The problem with a lack of games is that all we are left with to dissect is the rhetoric.
So we parse Bryant Gumbel’s “plantation overseer” comment on David Stern, even though, with the exception of those with premium cable, the last time we even noticed Bryant Gumbel was during his attempt at NFL Network play by play.
Similarly, ESPN’s Bill Simmons raises the notion of “limited intellectual capital” amid the lockout negotiations, and suddenly the philosophical debate transcends basketball-related income.
This is where we’re at amid the lockout, without games being played, balls being bounced, stats being crunched.
Which brings us to union chief Billy Hunter and one of his comments during Simmons’ most-recent “B.S. Report” podcast.
On the surface, it was seemingly an innocuous attempt by Hunter to portray his clients’ transitory celebrity:
“Most of our players, when they end playing basketball, they’re going to be living for another 40 years or so. And I don’t know how long that money’s going to last, even if they’ve made every prudent investment they can possibly make, at what level they’re going to be able to live.”
A reasoned argument.
Except . . .
Why do we have to assume that once a basketball player is finished playing pro basketball he has no other intellectual or physical capabilities to continue to earn a living?
Is that not insulting?
Hunter’s comment hardly was unique. Often in locker rooms you will hear players talking about how they have to get what they can in free agency, because this could be the last contract of their careers.
Not their playing careers. Their entire earning careers. And they’re saying this at 30, sometimes younger.
Mind you, the NBA, in conjunction with the union, offers an array of post-NBA career-training options. The union, in fact, features the NBA’s SportscasterU broadcast initiative for players on its website.
If concerns about post-playing earnings are, indeed, an issue, then that is all the more reason for the union and the league to try to get players to stay in college longer before entering the NBA, to open players’ eyes to post-NBA opportunities.
What can NBA players be after their NBA careers?
Doctors. Lawyers. Stock brokers. Accountants. Entrepreneurs. There are worse places to start a second career than with fame and a healthy bank account.
“Limited intellectual capital” offended many, even if the context was somewhat twisted.
But to say NBA players have no earning potential beyond their NBA careers? That seems to go to the same place.