I’m not alone in observing that former players don’t always make the best commentators, and in some cases perpetuate erroneous information and outdated mores. But there are extremely bright spots as well, such as the quirky and somewhat subversive Brent Barry.
On NBA TV Sunday night, as the rumors of a bi-conference, tri-time zone mega-trade hit the web, Barry and Steve Smith were asked what they thought about the proposed deal involving Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Derrick Favors and at least nine other players. Instead of answering whether the swaps “made sense” for the teams and stars involved, Barry felt compelled to defend the dignity of the minor players that would make the trade possible.
Barry pointed our that should the deal indeed go through, a gallery of players you may have never heard of like Quinton Ross, Anthony Morrow, Ben Uzoh, and Stephen Graham will be transplanted, along with their families, to a new home, school district, mortgage and community. The man we affectionately called “Bones” in Seattle shook his head and reminded the show’s host and audience that being an ancillary part of such a trade can be a major bummer.
It’s not without reason that we by and large consider NBA players to be the privileged few. They have been given enormous size and talents and are compensated in millions of dollars for displaying their abilities before the public. But the demands of their lifestyle are often viewed only from the positive side “they get all that cash, fly around in first class, travel the country, and are paid play hoops when they aren’t balling out off the court!”
This opinion is understandable, but I have to think being traded can just suck.
Sometimes being traded can be a blessing, especially for the player (see Example A: Finga Gunz). But for wives, girlfriends, kids and even parents, it’s not just a part of the business, it’s a life relocation.
Yesterday, John Hollinger wrote a piece that expertly deconstructed the significant elements of this proposed trade from a basketball perspective. He began by asking “Why?” because the trade seems to add little to Carmelo’s championship hopes, yet all (potentially) involved are clearly on the move at his whim. I have to imagine Anthony Morrow would echo Hollinger’s sentiments.
Last summer, LeBron James may have held his professional destiny in his hands like few athletes before him, but Carmelo has demonstrated the power to alter the addresses of a dozen colleagues (and even some players who aren’t even in the league yet).
There’s a cruelty to that reality that is mirrored in the language we use to describe the sundry non-star players involved in this purported deal.
They are “spare parts” and “extra pieces” necessary to make the money work. They’re also teammates, friends and providers whom Carmelo’s trade can uproot from home, shake until all the dirt falls off and replant on the other side of the country.
Too often we use the ESPN Trade Machine and unfounded rumors to discuss player movement as commodities trading. Thanks to Brent Barry for reminding us that trades change lives off the court as well.
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