Professional athletes are increasingly gaining the ability to say for who and where they want to play.
By Vicente Vitela, Staff Writer
As more pro athletes are able to dictate where, and who they want to play with, the sport is beginning to see a shift in the balance of power between ownership and its players.
This past summer, there were two instances were players used their power and control to get what they wanted. The first being Anthony Davis, formerly of the New Orleans Pelicans. After rumors of his trade request became public Davis was quick to let everyone know that these were not rumors but in fact true, even going as far as telling ownership that he will not sign an extension next offseason and would like to be traded as soon as possible.
“Don’t know how long I’m gonna play this game,” said Davis. “People’s careers are short. I feel like it’s my time to move on.”
To prove how much control he had over the situation he told ownership that he would “prefer” to be traded to only a handful of teams that Davis himself would approve. The following off-season Davis would see his request fulfilled and receive a trade to one of his desired teams, the Los Angeles Lakers. Davis is currently in talks with the Lakers on a possible long term contract, and the team is one of the favorites to win the NBA championship.
This particular off-season didn’t just have the Davis Saga to deal with it there was also the Khawi Leonard/ Paul George situation. After single-handedly leading the Raptors to their first championship in franchise history, over the powerhouse Warriors, Leonard would become one of the most sought after free agents. His asking price and desire to play with another big time NBA superstar complicated things for many teams who had him on their signing list.
There were three teams in the running for this finals MVP; the Lakers, a historic franchise with two big time stars and the Raptors who were starless but however with Leonard were able to bring the city of Toronto its first NBA title. Last but not least the Clippers who had no big stars but a large bank account. Ultimately it came down to the Lakers, and Clippers with Leonard telling the Clippers if they get George he will sign with the team. After hearing this less than 24 hours later, George was a Clipper and within 36 hours of that news, word got out that Leonard had told other teams of his intentions to sign with the Clippers.
“We actually had a list of guys, which was a mistake, but we got lucky. We shouldn’t have had a list, because then he got to choose who he wanted to play with,” said Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers according to msn.com. “We just showed him guys that we thought would match him and when he saw Paul George’s name he said, ‘I want to play with him.”
This much like Davis, and Brown was another example of a player telling the ownership what to do in order to meet his needs. When free agency and trades first became available for pro sports it was clear who was dictating which player would join their team and it was their way or the highway, and that ball was firmly in the court of the owners. With these recent payer outbursts one can only wonder has the ball shifted in the hands of the players, and was this a one-time thing, or was it a sign of things to come, we will just have to wait and see.