I know this post is a couple days late, but I think its worth writing about anyways. So here’s the story. After verbally agreeing to a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers, Elton Brand turned the other way and signed a five-year deal worth approximately $80 million with the Philadelphia 76ers. This took the Clippersby shock and deeply hurt the organization, which has been crippled by bad luck and poor support for their entire history. Now the questions is: Did Brand betray the Clippers? Even more so, should players take home-town discounts or go to where the money is best? Should players feel some responsibility to their teams or after the contracts expire, should they be completely separated from their former team? Is it a business or a game?
Brand is just one of many big time players who are expected to stay with their team for no apparent reason. Why should superstar players be attached to their particular team? In Brand’s case, it is different, because he had already agreed to a contract with the Clippers. The Clips seemed to have locked up Brand and felt content that they could finally compete in the tough Western Conference. Yet, Brand turned around and signed a lucrative deal with the 76ers. The Clippers weren’t offering maximum money to the big man, something they thought wouldn’t be the breaking point in the deal. They thought they were going to get a hometown discount and be able to keep Brand while also using some extra money to sign Baron Davis. Well they signed Davis, accommodating one of Brand’s wishes: to build a winning team. Now all Brand had to do was sign on the dotted line. Los Angeles wasn’t offering the maximum salary and though Brand seemed okay with that at first, he wasn’t okay with it in the end. So was it fair for Elton Brand to suddenly shock the Clippers and sign with the 76ers?
The short answer: Yes. The long answer: No. The right answer: I don’t know. Basketball, like every other professional sport, is a business and players, like employees, must make decisions that are best for themselves. That decision is almost definitely going to be to take the extra money, so in that way, Brand did not betray the Clippers, but made the best decision for himself. However, sports aren’t exactly like every other business. The employees of sports, players, become icons for their respective cities and they are idolized by thousands of people. They make millions of dollars and play a game for a living. Though the 76ers’ deal was more lucrative than the Clippers’ offer, Brand would still have made an extraordinary amount of money with the Clippers. So, should Brand be able to walk out on a city that finally felt like it could compete for a championship without feeling guilty? The extra money from the 76ersmay be nice, but is it enough to justify leaving a team and a city which had finally thought they would have a winning team. For a split second there, Clippers’ fans thought that with Brand and Davis, they had a contending team for the first time in franchise history. Brand let down every Los Angeles Clippers’ fan when he chose Philadelphia and bolted for the extra cash. Was it unexpected? Yes, but it shouldn’t have been. Superstar players leave teams for extra money all the time and Clippers’ fans were just ignorant for believing that Brand was an anomaly. It is a business. It is a game. Brand made the right decision for himself, but was it necessary? Does that decision justify smashing the hopes of every Clippers’ fan?
I don’t know. As a fan, I want my favorite players to feel responsible to my favorite team. I want then to be willing to take a home-town discount and to still play their best. If I were a player though, I would want fans to realize that sports are a business and that I need to make a decision that is best for me, not my fans. I am a fan and I am not a player, so I agree with the first argument, but I absolutely see the sustenance of the second argument. Which argument is correct? I don’t know. Tell me what you think. Should a player feel compelled to resign with his team for less money, thus helping the team win? Or should that player take the most lucrative contract available without feeling any guilt or remorse for leaving his former team?