Before we get to the main topic. Amir Johnson re-signed and seems very happy to be back in Toronto. It doesn't hurt to have the 34 millions bucks as well. Raptors have signed Linas Kleiza to an offer sheet, 4 years and 20 million is the numbers being thrown around. My reaction to this, is not a move that gets me excited. Kleiza wasn't even playing in the NBA last year. He, like Delfino did the year before, bolted for more money outside of North America. Also, the Raptors may in fact may end up with some spare parts from the Bosh deal (Draft picks possible TPE[Trade Exception]). The good news is Micheal Beasley will not be, as he was shipped off to Minnesota. Which likely speaks to his lack of value in the league as whole.
But the fate of the Raptors aside for the moment, it sure feels like the NBA changed last night. A lot of folks comparisons to the wrestling's NWO have a lot of merit. Pat Riley is the Eric Bischoff of the group. Just like the NWO was in reality just part of the WCW. The Miami Heat are part of the NBA. The NWO in the storyline of wrestling goal was to take over and destroy the WCW. While the Miami's goal is not to destroy the NBA, it is to win a championship. However, even if not intended they will do damage to the NBA. That damage begins in Cleveland but will only grow from there. Safe to say Miami will be the most hated team in the NBA. However the people that will hate team the most are the owners of small market teams. Dan Gilbert's statement to Cleveland fans was an example of the raw anger that will build up. He will be leading the charge to a lockout seeing the loop holes in the CBA as the reason for his misfortune along with blaming James. The reality is that Cavs failed to build a winner around James, just like the Raptors failed to do the same around CB4. No one put a gun to any teams head and said to create cap space for 2010 season. To create this situation for both to leave. Cavs and Raptors saw what was going on around them.
The Villains of the 2011 Lockout will be the Miami Heat and Pat Riley. But as much as we all may be sickened by what has happened here. You have to at least on some level admire the 3 players and Riley for being able to pull this off. This was the right of all 3 players to do this. Free means free after all. While you can sure question the morals and ego that lead to all of this, you can't question that they played with in the rules.
The idea of a cap system in sports in to create a level playing field for all. This has not happened and it is a failure of the CBA to do so. In baseball their is no cap and nothing in place to prevent this from happening in that league. Sports is all about having hope. The obvious example of no hope is here in Toronto with the Blue Jays. They play in the AL East and their chances of making the playoffs are remote at best ever year. The Yankees and Red Sox have budgets that are beyond imagination. It took a decade of losing for Tampa Bay to get to the point of challenging those 2 teams. While it is possible to beat the odds the chances are slim. Miami Heat are not going 82-0 as someone tweeted to me. But the hope for teams that are in markets that have challenges and teams who are limited in terms of budget all wake up to the reality of this could be them. How do you feel about Brandon Jennings future today if you are a Bucks fan? Is this your team in say 6 years? Under this current CBA it very well could be.
The impact of the NWO on wrestling was a positive one as WCW became the #1 wrestling company and jumped ahead of the WWE in ratings.The NBA has enjoyed being the king of sports talk in the short term with all this free agency talk. They may meet the same fate as WCW on a lesser scale with a lockout. The NWO while it was a short term success many in the wrestling business see it as what killed WCW. The egos of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are not that different from Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Hulk Hogan. Egos could implode the Heat as well eventually.
David Stern has a CBA that has been designed to give the home teams the advantage of 30 million dollars (In Case of Bosh,James and Wade) and an extra year of a contract. However if as Bosh,Wade and James all have said this isn't about money it is about winning,then we a problem here. That is ultimately the goal to be a champion after all. The problem is with the massive amount of money playesr can make these days it doesn't take long for money to not be an object. So the CBA and it's design to cash in on players greed instead of the desire to win has failed.
How you can eliminate what in a sense has been player conclusion is unclear and likely impossible. What will hurt the Owners argument is all the money they have been throwing around to everyone else. It is hard to cry poor and foul when you are spending money like it is from a Monopoly game.
While Leborn James had an hour T.V show on ESPN that was to say the least at times some pretty bad television. Kevin Durant quietly has signed an extension with that thriving city of OKC. It is nothing like South Beach and K.D is nothing like the 3 guys that are in Miami. So you want a hero maybe he and the OKC Thunder are it. Kobe Bryant for all his drama has remained a Laker which is a little easier to do.
What we have seen is the birth of a team that will have a chance to win many championships. However they may be a ring short of expectations. We also saw the spark to ignite what will be a war over the new CBA and a lockout that looms in 2011/12.
Yes we have all been Witnesses or will be to it all. July 8th will be a day pointed back to for years to come. For basketball fans, it may turn into a moment that is one of those where were you moments. Just like we all remember where were for many historic events. Time will tell but it sure has that feel. Wrestling fans all remember where they were when Hulk Hogan the Immortal hero of wrestling fans for years turned heel. Lebron James made his heel turn not on Pay Per View but on ESPN. In a sense he has sold his soul to win a ring. Part of me admires that. But a larger part of me is sick to the stomach about it and what it could mean for the future.