Fans in Cleveland, Orlando, New Orleans and the like are mad at the idea that even in the new CBA superstars can just up and move if they want to. Fans pour in all that money and love, for all those years, and poof, just like that. The title hopes, the fun, the dreams ... gone.
Fans in those cities are also mad at me, because I have written, essentially, tough.
I mean, I know that hurts. I respect that. Nobody likes to lose a star player and, with him, title dreams. (As a Blazer fan, I didn't lose title dreams to free agency, but I did lose title dreams to knee agency.) I am not arguing against various incentives the NBA has put in place to encourage stars to stay put, even if I question how effective they'll be. They're a nod to fans, who are in many ways fans as invested as anybody.
But having a lot at stake is not the same as deserving a say. Anyone planning an outdoor wedding cares mightily about the weather. If only that were the same as letting bridezilla reach into the sky and set the controls to "sunny with a light breeze." Just not one of those things you get to do -- no matter how much you hate rain.
Similarly, you know no idea how much happier I'd be if Brandon Roy and Greg Oden were both, as planned, heading into their healthy primes right now. Not so, and there's nothing I can do about it.
In deciding where Chris Paul ought to live after his contract is up in New Orleans, there is a list of people who need to weigh in. The list is: 1) Chris Paul and 2) his family. There is no number 3.
That's the freedom Paul has earned not by being an NBA player, nor by being a superstar. That's the freedom he has earned by being an adult in the free world. The desires of sports fans aren't nearly compelling enough to take that from him. In fact, to me it's a tad ugly that people feel they deserve that say. It blatantly fails the test of the golden rule -- who among us is OK having strangers tell us where to live?
In hashing this out by e-mail with TrueHoop reader and blogger Michael, I came up with a super bizarre and intentionally overly dramatic analogy to titillate, or illustrate, the point.
Imagine that some night in the cafeteria of some college dorm, a female student stands on a table and does a strip tease. And let's say the crowds go wild. And so pretend she does it again the next night, and the next, for months. (If you're having a hard time picturing this, try watching more Todd Phillips movies.) The crowds get bigger and bigger. Maybe people even give her money.
Then, let's pretend, one day she stops. Just does not want to do it anymore. That night, she just gets in line with everybody else to get her tray of salad, mashed potatoes and knock-off Froot Loops -- all of which she wants eat in peace.
We all know that crowd would boo her. They might even curse, spit, or paw at her. They would be livid with her for not taking off her clothes. Their feeling would be that she owed them something, they had some right, based on their past relationship, to see her perform.
But let's not get this twisted. They have no right whatsoever to see her nude. Zero. Why? 'Cause that's her body, and that is her basic human right to do with it as she pleases. The crowd be damned. Her past actions may have deluded them into feeling otherwise, but the truth is the truth. She has not one shred of obligation to do anything for those people.
They may be crestfallen. Those feelings may be real. Even if they traveled hundreds of miles just to see the show they have not been victimized. She need not have consulted them.
They have wants that are unfulfilled. But filling them would have meant taking off your clothes, against your will, in public. That's beyond indecent. There is no need, in this case, to balance the needs of the fans with the needs of the star. The fans simply have no rights here.
It's not a perfect analogy. But the point is that fans of Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams and the like ... Those fans want those stars to live their entire careers in one city. They may even feel they need it. But those fans' wishes will sometimes run up against the basic rights of the players to live where they want. And the basic human rights trump all in any country where I want to live. There is no decent way to keep someone hostage.
The young woman in my analogy has a perfect right to keep her clothes on, just as free adult Americans have real fundamental rights to move to different cities. That may hassle their fans, or even hurt them. But it does not wrong them.