The total disregard by the NBA and its players can’t continue. Fans simply must push back.
When a fan buys a ticket to go to a game, there’s always a chance a player might not play that game because of an injury or an emergency.
That, we can live with.
But for a star player or two or three not to play just because is wrong. Worse, it borders on fraud.
Enter Wednesday night. The non-caring Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t bring LeBron James or Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving to Memphis to play the Grizzlies. Basically, they gave the fans there a giant middle finger.
Of course, the Cavs lost, 93-85. But the biggest losers were fans.
It wasn’t as if the Cavs’ star players just so happened to be all injured at the same time.
They didn’t play just because.
They got a rest day. In December? Really.
It had to feel like a pimp slap for the working stiffs who put their money together to have a special night out, go to an NBA game and get an up close and personal look at the best player in the league.
For some fans in Memphis, getting to see LeBron play in person was a Christmas gift. Some fans splurged and spent $300 for tickets in the lower bowl. For some, that represents their weekly take-home pay.
Instead, they got a lousy win by the home team over Cavs’ benchwarmers. This is wrong.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has to stop this – fine organizations so much loot that this won’t happen at all.
At least one NBA coach has a heart and is willing to admit that the practice is foul, fraudulent.
“My thought on holding people out en masse, I’m not really for it,” said Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni to the media the other night. “You think of the kid that travels three hours to see somebody and they don’t show up. It’s tough. So it’s complicated.
“I know every coach is trying to do best for his team and trying to win. He has to do what he thinks is right to win, the league may have to look at it and figure it out.”
A few years ago, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich rested his Big three stars and his star fifth man in a big game on the road against the Miami Heat.
Then-commissioner David Stern fined the team $250,000. Even that’s not enough, a drop in the bucket for cash-rich NBA teams.
Plus, it does nothing for the fans who were burnt and left holding the bag.
Fans should put pressure on Silver and demand he stops this practice that kills the fans trust in the league.
And don’t say it was always like this because it wasn’t. Players wanted to play and never asked for rest. Not even the greatest players.
Michael Jordan, arguably the best NBA player of all-time, never cheated the fans. He played in all 82 games in nine of his 13 seasons. Even in his final NBA season in 2002-’03, at age 39, MJ played in all 82 games. In fact, the fewest games he ever played in a non-injury season was 78.
This new trend is simply another way of babying players and giving them a game-check for not working. I’m sure players would balk if they didn’t get paid for games they simply rested.
Attorney generals in all NBA cities should be put on alert and allow fans to seek refunds. The way things are right now, it’s just not fair.
Even at the movies, you can get a refund if you walk out after the first 10-15 minutes.
NBA fans have to do something, make the players and league pay for its disrespect for fans and their money.
Fans would send a great message if they didn’t show up for the All-Star Game. Tell players they are taking a rest from the grind of being bilked out of cash and not being delivered the goods.
Can you imagine rest days in the NFL, sitting star players? It would never happen. In MLB, where players have 162 games, managers often have to force a player to take a game off. And even on those days, they still might wind up pinch-hitting late in the game.
NBA’s rest days for players simply stink. Fans have to force the end of them.