Tuesday, July 13, 2004

SPORTS: The NBA, the land of the dumb rule

Welcome to today's NBA, where the league office can stick a knife in the back of good guy Gordan Gund, who won't see it coming. Not because he's visually-impaired (he is), but because good guys always fail to see the sneak attack.

Gund's Cleveland Cavaliers are supposed to be one of the good stories in the league. Moribund until last year's draft-winning award of LeBron James, the Cavs have also survived long enough to see Zydrunas Ilgauskas reach his injury-prevented potential and for Carlos Boozer to become the patron saint of second-round picks.

Boozer, a Duke grad (of the basketball program), has become a very good power forward in the NBA through determination and hard work. He was also due to make $700 grand, making him the obviously most-underpaid player in the league. League rules prevented the Cavaliers from rewarding him with any more money this year. All they could do is offer up a good raise, but not an earned raise. So, Gund and GM Jim Paxson told Boozer they'd do him the favour of NOT picking up the club option. That way, they could start the good money (millions of dollars) this year. It was a generous and good-hearted gesture to reward a soldier who'd done more than his part. Boozer and his snake of an agent readily agreed to winning the mini-lottery.

And then Boozer agreed to sign with Utah.

There are words and names to apply to Boozer and his agent. None printable here. But they've been used elsewhere. Suffice it to say, enough furor has been raised that Boozer fired his reprobate of an agent (who should be disbarred from the legal profession) and there's now talk of a rapprochment with Cleveland. Which means he plans to stiff Utah. Heads you're a heel, tails you're a two-time fibber.

All of this goes on under the auspices of the asinine NBA rules that require teams NOT talk to their players, NOT engage in trade talks for several weeks and NOT acknowledge that they HAVE made trades and signed players when guys like Rafer Alston are house-hounting in Toronto!!! And if you violate those rules (and are clumsy enough to actually get caught) then the Timberwolves punishment is hanging over your head.

That's right, Gund and the Cavs are NOW being investigated for having a prior agreement with Boozer to sign him after releasing him. It's oral this time, rather than written, as was the case with Joe Smith. But it was obviously in place until Boozer reneged. The NBA in its infinite lack of wisdom, COULD hammer the Cavaliers while Boozer walks too.

Can you imagine the brain power (or the lack of it) that makes rules that get results like that?

Give Gordon Gund a break.

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