Paul George Leaving? That’s a shame. Any baseball games on TV today?

I’m not sure what to make of all the outrage over Paul George leaving the Indiana Pacers. If you don’t follow the NBA in general or the Pacers in particular, George will be a free agent at the end of the 2017-2018 season. A few days before the NBA draft, his agent informed the Pacers that he will not sign with the team after his current contract expires and he wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers in his home state.

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He didn’t say he was holding out. He didn’t say he wasn’t going to play hard. He didn’t say he hates living in Indiana. But the internets went nuts. One sporting goods store gave away all of their Paul George jerseys. People posted video of flaming PG jerseys online, and his basketball ability was suddenly considered “third-rate”, and there was a lot of “good riddance, we don’t need him” on Facebook.

I don’t claim to be a huge NBA fan. I go to two or three games a year when I get free or reduced-price tickets. I watch them on TV occasionally. At least up until college basketball starts. Then I watch them after the NCAA tournament until major league baseball begins. So maybe I shouldn’t expect to understand the anger from die-hard fans.

Spoiler alert: that doesn’t keep me from having an opinion. So here goes:

Paul George is a temporary employee of Indiana Pacers, Inc. As such, he’s looking out for himself, just like Pacers, Inc. protects its own interests every time they sign a contract. Did the Pacers give him a lifetime contract or pay him more than he asked for out of loyalty? Of course not. They’re a business trying to make a profit. They will pay a player as little as possible so they can pay other good players to improve their team and win. To make money. Not for the greater glory of the state of Indiana; to make money.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. But neither is there anything wrong with Paul George trying to get what he wants, whether it’s more money or winning an NBA championship, or just getting paid to play for his hometown team.

People around here like to lionize Reggie Miller because he spent his whole career with the Pacers. They seem to forget that, at one point, Reggie was making noises about wanting to play in New York. He also didn’t take long to list his Indianapolis home for sale and move back to California after he retired.

It’s fun to pull for professional teams, and I understand how easy it is to identify with great players and start to imagine that they owe loyalty to a team, a city, to us. But the fact is, loyalty has to be a two-way street. Otherwise, one of the parties is being played for a chump. So good luck to PG, both this season and the rest of his career. And good luck to the Pacers.

But not to the Lakers. I hate those guys.

                                                                           *****

The NCAA has announced penalties imposed on the University of Louisville basketball program as a result of stripper-gate. The University will have to pay a bunch of money, and the NCAA will vacate their 2013 National championship along with their wins from 2010-2014 and their 2012 Final Four. The program will be on probation for four years and Head Coach Rick Pitino is suspended for the first five games of the 2017-18 season.

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The University – currently led by an interim president since the idiot governor fired the prior president and the entire board of trustees – has vowed to appeal the penalties, believing they were excessive. Pitino has sent a letter to boosters asking them to keep their chins up (and, presumably, keep donating) and trust the appeals process.

I really don’t understand this strategy. Seems to me it’d be more effective to blow up the program and start over immediately with a new AD and new coach. But maybe the interim president has been told he’s not really in charge. Pitino is doing what Pitino does, which is aggressively promote himself. But as long as he’s there, the program will be a punchline and treated like Exhibit A in What’s Wrong With College Sports in Particular and America in General.

 

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