Disclaimer #1: I know this was somewhat discussed DJ Fuzzylogic's Yi post: The Global Economic Logic to Yi's NBA Destination, but I wanted to focus on how the Bucks have seemingly seized the moral high ground in this debate. By that reasoning I don't think it's a "repost" of the same topic, rather a focused discussion of one facet of a larger issue. Also, way way too long for a comment.
Anyhow . . .
"They did the right thing," Williams added. "If he was really the guy they wanted, they should be applauded. They went with their gut and said, 'He's the guy and we'll teach him to like German food and bratwurst and 10-degree weather in January.' Yes, I would definitely respect them for what they did."
It's interesting how the Bucks are being praised for trying to "preserve the integrity of the system". This is the same system that a lot of people criticize for preventing poor, urban 18-year-olds from going into the NBA. Which, and I'm the first one to agree that everything in America has an element of racism involved (hooray for blanket statements that will distract from the main point of the post), is primarily about not paying for a population of players that will sit on the bench for a year. Instead they get to, as a group and with no competitive advantage to any team, pay for a more polished product that is more likely to produce sooner yet remain under team contractual control during more productive years (19-23 vs 18-22). That's pretty much institutional collusion. In other words, it benefits the wealthy owners.
This is not a moral issue, at least not the type of moral issue that the media and NBA team execs are making it out to be. It's about business and leverage. Yi and his "handlers" (a creepy term the media has adopted for this story) have some right now, albeit not a lot, and they are using it. As they should.
This is not a benevolent system, these owners are very very rich men who belong to a very exclusive investment club. They pay athletes millions of dollars because they make 100s of millions of dollars in return. The also continuously collude to make the system benefit that end. When the agents/players find a way to game the system, the owners (NBA/Stern) counter by changing the system: Salary Cap, Luxury Tax, Bird Rule, Arenas Rule etc . . . All designed to take leverage away from the players. Sound like any other institution you've been a part of? Hint: The Bucks owner, Herb Kohl, is a U.S. Senator.
So why are the Bucks, valued at $260M, being applauded for their moral fortitude?
1. Spin. The Bucks want to paint this as a moral issue. The good guys trying to preserve order vs. the bad guys who want to upset the balance of this fair and egalitarian draft system. This is important because the Bucks have to sell this draft decision to its season ticket holders and the rest of their fan base.
What makes this spin job so easy?
2. The institutionalized morality of law. I think a lot of the NBA execs, not to mention most of the fans an the media, truly believe that, because the Bucks hold Yi's draft rights, they hold the moral high-ground. This is part of living in a 1st world society. We are taught to believe that: Rule = Good, Not Following the Rule = Bad. This is so ingrained in our consciousness that our first reaction is to side with the people following the rules because, after all, that's what good citizens do. So when we hear about Yi, telling the NBA that he's not going to follow the rules, our probable first reaction is "who the hell does this guy think he is? Why is he so special?". The same thing happened with the when T.O. wanted to renegotiate up his contract with the Eagles (why is Nellie getting the opposite reaction?). The Bucks and the NBA have this mindset on their side an it is a huge PR advantage.
All of this spin benefits the Bucks by applying more pressure on the Yi camp by painting him as a villain. That can not be helping his marketability. Also, the Bucks have now crafted a PR safety net for themselves if the Yi gamble doesn't pay off. Almost like "bad GM insurance" (see Twardzik, Dave). So now the worst case scenario is the Bucks lose Yi and come out looking like victims of an evil plot of questionable legality. Brilliant.
Disclaimer #2: Sorry for such a serious post. Blame the Pacers. If it weren't for them I'd still be spending all of my GSOM time writing "why Dunleavy is an overrated tool" posts (seriously, he's not a good passer!). Also, I know we're supposed to stay away from politics because this is a basketball (aka fun) blog, but this "basketball" issue is really about a complex political power struggle between a lot of wealthy parties (Bucks, China, Fegan, The NBA) trying to be spun as a black and white ethical issue. By that reasoning, I think this post is 95% justified/appropriate.
I gave this diary a plug on Ballhype. Hype it up!
- Atma Brother #1