The Roar
The Roar


NBA loyalty? What a joke

DeMar DeRozan faces up against Otto Porter. (Image: Keith Allison CC BY-SA 2.0)
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20th July, 2018

Loyalty is something that is so highly expected of the greatest players in the game, but when a player leaves he is labelled un-loyal and is criticised to such a large extent for doing what they believe is best for themselves.

But when a franchise trades a player with an immense love for a city, the excuse of “it’s just a business” is so often brought up. It’s completely unfair for players such as Kevin Durant and LeBron James to get so heavily scrutinised for leaving to pursue a better situation for themselves.

And somehow, the team is left to feel so betrayed and hurt but can just brush off trading a player with them having no say in the matter.

Three trades in recent times highlight the cold-heartedness an NBA front office can show towards a franchise player, completely taking loyalty out of the picture.

The trades being Isaiah Thomas to the Cavs, Blake Griffin to the Pistons and Demar DeRozan to the Spurs.

All of these players had the chance to leave in free agency or force a trade out of there, but all they showed the city was love and hard work. When players leave they are perceived as the villain and when being criticised, leaving for the better of themselves and career is rarely accounted for.

But when the front office pulls the trigger it’s apparently okay to fall back on the “it’s just a business excuse”.

And yes the league is a business but in a place where loyalty is so highly expected of the star players, you’d think the front office would show the same loyalty and respect to an individual who has given their blood, sweat and tears to the city. Some players even go as far as putting the team before themselves, playing in a time of personal struggles and difficulties.

The biggest example of this is former Celtics guard and franchise player, Isaiah Thomas who we all know played in Game 1 of the playoffs in 2017 hours after his sister tragically passed away. He gave his whole heart to the franchise and was ready to commit to the Celtics for the rest of his career, but was traded away to Cleveland months later to a situation that has now completely screwed his career over.

Isaiah Thomas layup John Wall

(Image: Keith Allison CC BY-SA 2.0)

The next example is Blake Griffin getting shipped off to the Pistons. Blake had every opportunity to leave the joke of a franchise that is the Clippers organisation, but instead gave his loyalty to be a “Clipper for life” and then was traded away months after signing a five-year extension.

Now the most recent blockbuster trade in NBA news is probably the most disrespectful in recent memory. With the Raptors trading the best player in franchise history, who had delivered so much to the country of Canada days after telling him he was not going to be shipped out.

If Demar had left Toronto last summer to go home to LA or elsewhere, his jersey would have been burnt and name disrespected.

But instead, the franchise did what they thought was best, not even considering the welfare of a Demar who had previously led the Raptors to the most amount of wins in franchise history, not to mention finishing eight in MVP voting. Combined with recently admitting to dealing with depression and the front office didn’t even have any intention to tell him beforehand?

And to tell him the complete opposite? I know that a team should try and make themselves better but surely, they owed Demar more than that.

The outcome and manner of these trades will shift the way players approach their upcoming free agency. Kevin Durant did what was best for him, so after these examples of the myth surrounding franchise loyalty it should be about time for other great players to do the same.

Because NBA loyalty is a complete joke.