Duck! and Gather

You Go Baron!

Posted on: July 2, 2008

WARNING: This post has pretty much nothing to do with Duck and Gather. Well, except maybe there’s a tangential correlation between how big corporations see us humans as inanimate, fungible, objects. But, OK, that’s a reach.

Anyway, over the last two days, an NBA basketball player named Baron Davis switched teams — going from Oakland (Warriors) to Los Angeles (Clippers). It was Davis’ choice to make that move. He was scheduled to be paid something like $18 million next year by the Warriors. But he chose to walk away from that, and instead signed with the Clippers for $65 million over 5 years.

Oakland fans seem quite upset about this “treason”. However, they seem incapable of understanding the world through anything but their own eyes. From Davis’ perspective, he played in all 82 games of the regular season last year for the Warriors. He played more minutes last year than all but five players in the league. The team has basically no backup for his position (point guard). So he couldn’t be taken off the floor.

Further, those huge minutes Davis played were very high energy minutes. The Warriors play “small ball” which involves using shorter, athletic players who play with much more energy than do conventional teams. In the playoffs, during certain stretches of certain games, many teams “go small” when they need to turn up the energy of the game and cause some short-term effect. But nobody plays “small” the whole game, nor even a little bit every game. And certainly nobody at all plays that way all the time during the regular season.

Except for the Warriors. And this summer, the Warriors made no effort through the draft or through trades to bring Davis some backup support so that his minutes could go down.

So here is what Davis was looking at for next year: (a) $18 million in the last year of his contract; (b) at least as many high-energy minutes played as last year; and (c) failing to make the playoffs again. With that ahead of him, odds were high he would suffer some significant injury signaling the demise of his playing career.

So basically, Davis was working for a corporation that was doing what it could to burn through his remaining human energy in one final year. At the age of 30, he would be more or less done with hoops.

Instead, David is no dummy. He could see that. So he signed for less per year to go to an L.A. team that tries to plays more conventionally — i.e. using taller, bigger guys, who rebound and play defense. With Davis — and if the Clippers re-sign its big man star (Elton Brand), and if backup point guard Shawn Livingston is able to spell Davis some minutes — the Clippers will have a much better next year than would the Warriors had Davis stayed. Plus, Davis is a budding Hollywood producer, making L.A. the perfect place for him to play.

Reading what I just wrote, doesn’t it seem obvious to you that Davis was planning this move all along, at least as this current season wound down? The Warriors would not negotiate a contract extension for Davis beyond next year. And they were burning him out. Like duh.

Yet, almost all of the sports media, the sporting public, and the Warrior management, expresses surprise at Davis’ move.

Are they just dumb? Yeah, I suppose that appraisal is fair. But I think there is more to it here. I think we people have become accustomed to inhumane treatment of ourselves in our corporate-run world. For example, in your typical hospital, you are nothing but a slab of meat being wheeled from one department to another depending on which body part is failing you. No insurance? Then you don’t even get the privilege of being treated like a slab of meat. Instead, you get to feel like a piece of trash in the waste bin.

With this being our day-to-day world, I suppose it might explain why sports fans watching a guy choose $13 million/year long-term (5 years) in the city of his future career (movies), over $18 million short term (1 year) for a stupid team, might feel “surprise” or “betrayal”.

Oh well, when all these diversions like Hollywood and the NBA are washed away in the coming crises, and all of us have tasted the bitter fruit of these coming dark days, maybe then we’ll all wake up as one and remember our own humanity and that of others.

for the money has gone too far

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