Overseas Not Problem, Pickup Games Are
NBAers will continue to get into trouble if they keep playing streetball.
The talk this summer has been about who’s going to play overseas. That shouldn’t be the main concern. The concern should be NBA players fighting while playing in these pro-am and street-ball games.
Remember when Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens made that statement on ESPN saying what the outcome would be if the NFL was to lose an entire season: “Watch how much crime picks up if you take away our game,” Lewis said.
Well, the same can be said about the NBA, except it’s not only the fans who are participating in physical confrontations during this lockout—it’s the NBA players as well.
The Minnesota Timberwolves’ Michael Beasley shoved a heckling fan in the face during a street ball game in New York, and was caught doing so on camera. On the same day, on the other side of the country in San Francisco, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Matt Barnes allegedly clocked an opponent in a pro-am game for supposedly elbowing and pushing him.
I’m not saying these heckling fans didn’t deserve what happened to them, as some can definitely get out of control. I’m just simply pointing out that more of these altercations are likely to occur if this lockout resumes for an extended period of time.
The NBA has an abundance of grounded players such as Steve Nash, Derek Fisher, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki who will be fine during this lockout. They’ll train, travel, and adjust to their newfound open schedule.
However, let’s not get it twisted, the NBA just like any other professional league, is also comprised of young, immature, volatile, emotional players who need structure in their lives 365 days out of the year. Unable to workout and have contact with their individual teams, players may be left searching for a good pickup game to stay in shape.
Yes, players do have agents and can train at their sporting complex, but they still have to go home after workouts and they’ll be amongst the public more than usual due to not being on a NBA teams rigorous schedule.
As we are seeing with some, the more accessible these players are to the public, the chances increase of having your faced caved in.
With both sides still miles apart, the inevitable is starting to sink in, we may very well have no NBA season. Which brings me to players playing overseas. It doesn’t seem that bad anymore, does it?
The player gets to be involved in a structured environment, play meaningful games and have the luxury of being secure from the public to a certain extent. Of course there still will be risks involved such as getting injured, but if these agents have their clients best interest at heart— keyword if—the noble thing to do would be to save some players from themselves and send them abroad.
If you think that this is just an issue for the head cases such as Barnes, Beasley, or Ron Artest, excuse me, Metta World Peace, then you’re sadly mistaken. This is a problem for any NBA player who is participating in these pickup games.
Several players come from poverty-stricken backgrounds and still have some form of street mentality embedded in them. In the heat of the moment, competing against amateurs who are disrespecting and derogating athletes in their face, is a bad recipe for something potentially to pop off. Beasley and Barnes are lucky, it could have escalated to firearms.
If you’ve watched the Beasley video, you noticed one of the NBA’s brightest stars, Kevin Durant, was playing as well. The atmosphere was not appropriate for a superstar such as Durant nor any other NBA player.
Again, agents should be proactive instead of reactive. There’s a reason these contests are called pickup games and streetball. No structure is involved, and that’s what young, rich athletes need in their lives.