It was once the norm that your everyday athlete stuck to the business of sports. Those that spoke out were often condemned by the public and would lose their jobs. Nowadays, athletes use their platforms to be the starters of political movements. Whether it be the politics of their profession or their country, athletes are speaking out in droves. As Draymond Green so eloquently stated in his most recent press conference, there’s a double standard in the NBA.
Draymond calls out the NBA’s double standard for players who request a trade vs. teams who sit a player in order to trade them pic.twitter.com/nKcbKvA2MM— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 16, 2021
Whether you like Draymond Green or not, his overall points are valid. Even with today’s more progressive culture, there’s a large portion of fans who continue to side with teams over players. There’s a belief that sports teams can do whatever they want, whenever they want, and players should deal with it because they get paid. In rare instances like Deshaun Watson and the Texans, the organization has been so publicly atrocious that fans have no choice but to side with Watson. That said, this idea that teams are always right and players should play is outdated, blasphemous, and simply idiotic.
Let’s Be Honest…
Just because someone makes millions of dollars doing what they love doesn’t mean they’re any less human. It certainly shouldn’t mean their opinions carry any less weight or that they have no say in where they play. No matter the sport, there’s a limited window for professional athletes to make their money. Many get paid handsomely despite what team they’re on, but should that mean they have no say in where they play?
Matthew Stafford’s prime was wasted playing for a subpar Lions team. Andrew Luck retired early due to the beating he took playing for a poorly run Colts team. Bradley Beal’s prime is currently being wasted playing for the Washington Wizards. And while some respect Beal’s decision to stay with the team, some also question why he hasn’t requested a trade. Think back to Draymond Green’s point on James Harden.
James Harden gave the Houston Rockets everything he had. From 2012-2020, he was an 8-time All-Star, 6-time First Team All NBA, 3-time scoring leader, and won an MVP. He provided multiple spectacular moments and led the team to numerous winning seasons. Though they never made the finals, they did get to a game seven against the Kevin Durant lead Golden State Warriors. Yet when he requested a trade from Houston at the age of 31, he was as Draymond Green put it, “castrated”.
The Reality of Being an Athlete
When you’re a professional athlete, you’re in a lose-lose situation. You’re dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t. It’s understandable yet sad how fast a fanbase or league can turn against you. Especially when your comments or said actions were motivated by the desire to win. Every athlete wants to make money, but not all truly crave winning.
LeBron James was considered a villain for teaming with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Kevin Durant (somewhat rightfully) was called a snake for joining the 73-win Warriors. Critics of Tom Brady accused him of needing too much help when joining the Buccaneers. In the end, it all came down to the player’s desire to win. Something that should have a positive rather than negative light shined on it.
Russell Wilson is currently at odds with the Seahawks over how they’ve neglected to support him. For nine years, he’s towed the company line to the point where his critics labeled him as disingenuous. Through it all, the Seahawks have yet to build an appropriate offense around him. Russell Wilson touched on his legacy in the NFL and what he wants it to be. The reoccurring themes revolve around winning, individual performance, and championships, something the Seahawks haven’t even been close to since 2014.
There are those (like myself) who support Wilson’s right to speak out, and those who think he should stay silent. Those who place the blame on Pete Carroll, and those who claim Wilson should suck it up and take his paycheck. As a professional athlete… can you ever truly stay in the right?
With That Being Said…
If nothing ever changes, then nothing ever changes. We wouldn’t have seen the player movement era without LeBron James being a trailblazer. Without a Curt Flood, free agency might’ve never come into existence. Movements like Black Lives Matter wouldn’t have gained global attention if not for our athletes using their voices. Athletes have always had this type of power, and players like Draymond Green are using it to it’s fullest.
Either hop on board or get the hell out of the way. It’s a runaway train that will only get stronger as the years pass us by.