Links: NBA Players And Lessons Learned

by Lang Whitaker

I was on a flight late last night back home to NYC, and I was thinking about how crazy the last few weeks have been in the sports world: Erin Andrews, ESPN’s twitter policy, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, Donte Stallworth, Josh Hamilton, Ben Roethlisberger, Rick Pitino…

It’s been a busy few weeks, and it’s actually been almost a perfect storm for sports blogs and websites. Hey, could someone write a post about Erin Andrews having her privacy invaded? That would be interesting to read! I would love to hear how this is either her fault, or the internet’s fault, or Deadspin’s fault, or…whatever.

(Truth: Years ago, Erin Andrews used to do little highlight cut-ins on TBS during Braves games. This was generally humorous because then-Braves announcer Skip Caray (RIP) very obviously hated having to go to Andrews and away from the Braves games. One day Skip acerbically threw it to Andrews, and she was narrating a Tigers highlight. She mentioned “former Brave Randall Simon at the plate,” and I looked up and instead saw this guy, Robert Fick, up at bat. And maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think Fick looks much like Randall Simon.)

Anyway, one thing worth noting in this summer of craziness?

The NBA has mostly slipped the traps. For so long people said the NBA was a league of thugs, a bunch of guys unable to control themselves. But now it’s not the NBA making news for the wrong reasons. The minor NBA controversies that have erupted are of the social nature (Brandon Jennings and Steph being too public on the ‘net, someone deciding that because JR Smith can’t spell he must be in a gang).

I guess Rashard Lewis testing positive for a banned stimulant is troublesome, but then, it was a guy who weighs about 200 pounds soaking wet. If he was on steroids, they were the worst steroids ever concocted.

At the same time, I don’t have much sympathy for him. Pro athletes are paid money that most of us can only dream of making, and in exchange they’re asked to play by certain rules. One of these rules is that you are not allowed to take certain substances. They may be harmless, they may be harmful, but either way, you’re getting paid millions of dollars! In exchange, you have to live by the rules that have been set for you.

Whenever I hear athletes whine about how they don’t have any freedom or they can’t go out at night or whatever, I feel very little sympathy for them. You don’t want to abide by the rules of the NBA? Actually, you don’t have to! You are free to get any other job where the rules are much less strict, where you can smoke and toke and drink to your heart’s content. Maybe you can’t make as much cash as you can in the NBA, but hey…nobody said life is fair.

And let’s not forget Reggie Miller, who inspired perhaps the greatest airplane flyover of all time. Reggie’s transgression appears to be that he hollered at a woman with a fiancé who checks her texts. More than anything, Reggie caused embarrassment for himself and TNT. Hey, TNT knows drama!

Meanwhile, I’ve done my best to stay out of all this Starbury stuff. Steph turned on a computer, acted the exact same way he’s been acting since I first met him a decade ago, and suddenly it’s a cry for help! He’s crazy! He needs assistance! I saw a TV show on ESPN the other day where a panel of “experts” was discussing Steph, and they all had answers and remedies for his “crazy” behavior.

I’m tired of all the hard-hitting analysis from people who’ve never spent any real time with Steph. Steph didn’t go on Ustream to give bloggers and writers a chance to set up a shrink stand like Lucy in “Peanuts.” Steph went on Ustream to get people to talk about him, and it’s worked brilliantly. Does it really matter what they say about him anymore? This is a guy who’s had more negative press over the last eight years than George W. Bush. Do you think it bothers him when someone else writes something negative about him? At this point it’s more about exposure — any press is good press.

The one thing I would like to point out is, however unlikely this seems, I believe there is a method to Steph’s madness. One evening on Twitter, Steph announced that he was going to give out his phone number and allow people to call him. Immediately, people on Twitter started saying it was insane to give out his number, that someone needed to stop him, etc.

Then he actually did give out this number, and another outcry erupted.

Only thing is, it wasn’t his number. At least, it wasn’t the number he’s used to call me and the number he’s answered when I’ve called him over the last 12 months. I actually have two numbers for Steph in my phone, and the number he gave out wasn’t either of them. He gave out a hotline number,some digits that weren’t as real as everyone immediately assumed they would be.

If Steph is crying out for anything, it’s relevance. Attention? Y’all already gave him what he wanted. And I’m sure he’s grateful. After all, love is love.

Anyway, I think it’s worth noting that the NBA has had a summer relatively free of big issues, especially between their players and the law. The NBA took its lumps the last few years. Maybe the players actually learned their lesson?

• I’ve mostly left the L-Wolves alone, but there’s one thing worth mentioning. Last week there was an interview with Wolves GM David Kahn, and he said…

“We probably need maybe one more wing. I’m debating. A lot depends too on what we decide to do with Quentin Richardson, who is on the roster. There’s one scenario where we could move him, but another scenario is he could be on the team.”

So they could trade Q-Rich again? Again? I hope this happens.

Some random links…

• I know some people think Wal-Mart is a corporate behemoth that runs the little guy out of business, but I’m all for this. The Girl Scouts have held the monopoly too long, making people fiend for their Tagalongs and Thin Mint by withholding them from us. No longer!

• A burglar gives advice on where to hide your money.

• I’m making one of these. Watch your back, Tzvi.

• Finally, I thought this was great. Inspirational even…