Los Angeles — I don’t know about you, but for me the melodrama is over. The last three months of constant trade-to-New-York speculation and rumors involving Denver All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, the sixth-leading scorer in the NBA, was getting on my last nerve while I was covering the 60th NBA All-Star weekend.
Clearly Anthony wanted a big payday of three years for $65 million and wanted out of the Mile High City, all before the current NBA deal and CBA ends on June 30.
What’s different about the NBA from the NFL, you ask? Players eventually have it their way in the NBA. The money is guaranteed. It’s a star-driven league, and Anthony, who’s averaged 31 points a game the last nine games, wanted to go east to New York.
Remember, he played college ball at Syracuse and won a national title with the Orangemen. So, where there’s smoke there’s usually fire, and just days before the trade deadline the Knicks and Nuggets and Timberwolves agreed to do it, a three-team blockbuster 12-player deal with $3 million in cash to top it off.
Anthony and Chauncey Billups, with Sheldon Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman, go from Denver to New York. New York sends Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallman, the seven-foot Russian center Timofey Mozgov and two draft picks to Denver.
New York also traded Anthony Randolph and Eddie Curry to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Corey Brewer, and the Timberwolves also get a $3 million check.
This deal is huge for New York City. They have two of the top-10 NBA players now in All-Stars Amar’e Stoudemire and Anthony together. The Knicks are relevant again,
Stoudemire is the first Knicks All-Star since Patrick Ewing in 1992 to start in the All-Star game. Plus they have a veteran point guard in Billups, who’s still a very good player.
For the Timberwolves, Brewer will be missed. The former first-round pick played hard and was a solid defender. Randolph is big and can score; Curry, however, has been a bust.
NFL owners are right
The NFL owners decided a year ago to opt out of the current NFL collective bargaining agreement with the players union, the NFLPA. The 32 NFL owners have had that right to decide what’s best for their business. We as fans have to trust that what they have decided to do is the right thing, because whatever happens and when they get a deal, we have to live with the result.
After all, it’s their business. Right?
It’s their league. That NFL shield that we flock to as fans is the hook. We are just consumers in love with a product, and as season-ticket holders and corporate sponsors, we need the NFL, because it’s our fix. The NFL game is our release; it allows all of us to win, whether it’s through fantasy football or our heroes the players on Sundays and Mondays.
The potential of no NFL games really scares me. I remember the strike and the scab players back in 1987 because the game is my business; it’s important to me and my family. The NFL recovered from that year. In 1987, it trailed Major League Baseball, our American pastime, in popularity and ratings. Not anymore — the NFL took off and has flown past MLB.
I’m passionate about the NFL. That is no secret. It’s powerful to me. From my vantage point, it makes no sense for the games to stop. The money is there, $9 billion annually. Every other sports league has taken a hit since 1987: MLB’s steroid scandal, the lockout by the National Hockey League a couple of years ago, and the issues facing the NBA.
The NFL owners are billionaires. They are Fortune 500 corporations. Who are the players, the employees, to ask to see their books? The players, a lot of them, are millionaires. Many of them are doing well, but not all of them. Some fall between the cracks of bad choices, habits and decisions.
Some go on after their average two-and-half-year NFL careers to become successful NFL owners, like Jerry Richardson, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars; politicians, like Lynn Swann; Supreme Court justices, like Alan Page; and doctors, lawyers, educators, sports reporters, commentators, businessmen, salesmen, prisoners.
For players in the NFL, on average, it’s like the fast lane going through fast-food drive-through windows — it doesn’t last very long. Did you know that 60 percent of NFL players are broke within five years after their careers are over?
The NFL owners are right. They know who they are dealing with. They understand that just because they as an ownership group of 32 individual franchises don’t agree on some revenue issues among themselves, it can best be dealt with by simply changing the system and paying the players a lot less, since many of them are going to waste it anyway.
Is that fair? Is that good for business? No! But the owners write the checks.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.