When word broke that the Toronto Raptors would be fined $25,000 for what the league deemed as crossing illegal “recruiting” lines, I thought the entire thing was silly.
Drake publicly imploring fans to show Kevin Durant the type of appreciation that he would be in for if he ever decided to make Canada his 2016 free agency destination is something that could happen at plenty of hip-hop concerts and in many rap songs. The lone difference is that the rapper is considered an employee of the Raptors because of his role as the team’s global ambassador.
So my question for the league is, what is the big difference between Drake’s mention and the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ blatant contact and open conversations about Kevin Love?
While tampering has always been an NBA issue, it has usually been a well-kept secret that comes out months after the transaction. For example, the plan that brought together the Big Three in Miami. But in this case, everything is being paraded in front of the media microphones.
Reports have been written from Yahoo! Sports to ESPN about the Minnesota Timberwolves giving Cleveland permission to talk to Love about alleged contract assurances and his long-term Cavs interests nearly a month ago, which sounds extremely believable after Andrew Wiggins’ college coach, Bill Self, chose to reveal that his former star has “known since the summer that he’d be traded.”
Wolves owner Glen Taylor even admitted that the trade would likely happen 30 days to the day that this year’s No. 1 pick could officially be moved.
Aren’t making deals before they are legal considered tampering? How about LeBron James openly talking about how much of a key piece a player under contract with another team would be to his championship cause? He even going as far to preface his comments with, “We can’t get too far into it because of league rules.”
Yet nothing happens. No tampering calls, no fines and no trades called off. Instead, the league and national media are more focused on covering the lack of carbs in players’ diets, as if they are not just following the Ray Allen challenge that surfaced last year in the Miami Heat camp.
Why? Because whether we like it or not, the first signs of sidestepping tampering did not start in 2010 and it will not end in 2014. Not when the league could jeopardize the money grab that comes with new excitement, or when it involves punishing the person at the top of the league’s totem pole. After all, we have all heard about commissioner Adam Silver’s relationship with James: one so tight that he’s considering giving players a week off after All-Star because it was “one of the issues LeBron raised.”
It must be nice being the best player in the world and having all the pull. Just ask Michael Jordan how free it feels when rules don’t matter anymore.