NBA fans are an odd bunch.
In 2007 Danny Ainge pulled off a blockbuster trade that brought two all-time great players to the Boston Celtics to join with already all-time great, Paul Pierce. Later that same year, Mitch Kupchak managed to steal away Pau Gasol for a ’78 Monte Carlo with a trunk full of Doritos. Both moves were celebrated, despite the fact that they heavily rebalanced the talent scale in the NBA in favor of the Lakers and Celtics. Because the GM’s made these moves, they were widely celebrated as shrewd, resourceful, and “the right way.”
Flash forward three years later, LeBron James does the same thing in Miami, and he is made out to be a villain for leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers – a franchise and team we now know to be one of the worst all time WITHOUT LeBron (and don’t give me any junk about injuries, the Bron Cavs were just as injured, just as often. Look it up.). The vitriol still continues to be heaped on LeBron by analysts, commentators, and white fans (you can look that up, too, if you don’t like the way it sounds), despite the fact that he has done nothing that Ainge and Kupchak have not done. Bear in mind also, that Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh don’t get any of the same hate LeBron does – despite being just as complicit in the rebalancing of power. Maybe it’s all about The Decision, but personally I don’t think that putting your ego on display is worse than raping a girl, or being charged with murder. Kobe Bryant, Ray Lewis, and Ben Rothlisberger may disagree.
Flash forward a few more months and we have Carmelo Anthony holding his team, and any other team unfortunate enough to be lumped into the Carmelo trade rumors hostage. Anthony has consistently held his contract option in his raised hand like a grenade with the pin pulled out. The Nuggets, says Melo, must trade him to the Knicks or he will not sign an extension with them, or any other team he is traded to. He made this strategy public to shoo away franchises like the Nets, who had the good to replenish the Nuggets on a trade. Even Nets owner Michael Prokhorov decided that Melo was not worth the drama, between laps in his cash filled swimming pool. The Knicks do not have nearly as much to offer as the Nets did. In essence, Carmelo handcuffed his franchise – get a lesser deal from the Knicks, or lose Melo in free agency. Melo only wants to be traded to a team that gives him a legit chance at being a champion. Enter the Lakers, in a scenario that most likely will not come to pass.
Say what you want about LeBron leaving Cleveland, but in his last season he led them to the best record in the East. He took them into the second round of the playoffs, losing to the eventual Eastern Conference Champs. And THEN he left. Melo, meanwhile, has essentially ruined this entire season for the Nuggets. He has kept the fans, the organization, and his teammates guessing about his level of commitment. They’re left wondering what kind of team they will have after the trade deadline, and if a holding on to their tenuous playoff spot is possible. Yet, poll after poll shows that fans rank what LeBron has done as being worse than what Carmelo is currently doing.