Monday, August 1, 2011

Derek Fisher - The Informant

Look - I know the economy is important. I know that I should know more about the debt crisis and that I shouldn't snicker everytime I hear the words "House Leader Boehner". I fill my thoughts with meaningless statistics and championship matchups, rather than why the United States is facing a multi-trillion dollar deficit, and exactly how many millions make a trillion. I should care. I should learn how to be an adult.

But if you've followed this blog or you've followed my life, you know that this isn't going to happen. The foremost issue topping my noggin this summer is the current player lockout taking place in the National Basketball Association.

In this NBA purgatory that we all slug through day in and day out, one of the few bits of basketball news that filters through to the front page is Kobe potentially playing professional ball in Turkey for the Beskitas club.

At first, I didn't pay any attention or credence to it. It just seemed like another bit of player posturing to me. Could you possibly be more vague than saying you might be interested in playing in Europe? Well why say anything at all then? Kobe is a marketing machine. He's like the hype man before the concert, but then will actually play a full set afterwards. He's the whole show. He's 1994 Puffy and Biggie. He knows the worth of throwing out hypotheticals of him playing Euroball, and what that would mean for his brand over on the other side of the pond. But even with all that in mind, I couldn't believe that Kobe would consider this. This is a guy who practiced maybe 5 times last year in order to preserve his once-sturdy body from the wear and tear of being Kobe Bryant. He has gone on record as saying that his knees are practically "bone on bone" at this point. Why would he risk injury playing for a relatively low amount of money, competing against lesser basketball players? Don't misunderstand Kobe here - the risk isn't that he'll get hurt and miss out on his eventually forthcoming NBA player contract millions. The risk is not being able to compete for that 6th title. Kobe's has got more gold than China at this point - all he is competing for now is championships.

Turkey is not a controlled NBA situation. This is a league of guys that when they see international superstar Kobe Bryant, are going to play their hardest against him and try to make a name for themselves. They are going to foul him hard going to the rack, and try to recklessly dunk on him every time he is in the paint in hopes of making Sportscenter that night. The crowds will be rowdy and uncontrollable. This can't be for competition's sake either; this is the same league that it was a big deal when Sasha Vujacic signed a contract to play there. Nothing here makes sense. Why would Kobe do this?

The only thing that makes sense is that Kobe knows something we don't. The only way he signs with Beskitas is because knows that we're not having an NBA season.

Kobe's not without his sources - he's one of the 5 best basketball players in the world. He is one of the faces of the league. He's got his sources in the office. But most importantly, Derek Fisher, his teammate for 12 seasons and one true peer on the Lakers, is the president of the NBA Players Union. If your boy was on the inside of all the negotiations, wouldn't you just be able to call him up and say "Hey - what's the deal about this season? Do you think we're having it?". Fisher might not be able to tell him everything, but if that were my friend, he'd certainly give me his best opinion for how to conduct the next year of my life. Kobe would do this because a year off with no basketball is worse for his game than a year with just some, albeit far less competitive and passionate basketball. This is the most telling thing here. That a guy like Kobe, with all his resources and intel, would make a decision like this.

If Kobe signs with Beskitas, it's not just newsworthy for that specific story. I think it tells us a lot about the fate of the 2011-2012 season. And also, I will have to stop giggling at "House Leader Boehner". Damn it.

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