Player agent Arn Tellum takes issue in Tuesday’s Huffington Post with the NBA’s decision to dock Nate Robinson $25,000 for trade demands made by the diminutive Knicks PG’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, “marking the first time that an athlete has been disciplined for a statement by an agent — in pro basketball, or possibly any other sport.”
Jim Valvano used to swear that he once asked a referee if he could draw a technical foul for thinking bad things about him. The ref said, “Of course not.” So Valvano said, “Well, I think you suck.”
The selective targeting of Robinson – who never even uttered a demand — is inappropriate and unwarranted. Basically, the NBA is using the policy to reign in players it regards as troublemakers. An employee should be allowed to express displeasure with his employer. Why should criticism be solely the prerogative of management? (Coaches are free to denigrate their players — how does that not diminish the NBA product?) And why punish a player for “lowering public opinion” when, in virtually all instances, public trade demand gambits backfire and rally fans to a team’s defense.
Agents demand — it’s what they do. Trade demands are a necessary tool for protecting a client’s interest — and for a sports agent, a client’s interests are paramount. To deny an agent or athlete this basic freedom will only chill free speech and encourage further erosion of player rights. The policy should be vigorously challenged by the players union.
To paraphrase the great Valvano: I think the rule sucks.