Bryant Gumbel did what he set out to do — he got people talking about labor relations in the NBA. People are talking about David Stern and how the owners treat the players.
Although, many people are just focusing on Gumbel’s “plantation overseer” comment more than the substance of his thoughts. (Henry Abbott did a great breakdown at TrueHoop.) And with that has come backlash on Gumbel.
That includes Charles Barkley, speaking on the Dan Patrick Show (via CSNChicago.com).
For those who would like to read the comments and not listen to Barkley’s voice, here you go:
“I thought (Gumbel’s comments) were stupid. First of all it’s disrespectful to black people that went through slavery while guys are averaging five million dollars a year, that’s just disrespectful. When David Stern took over, I went and did my research because I knew people would make a big deal out of it, when Davis Stern took over the NBA in 1984 which was my first year the average salary was 315,000 dollars. That was the average salary. The average salary now is 5.15 million dollars. When has he been holding people back from making money? Secondly David Stern works for the owners and his job is to make sure the owners have a fair deal. I like Bryant and I like that show a lot but the commissioner works for the owners. He’s just trying to get a fair deal for the owners. It’s disrespectful to black people. I don’t think slaves are making 5.1 million dollars a year.”
Clearly, NBA players are not slaves (they can leave their jobs, for one). That said, more than one NBA player has used similar imagery when speaking to me off the record about the lockout — guys see themselves as working for rich guys and now those owners are trying to take more than their fair share. Yes, the financial sums are pretty crazy, but when people feel a deal is unfair they won’t support it. That is a lot of what has gone on here.
In the NBA, elite players have the leverage. It is just simple supply and demand.
DeMarcus Cousins is an elite player — and a favorite of owner Vivek Ranadive. He is not going anywhere.
Which made this summer’s “George Karl wants trade Cousins” a battle the coach couldn’t ultimately win — the owner wasn’t going to sign off on it, and the fans are going to side with Boogie. Remember Karl said he never had a player that was untradable, and that spiraled into reports Karl probed trade options with other teams, much to the frustration of management and Cousins himself.
Karl owned up to some of his mistakes in an interview on Comcast Bay Area, as reported by James Ham at CSNBayArea.com.
“To be honest with you, I apologized to DeMarcus for making the trade comment that I’ve never coached a player that’s untradeable,” Karl told Christensen. “That was wrong for me to say, because you all (the media) took it and blew it up into crazy.”
“But it’s my responsibility to be smart enough to not say things like that,” Karl continued. “So I did apologize because I thought that was the only thing, maybe some other things, but really the only thing that got us separated was that comment that then everybody wrote the we’re going to trade [Cousins].”
The relationship between Cousins and Karl — not to mention Rajon Rondo and other veterans — is the biggest key to the Kings’ season. Karl and Cousins say their relationship is solid now, but what happens when that is put under stress at some point during the season?
In talking to people around the team, the Kings players seemed to have formed a tight bond — even if part of the glue of that bond is a distrust of Karl that can work for them. This is a team that has the talent to compete for the bottom couple playoff seeds in the Western Conference, but everybody needs to be pulling on the rope in the same direction. We will see pretty quickly if the Kings can do that.
I’m a fan of the Pistons’ alternate uniforms in general — their “Motor City” ones may be may favorite alternates around the league.
Now they have a new one — Detroit Chrome.
The Pistons will break these out for seven home games this season. From the official release:
The inspiration for the Detroit Chrome jerseys came about as a way to honor our coolest cars from the past and the cars of the future. Detroit is universally known as the auto capital of the world, where chrome leaves an indelible mark on the cars we create. The uniforms feature a matte chrome base color with clean simple lines inspired by the classic muscle cars that have roared up and down Woodward Avenue for decades. The navy trim and Detroit emblazoned across the chest represent the blue collar work ethic that the auto industry and region was built on.
Clean, simple, cool — I like it.
That would look good in the first round of the playoffs, too. (I’m predicting they get the eight seed.)