NBA Sports 

Loyalty in Sports is Not Always a Two Way Street

If a player decides to leave a franchise, regardless of service time or method of leaving (request a trade or free agency), they are often times labeled as selfish, ungrateful and disloyal.

If a franchise decides to cut ties with a player, despite service time or what that player has contributed over the course of the relationship, it is viewed as what’s best for business.

When it comes to loyalty in sports, you can throw that right out the window. It does not exist, or at least does not exist a majority of the time.

Professional sports are a business plain and simple. It is completely understandable for an owner and front office to do whatever it takes to build a team that can contend for championships. Players will be traded or released or waived or cut and most of the time will have no say in the matter. That’s business. However, when a player wants to go elsewhere, it is not viewed as business anymore and instead loyalties are questioned.

Players are wanting to do what they feel is best for them, their families and futures. Some will value money more than others. Some will covet the chance at competing for championships. Whatever is best for that player, to them, that is a business move on their part, but it’s not perceived that way.

Owners will not hesitate to move on from a player, no matter the circumstance, but once the roles are reversed, it is suddenly a problem.

Last week was the NBA trade deadline and there was a plethora of trades that occurred around the league. One trade in particular was quite eye opening in terms of loyalty between players and franchises.

On Wednesday night, the Dallas Mavericks dealt Harrison Barnes to the Sacramento Kings for Zach Randolph and Justin Jackson. All is right on the surface, but it appeared that Dallas completed the deal during the second half of a game against the Charlotte Hornets. Barnes knew via his agent that there was a possibility he could be moved, but didn’t know when and still elected to play in the game for the team that was possibly about to ship him off.

Barnes did not play in the fourth quarter as he was no longer a member of the Mavericks.

If the roles were reversed here, Barnes would be blasted from all angles for not being loyal to the team that gave him a huge contract three years ago. That’s not how it should work, but that’s just the sports world we live in.

LeBron James took to Instagram to comment about the trade.

View this post on Instagram

So let me guess this is cool cause they had to do what was best for the franchise right??? Traded this man while he was literally playing in the game and had ZERO idea. I’m not knocking who traded him because it’s a business and you have to do what you feel what’s best but I just want this narrative to start to get REAL/CHANGE and not when a player wants to be traded or leaves a Franchise that he’s a selfish/ungrateful player but when they trade you, release , waive, cut etc etc it’s best for them! I’m ok with both honestly, truly am. Just call a ♠️ a ♠️!!

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on Feb 6, 2019 at 8:43pm PST

What James said is very valid and he is someone who is all about allowing advocating for players to do what they wish. James has changed teams three times and is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Speaking of LeBron and the Lakers, they were surrounded in all sorts of trade drama last week.

Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans is represented by Rich Paul, the same agent that represents LeBron via Kutch Sports Group. Paul informed the Pelicans that Davis would not re-sign after next season and requested to be traded.

The rumors flew around concerning Davis and the Lakers, as Davis had them at the top of his trade wish list.

However, New Orleans had another agenda.

Los Angeles threw countless trade proposals to New Orleans, each time with the pot thickening and more players and draft picks being added. At one point the Lakers were willing to send young up-and-coming players Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball along with other players and a pair of first round draft picks to New Orleans for Davis. No deal was reached before the 3 P.M. Thursday deadline.

New Orleans was never going to accept a trade offer from the Lakers as they felt that there was tampering going on. They did not want Davis and his representation to dictate where he went, on his terms.

So now the Pelicans can trade him in the offseason (it is highly unlikely that the team receives a better offer than the loaded ones the Lakers sent) or they will have one more year of service and can hope Davis has a change of heart.

The team was going to go as far as shutting down Davis for the remainder of the season to protect their biggest trade asset according to several reports. However, they decided against that and in the first game after the trade deadline passed, Anthony suited up, but was met at first by boos from the home crowd.

Those boos would later turn to cheers as Davis was lighting up the Minnesota Timberwolves for 32 points in 25 minutes. Despite the strong performance, Davis did not play the fourth quarter as head coach Alvin Gentry said Davis reached his “minute threshold” as it was his first game since January 28 with a finger injury.  

Davis is putting MVP-like numbers, but that is not reflecting in wins for the Pelicans, something that contributes to him wanting out. Since being drafted first overall in 2012, Davis has been the centerpiece of that franchise. He is a six-time All Star, and averages 24 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. However, that has only resulted in two trips to the playoffs (one series win), where Anthony averages 30.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.

He feels he has given everything he has to the city of New Orleans and the Pelicans (Hornets when they drafted him), but wants to be able to go compete for championships. He is in the prime of his career and he doesn’t want to waste years by not achieving the ultimate goal of winning a championship.

Players are not just athletes, but are also building brands. The bigger the market, i.e. Los Angeles, the more opportunities there are to grow said brand. Superstars want to team up and go after titles while in their prime and not when their careers are winding down, as has been seen in the past. Regardless of whether it’s a team cutting ties with a player or a player wanting to leave the franchise, it’s all a business at the end of the day.

Not all business moves end with happy endings, no matter which side is wanting to rid themselves of the other. Some will have amicable conclusions, while others will be messy and drug out, like the mess the Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in with Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. That’s just the way it is.

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I am a 2013 graduate of Clarion University with a bachelor's degree in communications and a concentration in journalism. I aspire to be great. I love sports and professional wrestling. Follow me on Twitter @KIngEdward15 and engage in sports talk with me.

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