I have seen this process firsthand. When I coached for the Clippers, I had to deal with Michael Olowokandi, a player who perfectly fit the description "talented but uncoachable." At practice, I would attempt to point out Mr. Olowokandi's faults to him, ones he constantly repeated and resulted in lost possessions for the team or personal fouls that sent him to the bench. His reaction to my attempts to correct his bad habits was to take my input as a personal insult and embarrassment. He told me point-blank that he would not be criticized in front of the team. He stuck to his word and, as a result, had very few successful moments on the court playing the way he wanted to play. He took his place on the list of athletically gifted washouts who have been in and out of the league in the past 10 years.
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is right. Michael Olowokandi is one of many ‘athletically, gifted washouts’.
The problems start with the team. Not the players. Too many owners, executives, and coaches pay based on potential.
For instance, how many bigs, like Olowokandi, get $8-10 million per season because they’re big? That’s it. They’ve done nothing. They’ve achieved nothing. But they’re seven-feet, which makes them worthy of a contract that should offend.
Except it doesn’t offend. It’s the norm. Nobody blinks when Andrea Bargnani, Calvin Booth, Kwame Brown, Eddy Curry, Brendan Haywood, Kenyon Martin, Bryant Reeves, Tyrus Thomas, and dozens of other stiffs get theirs.
Or, how about the Washington Wizards bidding against themselves and doling out $111 million over six-years to combo guard Gilbert Arenas, despite The Hibachi having undergone three surgeries on his brittle knees?
There are other absurd contracts. The money, of course, creates entitlement. It’s why Olowokandi believes he's above being coached, even when that coach is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, a former master in the paint, a world champion, and league MVP.
The ‘Skyhook’ is right. The ‘washout’ era needs to end. Hopefully, the new financial system changes the money and power teams give unproven and undeserving players.
Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.