Wednesday , Sep , 29 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Two Words Every Player Should Know

When I was in high school, I learned something to keep myself out of trouble: keep quiet. Apparently, Vince Carter and Peja Stojakovic never learned this when they were in high school.

They apparently never realized that you could learn something from breaking up with a girlfriend as well. Recently, both of these players made headlines when they came straight out and demanded a trade. By saying “trade me,” they leave nothing to the imagination for the fans. Beyond a doubt, every fan knows that this player wants to leave their city. Of course, this does not sit well with us. It can be argued that most professional athletes carry a negative image with the fans. For us who pay for increasing ticket prices, we view most athletes as greedy, overpaid crybabies. By saying something like “trade me,” these players just reinforce this image.

Two Words Every Player Should Know

I should also mention that it is not entirely the player’s fault when they demand a trade. There is always this adversarial relationship a player has with management: the player wants maximum dollar while management wants to pay him minimum dollars. I’m not naïve enough to believe that management is honest with the player. I’m sure broken promises and sneaky loopholes have their presence in the negotiating table. But seriously, does it need to come out in public? What does a player hope to possibly achieve by publicly demanding a trade? Has there ever been an instance where he doesn’t get portrayed as a bad guy? Although fans might suspect that management did not offer a player the greatest contract, it’s so much easier to blame the player and his greed.

Contract negotiations can also be compared with breaking up with a loved one. Similar to a contract negotiation, working on a relationship requires a lot of talk. When one feels that the relationship is in trouble, there needs to be a negotiation. Trade-offs, promises, incentives, and sometimes even a third party (arbitrator): all these things are usually required in order to determine one party’s future.

Now comes the important part: after countless failed attempts, it is official – the relationship can never be resurrected. Two parties cannot see eye to eye on key issues. It is time for the breakup.

Personally, I think that breaking up quietly is the best way to go. By saying “things did not work out” or “we have different plans in the future”, you leave an area of doubt and ambiguity that leaves both sides in a reasonable light with the fans. To break up by yelling “I want out”, this only leaves a winner and a loser. Usually, the one that “wants out” is called the loser, since they seem to be the one jumping ship. Jumping ship…you mean, you won’t stay and work on this? You don’t want to be a part of the team?

Sacramento has announced that they have no intention of trading Peja, and the Raptors have followed suit with Vince. How awkward will this be between these players and their teammates? Both these guys have also been automatically entered for the “Boo-A-Rama” during player introductions.

If you have not figured it out, the two words every player should know in the NBA are: keep quiet. Even when you are having trouble with front office, keep quiet with the fans. They do not need to know. Rumors are just that: rumors. There is so much more to lose than gain by airing out your garbage. There is also the element of class; the phrase “I demand a trade” screams superstar diva. Correction: superstar divas without a championship ring. You can speak when you have the rings to back it up.