Feb 28, 2010, 10:00 AM EDT
Contraction has always been kind of a sore subject for the NBA, the threat of a team folding into nothingness permanently hanging over commissioner David Stern as a worst-case-scenario for the league amidst a sea of ailing franchises. Heat forward LeBron James, never one to overthink his comments, weighed in on the subject recently, hypothesizing that taking some of the better players from dismal teams like the Timberwolves and Nets and sprinkling them throughout the sport’s better teams would ultimately be good for the league.
Or did he? Despite his comments, LeBron balked at the use of the C-word, saying “I had no idea what the word ‘contraction’ meant before I saw it on the Internet…I never even mentioned that. That word never even came out of my mouth. I was just saying how the league was back in the ’80s and how it could be good again. I never said, ‘Let’s take some of the teams out.”
True, those words never did come directly out of LeBron’s mouth, and indeed, he even clarified at the time that wasn’t “saying let’s take New Jersey and let’s take Minnesota out of the league.” With all the recent supergroup hype around LeBron and his new band of merry men in Miami, LBJ was likely just trying to strike another blow for his cause by suggesting that an NBA consisting primarily of such teams would be something of a basketball utopia.
Still, it’s never going to make the league and its powers that be feel good to hear its signature player attempting to play God with the sport’s teams and general power structure. Besides, LeBron should probably be able to anticipate a backlash from those cities whose teams he mentioned as potential contractees–if for no other reason than just simple pattern recognition, as just about everything James has done this past half-year has inspired a backlash for one reason or another. Just bad form if you ask me.
LeBron might need to take a lesson or two out of the Rasheed Wallace and Randy Moss schools of media evasiveness. Hey, both of those guys are in their soon-to-be permanent off-seasons by now, right? Let the training begin.
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