The Sacramento Kings fired head coach Paul Westphal Thursday.
One the surface, one can look at the teams early record, even last years record, and say ok fine. After starting the season just 2-5, albeit with limited training camp, a young team, and an off-season of relocation scrutiny, did he deserve it, based on record alone? Probably not. The Kings brass will certainly tell you that’s why he’s gone.
This situation however, is all too familiar in the new era of the NBA. Westphal this week suspended 2nd year player Demarcus Cousins after he consistently got belligerent after games in the locker room following losses. Cousins, the fifth overall pick just last year, reportedly demanded a trade from the team.
Management now is put in an awkward situation. Trade the young, up and comer or get rid of the coach?
Easy solution in todays age of sports.
Gone are the days where coaches get the autonomy to discipline players the way they once could. Gone are the days where undermining a player to his face resulted in a turnaround in his performance.
Here are the pre-Madonna type players who have this sense of entitlement from a young age. Strolling into a professional locker room with no regard for the history and traditions are the game, they over and over again act in ways that would not be tolerated in any other work place.
The NBA alone has produced countless examples over the last 18 months alone:
July 8th, 2010: Superstar LeBron James uses hour long ESPN special, The Decision, to announce free agency signing with Miami Heat, leaving former his former club, Cleveland, with no word of his intent prior to the announcement.
February 22th, 2011: Carmelo Anthony finally traded from Denver Nuggets to New York Knicks after months of distraction to Nuggets team. Anthony held franchise hostage saying he wouldn’t accept a move to any other team.
May 25th, 2011: Mike Brown hired by Los Angeles Lakers; Kobe Bryant speaks out about not being consulted on decision. Hey Kobe wanna know why you weren’t consulted? You’re the player. For all your accolades and glories you’ve earned the respect of players, fans, legends etc. You’re still not management. You play the game.
December 10th, 2011: Despite $14 million salary, point guard Chauncy Billups threatens to retire after being cut by New York Knicks if he was claimed by a “bad” team.
December 19th, 2011: Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard requests trade to New Jersey Nets; Magic GM Otis Smith does not trade. This situation, while initially, looks to be a win for management, won’t be. Howard will be traded come trade deadline day, it’s just a matter of gathering the right assets in return. Right now though, despite the teams strong play, there is a sense of uncertainty around the Magic team and players, with the impending trade looming.
The above examples are just a few surrounding the stars of the game.
It’s a bad precedent to set when players are overhauling the decisions of teams, and ultimately the sport.
Imagine you demanding a raise from your boss, or getting in a heated argument with the CEO of your company and then having he or she be forced out. Not happening, sorry to break it to you.
Sports should be no different. Now, I understand players generate revenue for owners and teams and leagues. But a contract is a contract. There really is no point in having signed one if you’re going to decide to leave whenever the hell you choose.
The players, based on recent activity, know they have the upper-hand. Either management will agree to fire the coach, as in the Westphal situation, or they will get their wish and be moved to team of THEIR desire, like the Carmelo situation. Not a good trend to follow, especially when anybody and everybody decides they can do it.
What happens if Keith Smart, who Sacramento hired to replace Westphal, also gets into it with Cousins? Is he let go? Is their a threshold that must be hit before management finally gives up on Cousins, a player who in just over a year has had his fair share of indiscretions?
What we do know however is that until a team decides to take drastic actions, and suspend a player for believing he’s bigger than the team, this will continue.
Go to work tomorrow smiling at the opportunity to earn an income for you and your family.
If you’re not happy, suck it up.