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Ex NBAer John Amaechi says it’s not about love of the game

Nov 21, 2011, 3:25 PM EDT

NBA Labor Basketball AP

What’s love got to do with it?

For all the talk of the love of the game by both sides in the NBA lockout (“basketball never stops”), the fans are not feeling that love. Fans do love the game and pay to watch it be played. Right now the owners and players are having raw emotional fights about money and freedom of player movement. That doesn’t feel like love.

Former NBA player John Amaechi was on the Dan Lebatard show last week, primarily to talk about the scandal at his alma mater Penn State. Kevin Arnovitz at TrueHoop watched the interview as it turned to hoops. (As a reminder Amaechi came out as a homosexual after his NBA playing days. He was in no way accused of wrongdoing as part of the Penn State scandal.)

Amaechi talked about the NBA lockout and motivations for players. When asked what he missed most about the NBA he said “the paychecks,” which is a topic Amaechi talked about in his memoir.  And while fans want to think their favorite players take to the court for the love of the game, that is not usually the case.

People who think you need to love something in order to do it don’t understand fundamental human motivation. That’s not how it works. To me, this is one of the huge hypocrisies that sports people perpetrate because it’s good for marketing. It’s this idea that … they convince everybody they love it so much that they’d do it for nothing. And yet nobody does it for nothing. Two leagues have been locked out … and players have agents to make sure that every year they make more, even though what they make is more than anyone can possibly conceive of — what they make in a month is more than anybody can possibly conceive of.

Ask the players right now in the NBA. “If you loved the game, would the season be eroding, knowing that you’re still going to make a gajillion dollars a year?” Really?

There are a lot of players who do love the game, and some who like it. There are players in the NBA who love the lifestyle and money and that is their motivation. In reality, it’s a mixture of all of it for most players — the money and the game and the lifestyle go hand in hand, so they work at their game to keep it all going.

It’s just a reminder not to think of this as love, but to think of this as business. Because in the end that’s what it is — the business of a game, but still business.

  1. mjbulls45 - Nov 21, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    well John its about the money, it always is in life.

  2. rajbais - Nov 21, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    With all due respect to John, the lawyers and agents are truly behind the players not signing the CBA.

    The players DO want to play, but why should the owners get WAY TOO MUCH power when they HAVE set players up for contractual failures (it sounds ridiculous, I know)???

    Franchise owners that don’t have the mindsets for the brand they’re based in just stay in business by being manipulative. There are fast food franchises owned by people who aren’t chefs. So they manipulate the employees. The NBA players get good pay, but the treatment needs to be fair.

    By giving up hundreds of millions of dollars players set themselves up for vulnerability because their owners are idiots and the last time I checked you shouldn’t trust an idiot with such a big task like a NBA franchise!

  3. bozosforall - Nov 21, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    With Amaechi, it was more about “hanging out” with the guys in the locker room.

    • koufaxmitzvah - Nov 21, 2011 at 5:05 PM

      Bozos is letting it all hang out right here. And there is nothing to see.

    • jlinatl - Nov 21, 2011 at 5:44 PM

      I guess my question is “If the job only paide $60,000 per year, how many would still be doing it?”. I suspect it is a pretty high percentage.

      The money is a driver but is not the only one. There is the glory and there is the realization that it beats doing damn near anything else in order to make a living.

      • cosanostra71 - Nov 21, 2011 at 10:35 PM

        $60,000 isn’t all that bad either.

  4. bearsstillsuck - Nov 21, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    of course its about the money, but its also about status symbols and the actual job. anytime you can use the words “play” and “game” when refering to your occupation, you’ve got a good job no matter how much you get paid. the fact they make so much is disgusting, but you can’t blame them for trying to get as much as they can.

  5. stoutfiles - Nov 21, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    I love how Kurt tries to spin a anti-player article into a pro-player article. Are they paying you to love them?

  6. tkels78 - Nov 22, 2011 at 7:44 AM

    Screw you nba I will not be renewing my season tickets next year

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