While advancements in technology, physical training, and media have improved the overall scope of every professional league, one anonymous NBA general manager says some developments are harming the landscape of professional sports.
In a recently published article in The New Yorker, the anonymous GM spoke at length about “player empowerment,” and specifically about how superstars have more leverage today in where they play, who they play with, what social causes their team gets behind, even down to how many minutes per game they’re averaging.
The NBA general manager was quoted as saying “Player empowerment is a catchall for the fact that the league has done a terrible job of empowering teams.”
“The players have all of the leverage in every situation. I think it’s the worst thing that ever happened to professional sports on all levels,” the anonymous GM went on to say.
Players who make it to the NBA largely enter through the league’s draft lottery system, which sees the 14 worst teams in the league have their names drawn on ping pong balls and dropped into a bucket where the commissioner then selects the order of the upcoming season’s draft.
The worse the team, the more balls that team has and the better their odds are at having the top pick in that season’s NBA draft.
High profile players like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Kevin Durant are typically drafted in that lottery range, and often suit up for losing franchises in cities with poor attendance, a limited amount of outside marketing opportunities, and an increasing amount of pressure to completely turn things around for franchises whose failure is most likely due to poor ownership and management.
Following the release of the original article, the anonymous GM in question provided a statement to provide further clarification following a public backlash against the comments.
“I am glad the players are empowered, but we, as Joel [Embiid] says, have to trust the process,” the GM said. “And by the process I mean ping pong balls.”
“We certainly are not going to revisit how players enter our league or try and find a balance or anything. Just shut up and dribble, even if that means you have to play in the cold desolate winters of Minnesota or the flat uneventful plains of Oklahoma.”