In the past, NBA players either didn’t have a say or didn’t say anything at all when under contract. Like a normal 9 to 5 job, you get up, head to work, do what you’re told to do, and leave. Whether it’s a trade, a player signing, or a player getting cut, It went by the front office of that organization.
Recently shown in the film series ‘The Last Dance’ in the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls season, tension was at a all time high. A feud between Bulls GM, Jerry Krause, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. However, mainly involved Krause and Pippen between a contract dispute due to Pippen being underpaid.
This ultimately started the chain reaction of the “Last Dance” for this Bulls roster. Krause devoted to rebuild the chicago bulls by not returning coach, Phil Jackson, which led to Jordan retiring, and Pippen signing a big contract for Houston.
It’s Astonishing how one of the best duos in NBA history who won six championships had little to no control of their future, along with the decisions of the front office.
The NBA has changed dramatically in this regard. Player empowerment is big in today’s NBA. What this means is that players, especially stars on their team, can influence their career, front office decisions, etc. players have a lot of control even under contract.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Lebron James, who is one of the best the world has ever witnessed, has been a part of front office decisions for his entire career. Many who have heard the nickname “LeGM” knows it’s for a very good reason.
The 17 time all-star throughout his career has proven to influence team decisions to improve his team. Lebron wanted Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves to help him win a championship in Cleveland. After a year with the Lakers, James pushed to trade in the chips of a young core of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart, for forward Anthony Davis.
It doesn’t stop here, NBA star player’s demand trades so frequently nowadays. Star players can end up holding out which can cost teams success, money, and reputation especially if a player doesn’t like someone in their organization. Notable players such as Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, and Ben Simmons.
We’ve come to a point where even rumors of Zion Williamson, dissatisfied with his team who is still on his rookie contract.
This puts pressure on GMs and owners on how to treat their players or else deal with the consequence of losing their franchise player.