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Five Bullshit Things About David Stern's Bullshit Veto Of The Chris Paul Trade

Illustration for article titled Five Bullshit Things About David Stern's Bullshit Veto Of The Chris Paul Trade

David Stern's veto of the Chris Paul trade contains so much kaleidoscoping bullshit that it seems more than worth it to lay out just some of the bullshit:


1.) David Stern had to veto the deal because he spent months selling a bullshit lockout on the bullshit grounds that the league needed competitive balance, and that taking players' money and restricting their movement would help achieve it. This was (and remains) bullshit for all the reasons Henry Abbott explained again and again, but it was (and remains) effective bullshit. It was so effective that small-market owners apparently began shrieking the moment they heard that Chris Paul could be going to the Lakers, panicked by their bullshit concern that the rich were about to get richer anyway. Even though that, too, was bullshit (as we'll explain). Stern has sold his competitive-balance bullshit for a long time, and at some point I guess he began smoking his own supply.

2.) Stern further had to veto the deal because some NBA owners are still inflamed by their bullshit fear of "superteams," i.e. the Miami Heat (a team that Stern once said was good for the NBA, which wasn't bullshit). The owners' bullshit fear was further stoked by the bullshit specter of Chris Paul strong-arming his way to a perennially successful franchise of his choosing. This is bullshit because the NBA owners created their own bogeyman. Their bullshit lockout of 1998-99 was about controlling maximum salaries, which kept star players from getting paid their full value. Once bullshit max contracts were the rule, the less appealing franchises couldn't spend extra to attract or retain players, leaving Cleveland to compete with Miami head to head, as a destination. This encouraged stars to make decisions for more than money. If LeBron James or Chris Paul is going to get roughly the same deal wherever he goes, why not go to a city he likes where he can play basketball with talented friends and win a lot of games? Maybe you think that's bullshit, but that's exactly what stars are incentivized to do under the max-contract regime, which, as I say, is the real bullshit here.

3.) The Paul trade was a bad deal for the Lakers and a good one for the Hornets, the small-market team whose bullshit interests all those angry owners—and Stern, too, as Hornets owner in loco parentis—were supposedly defending. I'm with John Hollinger: The Hornets weren't going to find a better return on Paul than what they would've gotten in the deal (Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Lamar Odom, Goran Dragic, plus the Knicks' first-round pick), and what little leverage they had in the trade market for Paul has now been shot to hell and gone. The Lakers would've had a great pick-and-roll point guard with no one left to pick and roll with him. Superteam? Bullshit.

4.) "When will we just change the name of 25 of the 30 teams to the Washington Generals?" obstreperous bullshitter Dan Gilbert said in a message to Stern, apparently written in the sort of pleading, self-pitying prose one finds in prison letters. Here's the bullshit thing about that: You are the Washington Generals. You have always been the Washington Generals, and until the NBA goes commie and starts arming the peasantry and redistributing the land—a la the NFL—you will go on being the Washington Generals. All sports are rigged to one degree or another. The NFL is rigged so that everyone is the Washington Generals. MLB is rigged so that the Washington Generals, upon receiving their annual bribe, are mostly content to remain the Washington Generals. And, yes, the NBA is rigged so that a handful of teams—the teams the general public actually likes to watch on TV—get to enjoy their native blessings, and everyone else is the Washington Generals.

5.) So here's what we have: caterwauling small-market owners, having swallowed the competitive-balance bullshit, having just won a bullshit labor war to Make the World Safe for NBA Owners without actually doing anything to address their bullshit casus belli, prevailing upon the main purveyor of bullshit in the NBA to spike a good deal for their fellow franchise in New Orleans almost entirely out of bullshit concerns over the bullshit possibility of another superteam. It's really perfect, in a way: David Stern just sacrificed the Hornets at the altar of his own bullshit.