Eyes on Sports
Cheating your way out of town
by Morgan Bradshaw
In this yearís NBA playoffs, there have been a couple of players, Alonzo Mourning and Jim Jackson that have had strong performances replacing starters. In Miami, Mourning has subbed in for Shaquille OíNeal because of an injury and has delivered valuable minutes to the Heat. Meanwhile, Jim Jackson has replaced starter Joe Johnson for the Phoenix Suns and delivered in the fourth quarter of Games 5 and 6 against the Dallas Mavericks.
But I am not writing about them to give them praise. In fact, it is the exact opposite. The reason that both of them are in this position is because they held out after being traded. Mourning was traded to Toronto in the Vince Carter trade, but he refused to play for them and held out for nearly two months before the Raptors bought out his contract. Soon after, Mourning signed with the Heat. Jackson was traded by Houston to New Orleans, and Jackson decided that New Orleans was not very good, so he held out until the Hornets traded him to Phoenix.
This behaviour by both of these athletes is appalling. Sure, nobody likes to be traded to a bad team, but you have to respect that trade and play for the team that you are traded for. But for Mourning and Jackson, who have never won an NBA championship and have played for over 20 years between the two, decided to hold out, even though it was going to cost them money (who make enough as it is) for the hopes of playing with a contender.
What this behaviour does is that it puts a black eye on sports. Since athletes are looked up to by young kids as role models, this shows kids that if they are placed on a bad team, they can hold out and be asked to be placed on a better team. Eric Lindros comes to mind as he, not once, but twice, requested to go to a different team. No wonder he was called a baby.
Holdouts, unfortunately, tend to be as common a word in sports as a goal or a home run. It seems like athletes think they rule the world and if they donít like their contract or where theyíre going, they can just hold out and sit at home and eat steak and lobster because they have made so much money, holding out wonít cost them that much money anyway.
In situations like these, the commissioner or president of that respective sport should come in and play a hardball stance. Several years ago, Red Kelly of the Detroit Red Wings was traded to the New York Rangers, but Kelly decided not to go. President Clarence Campbell came Kelly an ultimatum; either report to New York within 5 days or be forced to retire. While Kelly was ultimately traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, you have to credit Campbell for doing the right thing.
The NBA and the NBAPA are going through the same problem the NHL and the NHLPA are having, a labour disagreement. The NBA could soon suffer the fate of the NHL and be mired in a lockout. One thing that should be agreed on by both parties is to institute a punishment for players that holdout because they donít like where they are traded to. Maybe a suspension for the entire year along with a 2 million dollar fine would do. Sure, it may be harsh but it would deliver a message to athletes that think they can get away with anything. They canít.