There's nothing worse that can happen to a fan than when that fan's favorite player...gets traded to a bad team.
I remember back in the late 90’s, before the Thunder emerged on the scene, when my favorite team was the Seattle SuperSonics. (I always said that when my hometown team received a pro team, my allegiances would switch) During that time the Sonics were the fast-breaking, high-flying, wheeling and dealing squad of the 90’s. In my childhood, The reasons why I loved the Sonics were because my family was from there, I thought the uniforms were dope, and one of my two favorite players (one being Reggie Miller) was the main attraction...
...that man, was Shawn Kemp.
Back in 1997, one year after the Sonics made a run at the finals against the Dynasty Bulls, the emergence (or lack there of) of a 6’11” big man from Washington named Jim McIlvane landed on the Sonics. The Sonics needed size, and dude was 6’11”, and for whatever reason...pundits and prognosticators billed Jimmy Mac as "The Shaq Stopper". (Note: Can we think of any person who was considered the "Insert player here"-stopper that actually stopped them?) Anyway, McIvane proceeded to average something like 2 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game for the season. Then the headline broke out of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in the off-season…
The Sonics and Jim McIlvane have agreed to a 7-year/$34 million contract extension.
You see, this within itself doesn’t seem like a big deal, however the spillover from giving a no-name, no-talent, good-for-nothing stiff like McIlvane $35 million is that the rest of the players on the team look at that and say, “Well damn, if this dude is getting $35 million….then I better get my paper at the end!”
For Shawn Kemp, who was at the height of his superpowers and who was THE FRANCHISE of the Sonics organization, never got his paper from the Sonics organization. (Note: I truly believe that this mismanagement caused the basketball gods to eventually have the Sonics relocate.)
The fear struck the Sonics management and the thought of the Sonics not being able to re-sign Kemp caused one of the most despicable trades I’ve ever seen. The Sonics executed a three-team trade with the Cavs and Bucks, sending Terrell Brandon to the Bucks, Vin Baker to the Sonics, and Shawn Kemp to the...Cleveland...Cavaliers. This trade would also be known as "the day three all-stars careers ended" as none of them were ever any good ever again.
Shawn Kemp's career in particular was never the same again. Reign Man at that point in time was arguably the best four in the game, better than Karl Malone. The man put on about 30 pounds after the trade, had his run-ins with the baby mama's, and he literally ate and boned his way out of the league. Say what you want about Blake Griffin, Amare Stoudemire, and any other young gun whose laced 'em up and from an early age electrified the crowd...no one had more juice than the Reign Man. Seattle never made it past the 2nd-round of the playoffs after that, and Cleveland was still Cleveland...only with ugly ass jerseys.
This entire thought process went through my mind as I landed in New York City yesterday, oblivious to all the basketball shenanigans that had took place since flying the friendly skies. As soon as I touched down, my phone starts blowing up with text messages and such. The messages all said the same thing...
"DERON WILLIAMS TO THE NETS?????????? WTF!!!"
Verbatim. (Kinda...maybe a few more question marks and a lot more cuss words)
As soon as I read the news, there was only one person to call. A man whose been a Stanley of Deron Williams since I met him at the Kerr Beach party at UNT 5 years ago, a man who's followed the career of Deron's since he was at The Colony hooping it up, a man who's defended his honor like Johnnie Cochran did for OJ back in '95...Kenny Masenda.
Ed: Say man just landed in NYC, need to ask you something...
Ken: What up?
Ed: Just got numerous text messages about Deron Will...
Ken: I don't even want to talk about it, I'm going to start cussing again and I don't need my blood pressure ran up.
Ken: (grumbling and random cursing)
Ed: Aight man, I'm gonna get back with you.
That's what Deron Williams going to the Nets will do to a man whose favorite player has been traded away to Parts Unknown, to the Bermuda Triangle, Krakatoa, Siberia, Purgatory, Death Valley, or Newark, New Jersey.
As great of a trade it is for the Nets, no one knows how this thing is going to shake out. Deron Williams is arguably the best point guard in the league, and now the Nets are hoping another uber-yella elite point guard can save them from the abyss and bring them back to the promised land. Is this going to work? Who knows? Will Kenny ever be able to see his favorite player on television ever again? Only if the Lakers and the Heat are playing the Nets, and then maybe he'll have to stay up until 11pm just to watch.
There's nothing fair in the world of a sports fan, the only thing you can do is be loyal or die. Your loyalty is all you have as a fan, and by having your favorite player mixed into a Molotov cocktail of sorts by the Ivan Drago of owners (double dose of Russian verbiage right there, you like that?) who knows how this is going to work out.
It didn't work for Shawn Kemp and my fandom, and I can admit that. I forgot Shawn Kemp existed while he played for Cleveland, and he deserved better. I don't believe Deron will fall into the same fate (Because you know...Deron actually works out and is married. Okay, let me stop now...) as Kemp, but its an unsettling time as a fan. Stay strong Brother Masenda, hopefully good times lay ahead.
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!