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Retrospective on a Discourse

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Or - "False Alarm, Everybody!"

Turns out I was right - Chris Paul isn't going to be traded. First, we get the official line from ESPN:

Paul seemed to have grown amicable to their intentions after the 11 a.m. ET meeting, which according to sources with knowledge of New Orleans' thinking included Paul's new agent Leon Rose, with the Hornets represented by general manager Dell Demps, coach Monty Williams and team president Hugh Weber.

And then Chris Paul released his own statement:

The meeting went well.  It was great to get an opportunity to sit down with Coach Williams, President Weber and our new General Manager Dell Demps. I expressed my desire to win and I like what they said about the direction that they want to take the team.  I have been a Hornet my entire career and I hope to represent the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana for many years to come.

Okay, so we can cut it out with the Chris Paul trade links. Go back to posting trades for Iguodala or Granger or whomever else you want.

Really, the most remarkable thing about this whole saga has been the ways in which people have interpreted it. For some, including many posters here as well as Woj, Chris Paul's trade request is somehow indicative of a new era in the NBA, or at the very least a symptom of exactly what is wrong with the league right now. We saw Michael Jordan, as well as (hilariously) Charles Barkley claim that they would have NEVER teamed up with other stars (then what the hell was 1996, Chuck?) just a few weeks ago, and now we saw others proclaiming Chris Paul's stratagem the end of basketball as we know it.

I think I've commented enough on the foolishness of those comments elsewhere, so I want to look at them from another angle. I believe that what Woj and others (including many of you) have been articulating is symptomatic of why the impending lockout may just be inevitable. I wouldn't be so bold as to claim that the attitudes expressed here and elsewhere by NBA fans will in any way direct the course of League-Union negotiations over the next year, but this discourse - the idea of over-privileged and overpaid players dictating the actions of overburdened and unfortunate billionaire owners has been deployed (sometimes more covertly than in others) repeatedly over the past several years by NBA owners, reporters, and fans.

The idea that Chris Paul's actions this past week were anything less than ordinary (there have been demands for trades to better teams going back many decades, folks, and the Rockets have benefited from those demands many times) or that they demonstrated anything more than the particular desires of a young star, is patently ridiculous. Posters on CF (yeah, I lurk there) repeatedly asserted that we were living in a new age, wherein agents and stars dictate the actions of teams.

Well, to that I say two things:

1) That is obviously not the case, or, rather, it is no more the case now than it was twenty years ago.

2) Even if it were the case, would that be so bad?

Let us consider how we live our lives. We typically believe that our individual ability to, on some level, decide where and how we'll work is a good thing. We typically think that our rights to negotiate for better wages or better circumstances with our employers are a cornerstone of a free society. And yet when we begin talking about NBA players, these assumptions (and any empathy) seem to be thrown out in favor of rhetoric about an imagined yesteryear.

In any case, this is exactly what I suspected would happen. Chris Paul talked with the team, they convinced him to lay off the trade talk for a while, and he'll probably be happy for a few months, at least. As I said when these rumors first began percolating, this has all the feeling of the trade demands of many franchise players, most of whom are simply sending a message to management.