“There is no such thing as hip hop music!” – Will Strickland, U.N.I.T.Why?: Why Hip Hop Culture Is The World’s Culture, Harris Institute – Toronto
What the Hell is going on here? You’re supposed to be writing about basketball, right?!?
Hop on this train of thought… It’s a good ride.
Misinformation can be a dangerous thing. For some, it may even be useful.
Today, we’ll deal with misnomers: one about hip hop and the other about sports business.
The opening quote above was rendered after years of work as a senior level executive in the music industry as well as years spent as an educator who created and taught the world’s first university-accredited course on hip hop culture at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
It is also a result of a long standing friendship with an all-time great, Lawrence Krisna Parker.
You might know him better as Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone.
If you take the first letters of what I just typed, you can spell his name: KRS-One, who once said “Rap Is Something You Do; Hip Hop is Something You Live!”
In a similar fashion, the same adage seems applicable for the men and women who have chosen Dr. Naismith’s invention as their vocation.
Perception and Reality.
The idea of loyalty in sports business is a fan construct, crafted by owners and media.
Charles Barkley has the average fan believing that what they feel matters with his suggesting that Adam Silver and the NBA do something about teams resting players, most of whom are healthy scratches from the lineup.
It’s one thing for the Cavs to rest LeBron James, who has played more basketball in the past several years than any man on the planet, though Barkley disagrees with resting the face of the league during road games. It’s another thing altogether for perennial cellar dwellers to rest their best players… ever.
Any sanctioned changes as to how teams manage their personnel in regard to fan discomfort will be eluded/masked with the 24-Hour Jordan/Kobe/LeBron Flu or a vague x unspecified “upper/lower body injury”.
Purchasing a ticket to an NBA game guarantees you to see the teams. There is absolutely zero guarantee with the ticket you copped that you’ll see your favourite player ply his trade on one of the finest in hardwood courts across The Association.
Many event tickets are affixed with “subject to change” clauses, generally in the fine print on the back of the ticket. This clause indemnifies the NBA and the teams, fans be damned. For this reason, no matter the level of bitching and moaning, legally, fans have no real recourse if someone is rested on purpose.
No substitutes. No refunds. No nothing. #StayMad
Social media has allowed fans to connect so intimately and directly with players that it has also engendered for many an odd sense of ownership and entitlement. Fans can tweet, snapchat, vine and Facebook whine about EVERYTHING while thinking they can have it both ways.
“You see how much I paid for this damn ticket! Meyers Leonard better be playing tonight or ELSE!” then you get “Maaaaaannn, Leonard got dragged in the playoffs! I knew Stotts should have rested him against the Kings at the end of the regular season.”
This conditioning has been fostered under the guise of ‘the fan experience’. Ticket holders and League Pass subscribers alike may even begin to believe these athletes owe them and their favourite team something outside of their efforts on the playing surface.
And forget just playing for their squads. If or when a player leaves for new opportunities, by choice or by force, in the hearts and minds of many a fan, this convoluted notion of honour and dedication to team, and by extension, city/state/country, the athletes are somehow bound.
These Pros Ain’t Loyal!
Now everybody wanna play for the heat and the Lakers? Let’s go back to being competitive and going at these peoples!
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) July 16, 2010
As Russell Westbrook was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame last week, replete with an appearance and introduction from Michael Jordan, you got served again, Fan.
“Another thing you guys should be proud of is the sense of loyalty this kid has shown,” said the majority owner of the Hornets. “He could’ve easily come to Charlotte. But he decided to stay here in Oklahoma.”
“I’m not here to try and bash anybody that’s not here. Everybody has a choice. I’m not saying everybody doesn’t have a choice. But when I saw he chose to stay in Oklahoma I was so proud, and as Clay [Bennett] knows and Russ know, I texted him to show a sense of respect.”
Any guess where Jordan’s loyalties rest? His annual profit and loss statements. Because the face of his Nike line is led by Westbrook now, with apologies of Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler, it behoves MJ to support Russ. And you, the fan, need to keep buying Jordan Brand releases because well… He’s Michael Jeffrey Jordan.
But he is also an owner in the NBA, loyal to fellow owners like Clay Bennett, who promised to keep the then-Supersonics in Seattle, only to move the team to Oklahoma City after his smoke and mirrors play to stay loyal to those fans in the Pacific Northwest was revealed. Bennett is loath to paying a luxury or repeater tax. His loyalty to his bottom line is one of the primary reasons why the core of Westbrook, Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka, James Harden and one Kevin Wayne Durant never won a title together.
Others might disagree.
So while Green toils on his fifth team in ten seasons, teaming with Ibaka in Orlando, Harden vies for the MVP trophy in Houston and Durant deflects questions about the strength of his heart and resolve in Oakland, because he couldn’t spell ‘choke’ without the OKC, either.
And you can’t spell ‘fanatic’ without the F-A-N, who has been sold a bill of goods on what ‘loyalty’ truly is.
You are just as complicit in the deception as the owners and media, as you buy your jerseys and collect your bobbleheads.
“There is nowhere else I’d rather be than Oklahoma,” said Westbrook. “When I had an opportunity to be able to be loyal to you guys, that was the No. 1 option. And loyalty is something I stand by.”
In 2019, Westbrook will be 31, with 11 years of service in the Association.
Give thanks that you have him now, Oklahoma.
His address is subject to change, perhaps maybe not by his own volition
Then, to whom and what will you stay ‘loyal’?
Until next time, Spread Love…
It’s The Strickland Way!