Most of the time when a cap-strapped organization like the New York Knicks have been for seemingly ever complains about being able to build a team and the system the league works under you can take it with a grain of salt. However, New York Knicks president Phil Jackson may have a point. He believes the new CBA hurts NBA team's ability to have roster continuity.
There's something to say for keeping a team together. Some of the best teams in NBA history had several key members who stuck together and played well together as a result of the time playing with one another. Most teams can't be slapped together and expected to win immediately. They need time to gel.
Unfortunately, the new CBA hurts teams trying to keep their core together long-term. That's something New York Knicks president Phil Jackson finds regrettable. It's an opinion Jackson expressed with the help of Hugh Delehanty in the New York Daily News.
Sadly, what inevitably is getting lost in this shift is a sense of continuity over time. Not only will the new agreement make it virtually impossible for teams — no matter how fat their wallets — to assemble lineups with more than two or three bona fide stars, it will also significantly reduce the number of players who can play the bulk of their careers on the same team. When I was with the Knicks, most of the key players on our championship teams — including Bill Bradley, Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, and Dave DeBusschere — were together for six years or more. That may never happen again. Instead we’re going to see a lot of teams made up of one or two stars and a cast of interchangeable specialty players on short-term contracts. As a result, it will be even more difficult to build the kind of group consciousness necessary to excel. The only remedy is to create a culture that empowers the players and gives them a strong foundation to build upon. Otherwise they’ll be too insecure to focus their energy on bonding together as a team.
This is one of those cases where Unions, free agency and money gets in the way of the purity of the game. One of the most fun things to think and speculate about is player movement. What if he was on this team? Would you trade these two for this guy?
That's just something that happens in an era with video games and fantasy sports. The mentality is almost ingrained in our brains. Most fans can't help but to think about how it might be if the best player in the league was on their team. Even if they have a healthy hate for that player.
That being said, there's something to be said for most players staying put. There's players in the Hall of Fame without championships because they stuck with their teams through rebuilding stages and tough times. Players who easily could have left for greener pastures, even if it took them taking a discount to do so.
In fact, in several cases, players did sign elsewhere. Many fans don't even remember one player or another latching on with another team in their twilight years. Why? Because those players were so synonymous with their given teams that it automatically pops up into your mind when you think of that player.
However, those were different times. They had a different CBA, players were making different money and there was a different mentality within the mindset of the players as well. These days many players act more like mercenaries than they do loyal soldiers.
On top of that the Players Union pressures players to not take less so that the market is good for all players in the league. Unfortunately, in todays NBA if players aren't willing to take less than their maximum value the team won't be able to keep everybody together for much more than a three to four year span.
Maybe that's a good thing. Player movement is fun after all. However, it's also fun to keep a team together and be able to point to a group of men representing your area and be able to claim them as your guys. Knowing they'll be there today, tomorrow and next year is a big deal.
The Players Union wanted to make it so players had more control over where they played. Control is a good thing. So is loyalty. So is building from the ground up. So is continuity. Hopefully in the next CBA there will be further negotiation to both allow player movement but also give them incentive to stay where they are without crippling their team financially.
Continuity is something that is missing in todays sports. That's something the NBA needs to be mindful of.
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Tags: Basketball, CBA, NBA, New York, New York Knicks, Phil Jackson, Players Union
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