Friday, July 15, 2011

Shank it, NBA: Locked-out players can golf with Jordan, but not for charity?

Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan could lose $1 million dollars this week at the American Century Classic golf tournament, and that figure would have nothing to do with any sort of side bets he makes on making par with his foursome.
Because the NBA has locked out its players, and prohibited any sort of contact between NBA team employees and NBA players (even if they are currently "under contract," so to speak, with other teams), Jordan could face a million dollar fine should he either be paired with or simply speak to one of the five NBA players scheduled to appear at the tourney.
Who are the players, and team employees, you ask?
Michael Jordan and Vinny Del Negro.
What is, "a fair 5-on-2 game if each of the participants were in their prime," Alex?
No. It's actually part of a lineup in a golf pro-am in Lake Tahoe that is taking place this weekend featuring current NBA stars, along with current NBA team employees like both Jordan and Del Negro.
Not a big deal, you'd think. And something you might not even have been aware of until reading a post like this, or receiving a tweet like I did. But as we mentioned earlier Wednesday, the NBA is ready to levy fines of $1 million should NBA team employees (say a Charlotte Bobcats owner, like Jordan; or a Los Angeles Clippers coach, like Vinny Del Negro) decide to commiserate with NBA players; much less re-tweet them, or even speak about how much they'd like to see them play Summer League hoops this summer in one word or less.
So why are NBA players allowed to tee it up with Jordan and Del Negro this weekend, and not withPortland Trail Blazers team employee (and former Portland power forward) Brian Grant's Trail Blazer-filled charity golf tournament pitched to raise money for Parkinson's research?
As was included in the Portland Tribune piece we linked to on Wednesday, Portland cannot include current Portland Trail Blazers who are currently locked out:
Brian Grant — also on the Blazer payroll as an ambassador — can't have current NBA players participate in his upcoming golf event for Parkinson's disease.
So what's the difference with the American Century Championships? Is it because it's nationally televised? Because too many sponsors would feel the heat if either Jordan or all of the NBA stars dropped out? I mean, this particular tournament (unlike Brian Grant's) isn't even for charity. A fun batch of viewing, no doubt (I'm a closet golf dork), and you know all the corporate sponsors will have their various charitable write-offs as the year progresses, but Grant's tourney is easily the thing to sign a waiver on, right NBA?
Is it because there's a better chance of current Blazers chatting it up with Brian Grant at his tournament? Seems a bit farfetched, especially as Ray Allen still endorses Michael Jordan's specific line of Nike shoes.
If the Portland Tribune is to be believed, and the five current NBA players listed above actually show up to this tournament, then we have some real -- and absolutely needless -- hypocrisy here, led completely by the NBA and its league office decision-makers.
We're not saying The Lake Tahoe Five, or Jordan and Del Negro, should go home. We're impressing upon the NBA to stop trying to win the PR war that it's already lost with these sorts of rules. Rules that we've learned aren't exactly hard and fast, especially if you get to have your tournament on national TV.

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