NBA has a loyalty problem

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Lebron James takes the ball down the court.

Michael Harms, Courier Staff

As NBA trade season reaches its most chaotic week, we’re reminded of some of the trades that changed the history of the NBA forever.

Snake, traitor, cold, faker. These are the words uttered to LeBron James as he made his infamous decision to join the Miami Heat in 2010. These were also the words uttered to Kevin Durant who decided to leave Oklahoma City and join the dream team, the Golden State Warriors. Thank you and good luck are the words uttered to Isaiah Thomas, and Blake Griffin, as their front office traded them to a different organization after no such problems existed.

The general managers of those organizations believed that making those trades would allow them to have the most successful teams in the future. However, why don’t these general managers receive feedback when they trade a player that is so beloved, even in times when they promised the player they would try and keep him for his entire career?

This is employment for a general manager, not a game. A general manager’s job is to make the team successful, and provide a salary income to their players. Their priority is not to make these players feel safe or happy in their environment. The employers of these players evaluate their performance, and decide who should stay on the team and who should be traded.

Griffin had a large and extensive contract that the Clippers traded for future cap space and draft picks. Their plan is now clear to go through the draft and fight for the impressive free agents over the summer. Detroit clearly wanted to sell more tickets, so they got a player that can bring in more wins, monstrous slam dunks, and highlight plays night in and night out.

These players might as well just be a peg in the machine for the general managers and owners, but James thinks that they owe these players some loyalty. The Clippers signed Griffin to a five-year, $73 million contract. Although he did not make the All-Star team this season he is still making more than some of those players who were selected to the team.

Owners and general managers run a business, and NBA players know and understand that they have to perform well to continue having a job. Even the Philadelphia 76ers’, Joel Embiid’s contract has strings attached if he gets a major injury. He cannot get injured to get the full amount in his contract, and yet LeBron still seems confused as to why these businessmen will trade a player without skipping a beat.

All of this talk about loyalty and the criticism of general managers wouldn’t be too much of an issue if LeBron didn’t say that he would be willing to go to the Warriors if they could offer him a max deal. On Tuesday, James said that he would be willing to hear an offer from Golden State if he could get a max deal and that is not okay. Imagine making an alliance with your enemy, do you expect your friends to be understanding of that? Of course not, they don’t understand it and they would be mortified.

The King might take his talents to the Bay, and showcase just why a snake is the correct comparison to someone who disrespects his fans that helped make  the big star that he is today.