Posted by Sekou Smith
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Take a good look at Kevin Durant, perhaps the last of the “old school” superstars in the NBA.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have changed the league forever without ever actually playing a game together. By now you’ve seen the CBSSports.com report about Chris Paul wanting out of New Orleans before the start of this season, and the “preferred” list of teams he’s targeting for his next destination: Knicks, Magic and Lakers. (ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard has a different list of “preferred” teams, citing the Knicks, Magic, Mavericks and Trail Blazers but not the Lakers).
One Super Trio is one thing — and the Miami Three were at least free agents, all they did was exercise their options in an open market. But stars (that aren’t free agents yet) forcing their way out of situations so they can create their own version of a Super Team is a disturbing trend that has to worry fans in places where your superstar is maybe on the wrong side of the playoff line.
Durant spared us the drama earlier this summer, agreeing and signing a five-year extension with Oklahoma City (without the hoopla of an ESPN special or any of the fireworks associated with a zany free-agency period), keeping together an organically grown team that could be a true contender in the Western Conference this season.
Unfortunately, he appears to be one of the few superstars of his generation interested in that sort of approach. And if you don’t believe it, check out some of what Ken Berger had to say in that CBSSports.com story about Paul:
In late June, Paul, 25, spent several days in Akron, Ohio, with James, who was busy orchestrating his own exit strategy from Cleveland. The two friends and superstars picked each other’s brains, with each persuading the other to make significant changes in their branding strategies. For Paul, it was a big step to persuade James to join the social networking phenomenon that is Twitter. For James’ part, he finally persuaded Paul to join his Cleveland-based marketing company, LRMR.
Paul’s decision to sign with LRMR, headed by James’ close friend and advisor, Maverick Carter, was only the first step in his exit plan from New Orleans. Paul officially severed his representation agreement with Octagon earlier this month and will soon officially join the influential stable of clients represented by Creative Artists Agency.
With a stranglehold on the top free-agent talent, CAA dictated the terms, pace and outcome of the monumental free-agent class of 2010. CAA clients James and Bosh agreed to join forces with fellow CAA client Wade in Miami, forming a rare triumvirate through the leverage and friendship of players as opposed to the whim of management.
Paul will be represented by CAA agent Leon Rose, who also represents James and potential 2011 free agents Anthony and Tony Parker. Miami’s Big Three haven’t even run a layup drill, and yet CAA already has the foundation in place to run the table in the free-agent summer of 2011, as well. But with a lockout looming and superstars Paul, [Carmelo] Anthony, and to a lesser degree Parker uneasy about their current situations, those plans already are in motion.
Much like what you’ve heard from legends like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and TNT’s Charles Barkley in recent days, this is indeed a different time than the one many of us grew up in.
It’s hard to knock these current stars for taking advantage of relationships (with other stars) that began when they were all barely old enough to drive. They can’t help that they’re of the microwave age and quite a few of us remember when it meant something when someone said it was “made from scratch.” Part of you, however small it might be, has to be impressed that these players are using the power and exerting the control their predecessors either never had or never knew how to use.
But for some of us, including several here at the hideout, we’re seeing the signs of some disturbing times this summer.
It’s a different world we’re all living in now folks.
So you might as well get used to the changes.