Jerry West will be 80 in two years, but the decades have done little too soften his competitive spirit. As one of the various high-level recruiters the Golden State Warriors deployed to woo Kevin Durant, West was reportedly critical in closing the deal. Adam Silver criticized the deal, more or less diplomatically, but still managed to include the phrase “not ideal”, which are roundly considered fighting words for above-the-fray Commissioners. Of course, it’s in his interest to decry this sort of deal, as the creation of super-teams is a blow to the idealized level playing field the league wants to pretend can exist.
When Silver promised to fix the broken system that allowed the Warriors to sign Durant in the first place, a certain Logo took umbrage, and apparently rang the Commissioner up to tell him he was being a little baby. Here’s what West recently told Tim Kawakami on The TK Show, courtesy of CBS Sports’ Zach Harper.
“It’s sour grapes,” West said. “We signed Shaquille O’Neal and it wasn’t as big an uproar as this. Listen, the owners make the rules. They negotiate with the players. And for them to say something like that, to me it’s wrong on their part. The commissioner said something like that and I called him about it. I told him I didn’t think the comment was fair. It’s not fair to Kevin. It’s not fair to the Warriors. It’s not fair to any team going forward who will sign a free agent of this stature. The players bargained for this. They have a chance to go play where they want to. I only wish I had that opportunity in my career and I’m sure a lot of other people felt the same way.”
Short of enforcing a draconian measure in which each small-market team gets to keep their homegrown superstars forever and ever (if they are lucky enough to draft one, that is), the rich and powerful will always have the upper hand in the NBA. Rhode Island never gets to invade California and Vermont will never beat Texas in a best-of-seven series.
The system in place is far from perfect (the owners still make too much money, for one thing), but the Warriors did nothing untoward in their pursuit of Kevin Durant. And Jerry West, who went 1-8 in nine trips to the Finals, knows more than most when it’s time to seize an opportunity and perhaps that’s why Adam Silver’s boo-hoo posturing sat so poorly with him.