The NBA really stepped up both its charitable efforts and the public relations machine promoting those efforts after the “malice at the Palace” brawl back in 2004. The league had serious image issues with many thinking that all NBA players were thugs ready to punch fans. Things like NBA Cares are designed to counter that image.
The league is taking another PR hit right now for this ridiculous lockout. When it ends, community involvement from players will be part of the image rehabilitation effort.
Except the players may want no part of that, reports David Aldridge at NBA.com.
There is incredible anger among players just under the surface. Anger at having to give up hundreds of millions of dollars, of course, but also anger stemming from their feeling that they aren’t being treated as partners by the owners, but as employees… But that anger, no matter what side of the divide you are on, is real, and it threatens to do great damage to the league well after the lockout is over. I cannot tell you how furious players are that this lockout continues….
Over and over in the last two weeks, I have heard the same refrain from players and agents, from big markets and small ones, max guys and minimum salaried guys. You can forget asking about community service work. You can forget asking for cooperation for NBA Cares. Basketball Without Borders? Don’t even ask…
And one agent intimated that players who would normally try to gut their way through injuries and assorted other hurts now will wait until they’re 100 percent before returning to the court. Why should they jeopardize their careers, the agent asked, when the owners obviously care nothing about them?
Most players have a certain number of team appearances written into their contract (the have to do a preset number of charity events a year with the team). Many players have gone will above and beyond that trying to help the team, league and the community.
But if the players feel like 9-5 employees, they are going to start punching the clock like them. Once they are out the door they will stop caring about the team and league.
Just another ugly spinoff from this lockout.