played for the same team for 4 straight seasons without getting waived.

    Not many players can attain this and not many teams will offer their stars this. I guess Dirk was just one of those franchise players for life kinda guys for Cuban… but Kobe definitely wants to be here and we want him back.

  24. Warren,

    Isn’t it 7 years? Kobe signed his deal after his 7th season. Also that 7 or 8 years can’t be with an extension. Kobe’s was rare because most players sign extensions removing them from being able to have a no-trade clause. He didn’t. His no-trade clause is grand-fathered in with his new extension though.

  25. Society, the NBA is actually safer than it was in the past.

    At least depending on who’s numbers you see. But I agree with Kaveh in that there is a lot of selective memory going on in general.

    People want to talk about the state of things in the NBA and yet people somehow forget the way Kermit Washington clocked Rudy T.

    In fact, I am thankful NBA players these days throw punches like girls so we don’t see another thing like that again. God forbid.

    The rise of cable, the internet, sensationalism makes little things like a fight out of a facebook comment even exist outside of that moment and those people involved. How would those things exist if we didn’t have a way to put a microscope on things and send it to every part of the world for people to dissect?

    The world will be what it is. Smart people will do smart things. Dumb people will do dumb things.

    So what?

    The only difference is instead of just those people knowing about a dumb incident, EVERYONE knows.

    The news exists these days on stories like this, not on actual news anymore.

    Bye.

  26. I agree with the points made by kaveh (2), Geoff (13), and Gabriel R (25).

    A graduation from Kindergarten? How coddled we’ve become.

    And yes, every generation thinks the world is falling apart. Some of our parents said it. Now some of us say it. When these children get old, some of them will say it.

    Finally, the 24/7 internet/cell phone/talk radio pop culture puts everyone under a microscope.
    It’s up to us to stop gawking/paying attention/wasting our time and ignore it.
    So someone did something dumb in their life? No!!!
    Ignore most of it and move along.
    No one’s an angel. Get over it.

  27. “A graduation from Kindergarten? How coddled we’ve become.”

    Au contraire. Napoleon: A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon. And so they hand out colored ribbon at kindergarten graduation. They’ll soon be getting gold stars for every row on the multiplication table they’ve memorized. And if some are lucky enough, they’ll even later be hoisting the one trophy, same as Kobe & Co.

  28. Regarding the no-trade clause, I believe it has to be a situation where you’ve been in the league for eight years, with the same team for four years, and in addition, you cannot add it into an extension. Kobe got his (summer of 2004, wasn’t it?) after his eighth season, when he became a free agent, openly flirted with the Clippers, and then re-signed with the Lakers. At that point the NTC was added. If he had just re-upped without becoming a free agent, I don’t think it could have been added. This past season he signed an extension, but because the NTC was already in the contract, it just carried over into the extension.

    Someone should really give Larry Coon a call to confirm any of this.

    In Kobe’s case (and likely in Dirk’s case, but I haven’t followed his situation as closely), the clause is mostly symbolic, because there is precious little chance the team is going to trade him in any event. The Lakers know which side of their bread is buttered.