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SBD/Issue 73/Leagues & Governing Bodies
LeBron James Seeks To Clarify Comments About NBA Contraction
Published December 28, 2010
|James Claims He Didn't Know
Meaning Of The Word "Contraction"
Heat F LeBron James yesterday said that he "never intended to advocate contraction in recent comments he made about the league's 'watered down' talent level compared to the 1980s," according to Michael Wallace of ESPN.com. James said, "That's crazy, because I had no idea what the word 'contraction' meant before I saw it on the Internet. I never even mentioned that. That word never even came out of my mouth. I was just saying how the league was back in the '80s and how it could be good again. I never said, 'Let's take some of the teams out.'" He added, "I'm with the players, and the players know that. I've been with the players. It's not about getting guys out of the league or knocking teams out. I didn't mean to upset nobody. ... I didn't say let's abandon the Nets, and not let them move to Brooklyn or let's tear down the Target Center in Minnesota. I never said that" (ESPN.com, 12/27). In West Palm Beach, Ethan Skolnick confirms James never used the word contraction in his remarks, but it "definitely came out of the mouths of a couple of the reporters who were around him Thursday, as he continued answering the questions" (PALM BEACH POST, 12/28).
TOO LITTLE TALENT? James last Thursday asserted that the NBA "was better when numerous teams had multiple stars," adding that he "hopes the league can return to that someday, because right now there isn't enough talent to support the 30 current teams." James said, "Hopefully the league can figure out one way where it can go back to the '80s where you had three or four All-Stars, three or four superstars, three or four Hall of Famers on the same team. The league was great. It wasn't as watered down as it is (now)." He added, "(Contraction) is not my job; I'm a player but that is why it, the league, was so great. Imagine if you could take Kevin Love off Minnesota and add him to another team and you shrink the (league). Looking at some of the teams that aren't that great, you take Brook Lopez or you take Devin Harris off these teams that aren't that good right now and you add him to a team that could be really good. Not saying let's take New Jersey and let's take Minnesota out of the league. But hey, you guys are not stupid, I'm not stupid, it would be great for the league" (ESPN.com, 12/24).
|Fisher Acknowledges That Not All NBA
Players Are Always Going To Agree
DON'T HATE THE PLAYERS: Lakers G and NBPA President Derek Fisher responded to James' original comments last week and said, "I don't necessarily agree with (James' comments), but at the same time I understand and respect the fact (that) 460 opinions won't always be alike. I don't think it's my place to tell one of our guys what they should be thinking or feeling or saying, but I don't necessarily agree with the sentiment." With the NBPA involved in CBA negotiations with the NBA, Fisher added, "I don't know if it necessarily hurts our cause. It's surprising I would say, I guess, maybe to a lot of people but I guess I'm just a realist in that regard" (ESPNLA.com, 12/24). Pistons G Ben Gordon said, "I don't know if it would help or make things better, but I know a lot of guys probably wouldn't like being out of a job" (DETROIT NEWS, 12/27). In N.Y., Peter Vecsey writes under the header, "LeBron Contraction Talk Is Selfish, Misguided." James' comments reveal that he "genuinely cares about himself." Vecsey: "The NBA is his world. Everyone else is just renting" (N.Y. POST, 12/28).
A SHORT-SIGHTED OUTLOOK: YAHOO SPORTS' Adrian Wojnarowski wrote James' original comments "left the sport stunned on Christmas Eve, searching for an understanding of why he would go so far to undermine the union on the cusp of an apocalyptic collective bargaining brawl." One agent said, "How do you say that right before collective bargaining? Does he get that he’s advocating to reduce the number of jobs in the league? LeBron has no idea what happens when he says (stuff) like this." Wojnarowski: "The NBA has never had a superstar align himself with the interests of the commissioner and owners on the cusp of such a monumental fight, but understand this: It’s an edgy move that will win him favor in the league office" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/24). CBSSPORTS.com's Ray Ratto wrote under the header, "What LeBron's Forgetting: If Teams Leave, So Do Men With Money." James' theory, which he "delivered off the cuff and without the proper research and development, just took out" Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov. Ratto: "You know how many billionaires you get to take out and keep your job? The over-under is minus one-half" (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/24).
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME: The N.Y. POST's Vecsey reports James and his reps have "contrived something" called the "Full Court Birthday Celebration" for James' 26th on Thursday. It is a "non-charitable event, but kids from The Boys and Girls Club of America are free to roll in if accompanied by a high roller." An invitation advertises the presence of "athletes, models, musicians, as well as political figures, socialites, taste-makers and affluent leaders from various industries including art, business and finance." James and his reps for the Miami party also are offering sponsorship opportunities, ranging from $10,000-500,000 (N.Y. POST, 12/28).