Nature of the NBA to coddle hoopsters

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:48 PM ET

No major professional sports league in North America coddles its athletes quite like the NBA.

No league promotes individualism like the NBA, where one guy can make or break a franchise.

But there’s a fine line between allowing a player input in how a roster gets put together or how a coaching staff is assembled and having that player basically hold a club hostage.

Back when the Raptors made a run in the playoffs, which seems like forever, the franchise crossed that line when Vince Carter was allowed to call the shots, when Vinsanity was at its peak and was able to get away with anything.

Kevin Garnett had sway in Minnesota, which drafted the high schooler and helped nurture Garnett into a league MVP.

At least the Timberwolves have Al Jefferson, the one competent piece the team received when Garnett had to move on two years ago.

The Raptors got nothing for Carter, or at least nothing of any substance.

The Cavaliers are threatening to become the latest in placing all their basketball eggs in one basket.

The LeBron James buzz is so widespread these days that nothing should be taken at face value because of the many agendas at play.

Whether James reached out in a phone message to Chicago’s Derrick Rose is meaningless, but it takes on a life of its own, leading some to speculate that Rose is tampering.

It’s a ridiculous assertion, baseless in its claim, but that’s the nature of the NBA.

Chris Bosh is not in James’ class, but he was given the star treatment in Toronto because he was the face of the franchise.

Pieces were acquired to surround Bosh, but they didn’t mesh and the days to July 1 and the inevitable parting is ticking.

There are more perils than there are assurances when so much is given to a star player, even if it is a LeBron James.

When a championship isn’t delivered or when a long playoff run isn’t provided, the consequences can be devastating.

“If you trade a great player, you’d better get a whole lot in return because there are so few of those guys,” Phoenix Suns GM Kerr said. “It’s a lot easier to add to the base that you’ve already got and reshuffle the exterior people than break up the whole thing and trade a dominant player.”

Kerr took his lumps when he left the broadcasting booth to oversee the Suns as a rookie general manager.

He took a chance on Shaquille O’Neal and it failed, much like Shaq’s time with the Cavs disappointed.

“We kind of swung for the fences with Shaq,” Kerr said. “In retrospect, we were probably impatient and it cost us because it didn’t work.”

In retrospect, the Cavs should not have given Mo Williams mo money, given up draft picks, given Anthony Parker a two-year contract.

In retrospect, the Raptors shouldn’t have traded for Jermaine O’Neal and doled out too much dough for Hedo Turkoglu.

As uncertain as the immediate future looks in Toronto, it’s looking bleak in Cleveland.

The coddled hoopster isn’t a new phenomenon.

As long as the NBA continues to be a me-first league, it’ll continue to exist, but it’s incumbent on teams to exercise more restraint, which is saying a lot.

At the end of the day, owners and management are supposed to be calling the shots, not those who are paid to make shots on the court.

Courting Corbin

Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin, who had a cup of coffee with the Raptors during his playing days, is being wooed by teams looking to fill coaching vacancies.

Corbin’s brother, Darrell, played linebacker in the CFL and was Hamilton’s top rookie in 1988.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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