Monday, July 6, 2009

Sir, Can You Please Sign On the Dotted Line?

The most exciting day on the NBA calendar is the start of the free agency period. NOT.

I’ve always imagined David Stern pre-free agency acting like Ryan Seacrest at the very end of American Idol when he’s pressing loyal viewers (not named “Mike Benjamin”) to dial I-D-O-L-S zero-whatever for Bo Bice, Tamyra Gray, or some other singer not named Kelly Clarkson destined to flame out like the famed Justin Guarini. (I think I saw him working at a Denny's last week.) I just know our commish is standing at his oak desk eager to announce the year’s salary cap, eager to figure out sneaking ways to manipulate the next collective bargaining agreement, and bent on pushing another playoff officiating fiasco under the rug. It’s hard out there for a pimp.

But why is this day so special? Well, it’s because it’s the only day where you’ll see journeyman power forwards ask for ridiculous deals (Charlie Villanueva), one-dimensional players get overpaid (Ben Gordon), and former Knick players (Quentin Richardson and Zach Randolph) get traded for one another in a furious attempt to cut salary and dump garbage. I'm just giddy for the day Joe Dumars is forced to give Rip Hamilton away for 60 cents on the dollar. Yes, Pistons's coming.
Truth be told, this first day of free agency holds the most intrigue for die-hard fans around the country. To us, these stoolies are the guys that have the potential to propel our players to the playoffs and beyond. Heck, the guy that your owner let walk away looks like the missing piece to our championship puzzle! Of COURSE we’ll overspend to get him! (By the way Magic fans, that’s the reason you won’t be having Hedo Turkoglu in your starting lineup next season. Enjoy groaning as Vince hoists fadeaways from the loge section while your best defender (C-Lee) matures in my backyard (New Jersey). You can thank your brilliant GM and greedy power forward for that.)

The most intriguing part, of course, is always seeing how your team will respond to the chaos. For example, when I saw that Memphis sent an offer sheet to David Lee on Day 1 (10 mil/year), I chuckled like Wimpy before tearing up a plate of hamburgers. Seriously? Do you really think D-Lee’s going to rely on the likes of Chris Wallace to assemble a championship-caliber team in a dead basketball market? Now, thanks to Hedo’s controlling wife (Jackie Christie must've gotten to her) forcing Turk to select Raptor irrelevancy over Blazer resurgence, we’ll probably get to see David Lee don a Knick jersey for the next five years.

Unfortunately, the gloom and doom of free agency begins to seep in after the big names leave the market. Simply put, the rest of free agency pretty much equates to dumpster diving. Got a roster spot to fill? How about looking at Travis Diener! Need a walking poster to fill your summer league team? Take a look at Robert Swift! Mulling over sending a player to Europe to blossom? Why not! He’ll enjoy getting paid in Euros!

So, eager NBA fan, enjoy watching your rookies and journeymen battle for the final roster spot in Summer League over the WNBA’s lugubrious glory. Yes, I’d also make that decision 10 times out of 10. (The WNBA: Expect layups. Sorry Candace.)

In reality, the NBA should just go ahead and let the networks turn Summer League basketball into reality television. You’re telling me folks wouldn’t tune in to watch a guy named Christmas play? You’re telling me that this wouldn’t beat out Wipeout for ratings? Think about it. It’d be like Knight School, only 37% less racist!
Anyway, now that it's finally stopped raining on the East Coast…go ahead and enjoy the summer. I know I will.

(Lebron, I’ve got my eye on you. And Dwight, work on your post game. You'll be glad you did.)

Mike Benjamin is an aspiring sportswriter that hails from Queens, NY. You can check out more of his work at his blog, Points Off Turnovers. Make sure to start following him over at Twitter, too.)


  1. The Orlando Magic tore out my heart and stomped all over it. I'm not saying that Hedo was necessarily going carry the Magic back to the Eastern Conference Finals, but Vince Carter's 32-year-old knees surely aren't. And giving away your future just doesn't make sense. Ah well, off to find another team to carry my lackluster NBA 2K skills.

    P.S. Loved the not so subtle dig at the WNBA.
    P.S.S. Follow me on Twitter too @TheRealIGH...why not?

  2. Yup, Stan Van threw that Finals away. It was sad, really. And with no Rafer, it looks bleak to get back.

    But hey, at least they have J-Will as their backup now, right? RIGHT?