Value the Players: Draymond Green Calls Out NBA

Value the Players: Draymond Green Calls Out NBA

Owen Lapp

Athletes have never had more power. They can force trades, have a say in decision making, and are getting paid more than ever. But the most important thing they have is momentum.

 

The train of change will continue chugging along no matter what, but occasionally, someone comes along and gives it a boost. Curt Flood helped create free agency in baseball, Reggie White did the same in football, and a decade ago, LeBron James made a decision to kick NBA player empowerment into high gear.

 

When LeBron James announced to the world that he was taking his talents to the Miami Heat to form a superteam, he launched player empowerment into a new stratosphere. He has been creating a movement, changing the landscape for athletes ever since. And Draymond Green is its spokesperson.

 

On February 15th, after the Warriors defeated the Cavaliers, Draymond Green had a postgame press conference. But instead of answering bland questions about the Warriors’ mentality or strategy, he took the conversation where he wanted to take it, which led to a three minute rant on the treatment of NBA players.

 

Green cited the situations of Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and James Harden when talking about the double standard that players are held to. “As a player, you’re the worst person in the world when you want a different situation,” Green said. “But a team can say they’re trading you and that man has to stay in shape, he has to stay professional and, if not, his career is on the line.” 

 

Draymond Green is right. Players are drafted to teams with no say on where they get to go, but if they want out of that situation, it suddenly becomes their fault. It used to be worse. LeBron bore the full brunt of public outrage when he left his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. 

 

He had betrayed his team. How dare he! Why would he leave an organization that had helped him so much, creating a core around him that was made up of Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison, and a 37-year old Shaq? Why would he leave that for Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami? 

 

What did LeBron owe the Cavs? Nothing. He stayed with them for the entirety of his contract, and dragged them to an NBA Finals with the aforementioned players around him. They had failed to build a team around him, so why would he want to stay? LeBron opened the door for athletes to break the ancient mold of “staying loyal to the team that drafted you even if they are horribly mismanaged stay no matter what”. 

 

The effects of “The Decision” have been felt in the last decade. Other athletes have even taken things a step farther in forcing their way off of teams with years still left on their deals. LeBron’s own teammate, Kyrie Irving, forced his way off the Cavs. Anthony Davis, LeBron’s current teammate, forced his way out of New Orleans. James Harden recently forced his way out of Houston.

 

They have figured it out. Players have never had this much power, and they are only going to get more. Why? They’ve figured out that they are more important to an organization than management is.

 

NBA players were ahead of the game in discovering their power, and now it is spreading to other sports, as Deshaun Watson makes it known that he doesn’t want to play for a dysfunctional Houston Texans team, and a lot of it is thanks to LeBron.

 

Where does Draymond come in? He is helping lead the next generation of athletes. In his rant, he said players need to be “treated with the same respect and the same rights as a team has”, and players aren’t there yet, but they are slowly moving closer, and they aren’t stopping.

 

LeBron opened the door, Draymond is making sure people get through the door (and yells about it if they don’t), and future generations of athletes are going to have even more power as players continue to be valued as they should by their employers. The train hasn’t reached its destination, but it is making progress.