Thursday, June 10, 2010

NBA free agent “summit” proves league has no guts

By Rick Morris

The NBA already proved that it was selective at best and gutless at worst in terms of enforcement of tampering rules going into this “Summer of LeBron” when David Stern fined Mark Cuban for fairly innocuous remarks while remaining silent about clever but underhanded moves by other teams. Now the league’s fecklessness is extending to the cartel of star players who have always been the power behind the throne.

LeBron, D-Wade, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh and (with all due respect, one of these names is not like the others) Joe Johnson are openly discussing their upcoming “summit” in which they will deign to reshape the landscape of the league heading into the next decade. Of course, they and David Stern are also muddying the waters about whether this event will happen.

At the risk of sounding as connected to contemporary mores as C Montgomery Burns, may I point out yet again that all of these players are under contract until the clock strikes midnight on July 1? For them to openly speculate about their surroundings at a time past that date is disruptive to a standard of equal justice that (theoretically) the league is supposed to propagate.

Now, this ESPN article contains items of an entirely contradictory note about this issue:

“Last week, the NBA said Wade did not break any league tampering rules with his comments.
Under league rules, players cannot tamper with other players, though it's a given that players talking among themselves not only happens, but is impossible to regulate.”


“The NBA metes out discipline only in what it said are ‘the most egregious’ cases, and said Wade's comments ‘do not meet that standard.’”

So which is it? Players cannot tamper or they can be judged to do so in “the most egregious cases?” As always, the answer will come down to what is most convenient for the league at that very moment. In the meantime, the hotel or resort hosting this summit might as well order toilet paper embossed with the NBA rulebook, because that will symbolize what is taking place anyway.

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