Aug 6, 2011, 10:30 PM EDT
Step carefully, children. We’re near the edge of a dangerous ledge.
So NBA players not tipping is not a breaking story. It’s been talked about for ages. Fairly often it comes with certain racial implications that are fairly well documented (or at least claims thereof have been). But instead of going down that road, let’s start with how this is currently relevant. On Jason Whitlock of FoxSports.com’s podcast, a well-respected Las Vegas columnist shared the following story, as quoted by IamaGM.com:
“People at the Cosmopolitan said when Chris Paul had his bachelor party here last month, he had LeBron in and the whole gang. They were comped well into the morning. The word is that they never left a tip for any night that they were out getting comped. We’ve heard that about LeBron, that’s been common. I’m sure you’ve heard the nicknames that Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen had out here. The dealers called him “Hoardin’ Jordan”, and Pippen was “Scottie No-tippin’ Pippen”.
So that’s fun.
There’s no point in getting into the racial implications, because this is a basketball blog and I’m not a well-tenured professor on race relations in this country, plus I’m definitely not here to make any sort of high and mighty or insightful headway using this ridiculously stupid topic that could be inaccurate. From a practical perspective, even if the racial implications did create a cultural divide based on an income gap, you would think that would be somewhat effected by the millions and millions (and millions) of dollars these guys started making when they were 18-21. They make so much that to tip, even at a standard rate of 20% for meals and however you determine drink tips (I always heard a buck per drink plus 10% on the tab, but then, I drink in tiny, terrible bars that usually have Natty Light on tap), isn’t going to so much as phase them. Money means nothing to them, that’s pretty obvious from their lifestyle and approach to spending (they’re not wasteful, but we can tell from media reports these guys like to have a good time). So then there’s this question.
Do they not tip because it’s an ethical decision, or is simply a case of oversight and being inconsiderate?
You’ll remember Mr. Pink from the Quentin Tarantino classic “Reservoir Dogs” not tipping out of principle. It was his contention that it’s the service staff member’s choice to work in that profession, and that they shouldn’t be rewarded extra simply for doing their job. It should be noted that in all likelihood Mr. Pink is shot at the end of the film. I believe this is what LeBron James would refer to as “karma.” Is it the case that James, Anthony, and Wade, who are treated like gods nearly everywhere they go, who are waited on hand and foot, really don’t tip because they don’t feel it’s right? Or is it more likely a simple oversight wrought of arrogance? You have to think it’s the latter.
Even if there was an ethical reason for the players not to provide a reasonable tip, it would be overshadowed by the sheer amount of money they have and the service they demand. But maybe that’s the key here. What if the service really was that bad? What if they did not receive the sterling personal attention they were expecting?
Even still, a small tip should probably be considered. Maybe they just thought it was added onto the bill. In that case, shouldn’t you leave something additional anyway, considering the amount of time and attention your party no doubt drew?
One more thing. The idea that this is an NBA-general thing is definitively not true in my experience. A few years ago I spoke with the waitstaff at the Cheesecake Factor at Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas (I was broke and in Las Vegas for work, this is what you end up doing). The staff there told me how Rasheed Wallace would routinely eat at the bar while his wife shopped and that he always tipped exceptionally well. Same story for Shaquille O’Neal, and Donte Greene. Kobe Bryant is known to be a decent tipper as well. So it’s not everyone. But these guys, apparently, are the exception.
This should help James and Wade’s public opinion greatly.
Also, who doesn’t tip at a bachelor party? Seriously, guys. It’s a bachelor party. You’re supposed to show off and be nice to everyone because you’re acting like morons.