More than a few sports fans are looking to NBA players to help them out of their funk. Sure, a weekly NASCAR race is fine if watching 70,000 left turns is your thing. And there have been periodic UFC cards, too, for those who enjoy action in an octagon that would lead to arrests on the street.
But the team sports are different. Basketball and baseball, with games every day that feature the favorite local teams, are on the verge of starting up again. And the fans are ready to embrace them.
But what if the players turn out to be jerks? ESPN basketball analyst Jay Williams fired a warning shot at “tone-deaf” NBA players over the weekend over their whiny behavior.
NBA players have a different life than most
The number is skewed by Stephen Curry’s $40.2 million, the $38.5 million apiece for Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul, and a bunch of other eight-figure deals, but the average NBA salary this season is $7.7 million, according to CNBC.
Certainly, the demands on players are high. Firstly, you have to be among the top 500 or so players in the world to make an NBA roster. Secondly, an 82-game regular season followed by interminable playoffs is a long grind. The travel and practice schedules add to that grind, and career-threatening injuries are always a possibility.
However, that all needs to be balanced against first-class hotel accommodations, team charters, and an army of support staff that includes nutritionists, physical therapists, and sometimes even sports psychologists.
Jay Williams of ESPN lived that life for a season nearly two decades ago before a motorcycle accident ended his career. And now he’s warning current players that they may be forgetting just how good they have it.
Bursting the NBA bubble, one offense at a time
NBA players started reporting to Disney World in Florida last week to resume practice for a season scheduled to re-start at the end of the month. Complaints started almost immediately, which is what has Jay Williams worried.
J.R. Smith, who signed with the Los Angeles Lakers this month, took to Instagram to complain about the food, the accommodations, and even the snack options in players’ rooms. He made some sort of analogy to cars and how the league was treating its Ferraris like Chryslers.
Not long afterward, Smith said it had been suggested that he dial it back on social media, though it didn’t stop teammate Rajon Rondo from announcing that the hotel rooms were only on par with Motel 6.
And then there are the guys who are having trouble following the rules. Sacramento Kings forward Richaun Holmes revealed that he had gone into quarantine after it had been determined he left the bubble to make a food run. That will put his more than a week behind his teammates in preparation.
Houston Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo was also sent to quarantine after venturing beyond the bubble boundaries.
Jay Williams rips ‘tone-deaf’ NBA players
ESPN basketball analyst Jay Williams posted a video on social media over the weekend in which he told NBA players to stop being “tone-deaf” while living and working in what he termed a “billion-dollar bubble.” Williams’ rationale was that the plan for the bubble was devised to keep players safe from the same COVID-19 pandemic that is inescapable for a lot of ordinary people.
“If you want to complain about the anxieties you have from COVID-related issues, I get it. Complain about that. We all have the right to complain about that,” Williams said. “But when I hear NBA guys complaining about living facilities, food that they have being delivered to them, it is tone-deaf. It is tone-deaf. We need to think about people who are every-day working people who are making minimum wage, trying to make ends meet, that are going to factories, that are going to really harsh working environments, where, if anything, maybe their employers are doing less to ensure their safety because they’re trying to increase the bottom line.”
Williams reminded players that they’re getting paid for whatever relatively minor hardships that they’ve endured for less than a week. A lot of other people across the country aren’t as fortunate.
“That bothers me, Williams said. “That bothers me.”