When NBA owners talk about contracts being guaranteed for too long, for too much money, and to players who don't deserve them, they're basically talking about formerforward . He of the six-year, $118 million contract back in 2007. But Lewis has a pretty simple counterpoint for all the owners out there.
As he tells Michael Lee of the Washington Post:
Talk to the owner. He gave me the deal. When it comes to contracts, the players aren’t sitting there negotiating that contract. I’m sitting at home and my agent calls me, saying, ‘I got a max on the table.’ I’m not going to sit there and say, ‘Naw, that’s too much. Go out there and negotiate $20 or $30 [million] less.’
As a rebuttal, that's just about perfect. But look closer, and it's a little frustrating.
Plenty of people will see Lewis' honesty as a welcome change of pace from the owners' one-sided rhetoric. But Lewis' reasoning is pretty much identical to that of the owners. As he added:
I thought my agent did a good job of negotiating my contract, and at the time I was coming out of Seattle, averaging 23 points, playing well. It was perfect timing for me,. At the same time, I understand the owners don’t want to overpay players, but you’ve got to do better negotiating. Try your best to save money.
Don't get me wrong; I'm on the players' side in the NBA Lockout. The owners are trying to use a failing economy and a PR war to railroad them into a crappy deal. Hopefully the players will stay strong--as Rashard Lewis points out, it's not the players' fault that owners spend irresponsibly.
But as Rashard Lewis fails to mention: he really has been an absolute disaster for the past three seasons, making a mockery of his max salary along the way. He wasn't just bad; he was pretty much invisible. All while pulling down $21 million a year.
Building the NBA's brand is a shared responsibility, and as bad as it looks when owners blame their terrible decision making on the players, it's just as pathetic when, $80 million later, players blame 4 years of blatant mediocrity on an owner. At that point, the players look every bit as childish and irresponsible as the owners say they are.
The owners may deserve the bulk of the blame for the tenor of this lockout, but stuff like "talk to the owner" makes it just as tough to side with the players. If players can take credit for the growth of the game, they've also got to be honest about the hundreds of millions guys like, , and Rashard Lewis have cost their teams.
Both sides have a responsibility to the fans that's been obscured by self-interest. It's not surprising since these are all humans and all humans are greedy and insecure and that's just life. But let's not get too caught up praising Lewis for echoing the owners in a different octave.
You know what'd it be a real change of pace? If Rashard Lewis had said, "I was overpaid, but I underperformed. Both sides deserve blame, and we've all let the fans down. Let's fix it."
Yeah. When can we do that?