The Phantom Menace
You're welcome for the totally unrelated but awesome videos that someone else excavated. Read me exulting in the Celtics and calling John Wall the first major 2010 piece. Here are some other ideas I've had to deal with:
Okay, so my suggestion about a year ago that max players be given stock options was a silly one. I can't even find it today. The larger point, though, was that the mini-max could be the beginning of players truly starting to control teams—something they have been accused of for years. This summer, when all the marquee free agents will sit down and carve up the territories, or partner up, or whatever analogy puts the funniest hats on their heads in your head, we'll see the next step. Like the Celtics before them, LeBron and company will be renting franchises as staging areas for their championship dreams. Power to the people.
Now, if I can step out of my cloak of self-seriousness for a second, here's the absolutely silly aspect of this all: I blame USA Basketball. Colangelo initially wanted a college-like team where role players and pliant superstars would come together in the service of this great land. Instead, he ended up with the best of the fucking best overcoming the universe with the sheer awesomeness of their aggressive, up-tempo play and bonding over it like a bunches of kids at summer camp. It was their show, not Coach K's, and Kobe teaching Bron about shooting is symbolic player self-determination on every level imaginable.
Team USA was meant to return basketball to America, snatching it from the hands of thugs with big salaries. Instead, it created a tight-knit community of NBA A-listers, including most of this summer's big free agents. In a way, what's resulted is the worst nightmare of this original Colangelo vision of basketball. Plenty of these guys were already friends, but this made it official. If you don't see a direct line from Beijing to the conversations expected to take place between the Class of 2010, you're a fucking idiot. It's a cabal whose internal deliberations will have a huge effect on the alignment of power in the NBA for the next decade or so.
Eric Freeman said of all this "It's just like government. Those with the most money conspire to shape the league under the guise of patriotism." Except in this case, the "guise of patriotism" was at first a means to put players in line. Instead, LeBron and friends ended up overthrowing the damn thing. What they're left with is collusion forged in the crucible of intense love-for-country. To me, that sounds even more like the fundamentals of government.