I’ve been meaning to post on how absurd it was to suspend Monta Ellis for thirty games since last week. This suspension, of course, isn’t even really a suspension, yet a $3 million fine, as Monta will be rehabbing well into the New Year and not suiting up for at least that long anyway.
Yes, he technically breached his contract by riding a moped and then lied to the team after he fell off said moped and wrecked his ankle, but did such foolishness really warrant pissing off and potentially alienating the 23-year-old tweener you just made the face of Warrior nation when you gave him a $66 million contract this summer?
I’m sure Monta knows what he did was wrong. And there certainly should have been some recourse against the kid for his actions and the fibbing…but wouldn’t have ten games (by my math, a $1 million fine) been enough?
Whether or not Monta and his agent will appeal the suspension remains up in the air (via Slam) but, regardless of if he does or does not file a grievance, I don’t think it’s a lofty assumption that Monta is in no way happy about losing $3 million. I suppose it is sort of a sad statement about the state of the NBA to assume he may be immature enough to own up to actions and take the fine like a man…but does anyone really think that’s his state of mind right now?
Ultimately, $3 million is a small percentage of the $66 million he has coming to him, so let’s hope he takes the noble route and rehabs just as hard as he would otherwise. But considering how minor that figure is to a billionaire team owner, it seems like an awfully bold — and foolhardy — move to hope he doesn’t just Tim Thomas his way through the next half-decade. (Usage Note: Throughout most of its history in English, “Tim Thomas” was used only as a noun, describing the given name of a 20th Century NBA basketball player. Around the 2001-02 NBA season, it began to be used in hoops articles and NBA blogs as a verb, meaning “to phone in an entire NBA contract and ostensibly decide that you care much more about being a filthy rich, twenty-something millionaire than any sort of legacy you might have as a professional athlete” as in Looks like Tim Thomas pulled another fast one when he Tim Thomased it again in Los Angeles. This poetic, verb usage has since become so well entrenched generally that many people have come to consider it as the only correct use.)
Maybe six-year guaranteed contracts are a problem in the League and should be addressed in the next CBA if guys can’t be counted on to man up and play through them regardless of circumstances (and, by the way, I’m not insinuating Monta is any more apt to behave this way than anyone else his age/income bracket in this League would). But until that happens, G-State is playing a dangerous game.
To me, all that just seemed to make logical sense — especially when you factor in the corrosive possibilities the whole thing could have on other team members and presumed friends like, say, Stephen Jackson, who we know “rides together.”
But now, as El Duderino would say, new shit has come to light, man.
I suppose it’s been apparent that there were some problems brewing in Oaktown’s front office, but today’s scathing accounts from Fear the Beard and Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie certainly make a decision that seemed a little foolish seem even more scary for Warrior fans.
Not only that, but Golden State exec Robert Rowell is coming off as the organization’s financial hatchet-man, bent on minimizing expenditures wherever possible, even if that means inexplicably vetoing a $39 million/3 year extension for Baron Davis, and letting both GM Chris Mullin and coach Don Nelson play out the final, lame-duck year of their contracts without even attempting to negotiate an extension. (There are rumors that he’s also personally negotiating an extension with an agent-less Stephen Jackson without the blessings of anyone else in the front office).
This is how Fear the Beard sums it up:
Are you starting to feel like this dude just really doesn’t give a shit? I am. Or maybe competent coaches, thoughtful and capable front office personnel and happy superstar guards grow on trees where he lives in Candyland.
And this is his final message to Rowell:
Mr. Robert Rowell, you clearly seem intent on taking as much liberty with the goodwill generated by the Warriors teams of the past few years as you like in the service of goals that seem more like those of a petty tyrant than those of a basketball visionary. … Try to stick to the marketing stuff. I personally don’t care much for your tendencies in that department either, but at least pizza-delivery dudes get off of the floor when the game starts. Now, we are starting to feel your influence on the hardwood after the horn sounds, and I’m not much enjoying the feeling. And seriously bro, no matter who you put in a damn rubber suit to shoot t-shirts at me next year, for the good of the fans whose interest you allegedly represent, you had better start leaving the basketball decisions to the people who actually understand them. Some of us are actually there to watch the game.
On the subject of Montagate, he also includes some telling quotes from a Q&A Rowell did with a local reporter that I can’t imagine will be particularly refreshing to Monta Ellis and his $3-million-lighter bank account:
TK: Is voiding the contract now out of the question in the future?
ROWELL: Our expectation is that Monta fully recovers, he’s back on the floor and he has a prosperous career as a Golden State Warrior. That’s our goal and that’s what our focus is.
TK: But if he doesn’t fully recover, you can take further actions?
ROWELL: I think that that is something that we obviously have our rights reserved but other than that, that’s something that really isn’t an issue at this moment. We feel that it’s an injury he’s going to fully recover from.
TK: So you’ve retained the ability to suspend him again?
ROWELL: Those are questions that I don’t have answers too today.
TK: If he comes back in a lesser version of himself can you take another bite out of contract?
ROWELL: That’s something that we’ll review at that time but again our position right now is that that’s not what our goals and objectives are here.
For more-informed and better takes on all the rumors and innuendos flying around about the Dubs front office infighting, check Dwyer and Fear the Beard (who has a great Easter egg at the end for ya).
The only other thing I have to add is historical perspective. Because I’m a Pacers fan, and even I said “Holy Shit” when I heard Monta got 30 games. Again, it’s breach of contract as opposed to on-court fighting or off-court drug/jailhouse shenanigans, so I understand the legal underpinnings of the whole thing, but it’s just hard to believe falling off a scooter and then fibbing to your boss about how you hurt your ankle is twice as bad as Jermaine O’Neal cold-cocking a chubby Detroit Piston fan in the face.
The following are the only other double-digit suspensions in NBA history that I could find. (I’m sure there are some 80s drug ones, among others, that I missed; let me know of any others.)
Lifetime ban – Jack Molinas, Fort Wayne Pistons
1953 – Molinas was barred for life by the NBA soon after he arrived there for gambling on his own team while playing for Columbia University.
Lifetime ban – Michael Ray Richardson, New Jersey Nets
1986 – Richardson, who had publicly struggled with a drug problem for years and got numerous suspensions, eventually got banned for life by young Commissioner David Stern.
3 years – Roy Tarpley, Dallas Mavericks
October 6, 1991 – Tarpley’s “lifetime ban” for violating the league’s drug abuse policy (it was alcohol, no?) was overruled on September 30, 1994, when he was reinstated.
2 years – Chris Anderson, New Orleans Hornets
January 25, 2006 – The Birdman was grounded (sorry about that) for a little over two-years (reinstated March 5, 2008) for failing a drug-test (allegedly coke) and doing this.
73 games – Ron Artest, Indiana Pacers
November 21, 2004 – Malice at the Palace. The suspension was actually the rest of the season, not a specific number of games.
68 games – Latrell Sprewell, Golden State Warriors
December 3, 1997 – Spree was originally suspended for a year two days after choking out PJ Carlesimo, but he ended up only serving out the remainder of the season and suiting up for the Knicks the following year.
30 games – Stephen Jackson, Indiana Pacers
November 21, 2004 – Malice at the Palace.
26 games – Kermit Washington, Los Angeles Lakers
December 9, 1977 – Kermit shattered Rudy Tomjanovich’s face with a sucker punch during an on-court fracas.
15 games – Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
December 18, 2005 – MSG fight where Melo punched Mardy Collins of the Knicks and then backpedalled across the court.
15 games – Jermaine O’Neal, Indiana Pacers
November 21, 2004 – Malice at the Palace. JO originally got 25 games, but it was dropped to 15 on appeal.
11 games – Dennis Rodman, Chicago Bulls
January 17, 1997 – The Worm kicked a cameraman in the junk.
10 games – Darius Miles, Boston Celtics
September 9, 2008 – Smoking weed.
10 games – J.R. Smith, Denver Nuggets
December 18, 2005 – MSG fight
10 games – Nate Robinson, New York Knicks
December 18, 2005 – MSG fight.
10 games – Lindsey Hunter, Detroit Pistons
March 7, 2007 – He tested positive for “phenermine,” an apparently banned weight-loss drug.
10 games – Vernon Maxwell
February, 8 1995 – Mad Max ran up the stairs into the stands and punched a fan.
* Connie Hawkins, while not suspended per se, also deserves mention. I honestly don’t know much about all this, but Hawkins got a bum rap throughout his career stemming from simply knowing Jack Molinas and testifying in the 1961 point-shaving scandal trial. He got kicked out of the University of Iowa and NBA commissioner J. Walter Kennedy made it be known that the Hawk was black-balled from the NBA. He was officially banned from the NBA in 1966 after several years in the ABL, with the Globetrotters and finally in the ABA. He filed a law suit against the NBA and won in 1969, after which he joined the Phoenix Suns.
* Richard Dumas was suspended multiple times over several years for drug violations but I didn’t bother looking it up.