What happens when a billionaire tires of his toys?
I have to admit that I haven’t slept well for the past few nights. It started a few days before the NBA free agency. I have looked forward to this day ever since the team I have supported my whole life, the Dallas Mavericks, got swept in the NBA playoffs.
Dallas was supposed to be one of the main contenders after coming off a championship season. But the franchise decided that they were going to let a couple of main players go, partly because of the tighter salary cap that will be implemented, and partly because they are planning on signing Deron Williams, an all star point guard who is from Dallas (more on that later).
The Mavericks lost J.J. Barea, an electric guard who provided instant offence whenever he was on the court during the playoff run and Tyson Chandler, the defensive anchor who provided valuable rebounding and leadership for the team.
I didn’t understand why Dallas didn’t re-sign those guys but I was okay with the decision because I knew we were going to get D-Will, the hometown hero who is going to be the star of the team after Dirk retires, after all Nowitzki isn’t getting younger and Dallas needs to plan about the future.
Then, just a few days before the free agency season began, I started to hear about how Williams might be staying with his current team, the Brooklyn Nets. I knew the Nets would try to resign Williams but I always assumed he was coming to the Mavericks because Dallas is a much better team and would have a legitimate shot at the title if he is on board.
One thing about NBA stars, they are all like Gollum from the Lord of the Rings: those who haven’t got a championship ring yet are desperate for a shot at the precious. Deron might not be Lebron James, but he wants one badly, publicly speaking about how he is going to sign with a contender team. The Nets were one of the worst teams in the league this season and the organisation didn’t seem to have what it takes to build a solid team even though they have a Russian billionaire on board.
Jay-Z, a minor owner/rapper/husband of Beyonce once rapped that ‘the Nets could go 0 for 82 and I’d look at you like this shit gravy’. If you are a competitive guy, would you want to play for a guy who doesn’t really care if his team is getting embarrassed night in night out? Or for Mark Cuban, supposedly the best sports owner, who travels with the team during the season, attending most games while fanatically shouting abuse at the referees?
Then I started to read about reports saying the Nets can offer a contract that is worth 24 millions more than the Mavs. My heart sank, but I reassured myself that just because Deron shares the same last name as $onny Bill Williams doesn’t mean he is going to take the money, after all Dallas is his hometown. Nevertheless I spent the next few nights staying up, refreshing Twitter every couple of minutes hoping I would get some insider information as to where D-Will will go.
Then a day into free agency, Deron William$ tweeted a picture of the Brooklyn Nets.
I was dumbfounded to say the least. Actually, I was reeling. It was the feeling that by not landing him, the team I love is going to be screwed for the next few years at least. It was the same feeling when Todd Carney got sacked and when Liverpool sold Xabi Alonso. It was the feeling that without that player, your favourite player won’t be able to win a title and he doesn’t deserve that. Steven Gerrard doesn’t deserve that and Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t deserve that either.
Then I heard about how Mark Cuban didn’t attend the meeting with Deron William$, he chose to stay in Los Angeles, filming Shark Tank, a reality show that features him and four other entrepreneurs. As if people want to see five rich people in a reality show anyway, honestly I would rather watch that Lara Bingle reality show.
What was he thinking?! Why wasn’t he there, the guy was going to be an important member of your team, and Cuban couldn’t take a day off telling how much he wants him on the team?
Journalists reported that this is a plan to position the Mavericks to sign Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, two of the best players in the league, when they become free agents in 2013. But I heard the same story last year. I am not going to put myself in such a vulnerable position again, I don’t want to go through what I have gone through again next year.
Cuban was supposed to be the best owner in all of sports, fabled for always splashing out for good players to make his team competitive, but as of tonight, I have signed as many impact players as him. True, he resigned Vince Carter, a former all star, but if I wanted to watch a washed-up childhood hero I would have gone to a Melbourne Victory match last season.
I couldn’t figure out what Mark Cuban was thinking, then it hit me. He won already, he got a championship ring after chasing one for so long and he doesn’t care anymore, he has moved on.
So watch out Chelsea and Manchester City, you may be next once your billionaires owner got what they paid for.