The NBA has a Superstar Sensitivity Problem

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Recently, while listening to all the NBA podcasts I do, I have found myself being a bit irritated at how sensitive some star players in the league have become over the past decade. Now, I have to say at the top, I have no ill will for these guys wanting to go win titles, get paid and have fun playing the game. While I may not like "super teams", and I think the money is absurdly high among all professional sports, again, I have no problem with these guys doing what they want to do. They're human and allowed to lead the lives they want to live. But, I also think they should know, or at the very least expect, that they are going to be in the spotlight, and that a good amount of people are going to root against them for doing such things, and then going to the media, or their front office, to complain or demand a trade.

This irritation for me it all started with the Kristaps Porzingis trade. When it happened I was flummoxed. I wrote about it. I trashed the Knicks. But, about a week after the trade stories started to come out that Porzingis went to the front office and griped about the direction of the team. He complained that he had no help. Okay, fine, but have you played all year Porzingis? In fact, I don't think you've played a game in almost 2 years. So, while you want to be on a competitive team, that needs to start with you actually playing. You can moan and groan all you want, but you aren't even playing. In fact, I'd like to see you go a full season without getting hurt just once. Then, if you do that,, and lead a team to a conference finals, go ahead and complain all you want. Until then, don't yearn for things when you haven't really proved anything yet.

Then the Anthony Davis trade demand came out. I have been highly critical of this. This was done all wrong. From Davis' demand while still under contract for the rest of this season and all of next season, to Rich Paul leaking it to Adrian Wojnaworski before Davis could tell the Pelicans front office, to the handling of the Lakers offer, it has been a cluster. This has been a disaster all around. A GM lost his job over this. Davis, who up until now was beloved, is almost becoming a villain. When he did come back from his "injury", the Pelicans fans booed him. Then he decided to leave a game after trying to block a shot, and left the building, with Rich Paul. Now, he is going to be on LeBron's show, "The Shop", and he is also talking about his love for all things LA. He is handling this awfully. He is going to get traded to some team not in LA, other teams can offer so much more for the Pelicans future, and I blame it partially on him. He is talking to media, but saying stuff like, "all 29 teams are on my list", or, "I just want to win". Sure, that may sound nice, but the "29 teams" thing is a slap in New Orleans face, and the winning is nonsense. He wants to be in LA, and he wants to play with LeBron. If he just came out and said that, I would respect him so much more. But no, he is trying to be coy.

Then we have KD's endless fight with the media and journalists. Prior to the All Star break he chided a journalist who simply asked him about his impending free agency and New York. A very simple, non threatening question, right? Well, KD took this way, way too seriously and painted a very broad brush basically saying that all journalists are out to get him. KD needs to calm the hell down. Ever since he left the Thunder to ride on the Warriors coattails, he has become a curmudgeon, and it doesn't fit him. He is a hell of a player, one of the greats, but his whole "heel" turn is off putting. I mean, the journalist was just doing his job. If anyone should understand that it should be a guy like KD. He has changed so much, for the worse, since he signed with Golden State.

Then we have the Kyrie Irving interview yesterday of him chastising another journalist that simply asked him about the video that leaked of him and KD talking in the tunnel during the All Star game. Now, I do think people are making far, far too much of a video of 2 buddies talking, but for Kyrie to say that "you guys are making the league not fun" is a little much. Again, this person is just doing their job. You'd think, just like in KD's case, he would understand that. But nope, he just went off and said some crazy stuff. He is a super star, and the media is going to ask him questions like this. That is how they get people to come to their websites and read their stuff. While you think you may be winning, and knocking that person down a peg, you are actually helping them by going off like that.

Then last night I read a headline that said that James Harden is upset that his peers are critical of the way he plays the game. Newsflash Harden, you are a bore to watch. Again, you are a magnificent scorer, one of the best ever, but the way you do it is a slog. You foul hunt. You slow the game down. You shoot too many free throws, and you gripe to the officials too much. It is so boring to watch. You are my least favorite player to watch, and I know for a fact that I am not alone. A lot of people do not like to watch you play, and that most definitely includes your peers. Get over it. You are great.

It is frustrating to hear these multi millionaire super star players gripe about people calling them out for their sometime childish behavior. I mean, do you think Jordan cared what his peers or journalists said? How about Charles Barkley? Or maybe Hakeem Olajuwon or Shaq? They didn't give a shit. They just went out and played. Hell, there are even current stars that could care less what the media or other pro players say. Look at Russell Westbrook. He could care less what anyone thinks of him. Or Jimmy Butler. I may not like the way he handled his exit from Minnesota, but he never chastised the media for the way they handled it. In fact he did an interview for ESPN and Rachel Nichols on exactly why he wanted out. Joel Embiid doesn't give one shit what the media or Russell Westbrook says about him. Kawhi Leonard just continues to not talk, and that may be the best way to handle all this. And then we have Giannis. Could this kid be any cooler? Could he be more loved? Could he be more fun? Giannis is the best for so many reasons. He loves to play the game, he is a great interview, his teammates and the front office love him, and when questions of his impending free agency in 2021 come up, he takes the Kawhi approach and is silent. These are the dudes I respect. These are the dudes that handle it correctly. 

That is the point of my old man ranting. Some of these young star are far too thin skinned. They need to get over it. We need less Kristaps or KD's and more Kawhi's and Giannis' in the league right now. They know how to deal with all this stuff so much better.


Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on the internet. 

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