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Friday, June 26, 2015

Draft Night, NBA

Last night was the NBA draft. A solemn, austere ceremony where young men are conscripted to travel to the far corners of the world to serve the common good... Not really, it is a big, splashy gaudy affair. Silly with television cameras, and reporters, all stalking young men whose fortunes are about to change.

It starts when a basketball team is given five minutes to decide which young man they are going to "draft," hand a boat load of cash, and expect a championship to come at his beck and call.

After the decision is made they tell the NBA commissioner, a man whose name escapes me, but it is not David Stern, he was the last guy.  The commissioner (for the sake of convenience we will call him Not David Stern) comes out and announces the choice solemnly and with the tone of a man delivering important news to a shaken, frightened nation, "With the 6th pick in the draft the (insert team name here) have chosen (insert young man's name here).

And then a young man, in a suit,  comes up and puts on a baseball hat, and kind of shakes hands, and kind of hugs (it is a modern version of a hand shake, and one I have never been able to master) Not David Stern. It is an odd picture, these very tall, young, athletic, men hugging this aging, short, bald man, somehow it seems as though it might be from a mafia movie.

Then, a panel of experts, some of whom played basketball, and some of whom studied journalism, talk about why it was such a good pick. There are a lot of technical terms, "wing span" and "shooting
range" "length" and "physicality." And then this panel of "experts" started rating them, "he could be a three, or a four." It seemed so insensitive, and cruel...  Just kidding, it was just the position they would play on the basketball team.

Today, the real work will begin, an agent, employed by the young athlete, will meet with lawyers representing the team's owners and begin negotiating the terms of employment.

Normally, it will start with the team's owners representatives saying something along the lines of "we would like the young man you are representing to accept this ridiculously large pile of cash, and come play basketball in our fine city."

Not to be outmaneuvered, the agent who is representing the young man will retort. "We couldn't possibly accept that much money. This player has never played a minute of basketball at this level, please accept our counter offer of this still large, but somewhat smaller pile of cash."... Not really,sooner or later they agree on a number that seems enormous to most people and the deal is made.

Just a disclaimer, I have always agreed with the sentiment expressed by Joseph Heller's character, Milo Minderbinder in that fantastic account of life in the modern world "Catch 22, "it is never a sin to tax as much as the traffic will bear."  So, if the owners can charge enough to pay the athletes that much it is fine with me.  I toast their success, and wish them the best.