As another joyous holiday season approaches, many Americans will focus their attention on all the things they have to be thankful for in their lives. Many people faced tough times in 2011, some affected by devastating natural disasters, and many others by the current economic uncertainty. Our society is filled with underprivileged individuals but for the purpose of brevity I would like to focus my attention on one man who has spent the past year in the Earthly equivalent of hell, a man who has faced hardships and obstacles in of Biblical proportions this year. I am referring of course to new Los Angeles Clipper point guard Chauncey Billups.
After reading Chauncey’s interview with Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowksi, I immediately had to wonder if there could even be a God. How could He allow such a cruel punishment upon one man? Is it possible that Chauncey Billups is the new Job? Billups has been a good guy, he has been a leader, and he has been a champion, but now all he is a disrespected man who has lost his freedom. Freedom is what makes America great and it is appalling that so many people will just stand idly by and watch a man stripped of his dignity and his liberty. The fact that protestors haven’t lined the streets to show their support for this crestfallen individual who has become a pawn in the game of American corporate showmanship and greed makes me lose a little bit of faith in all of us.
Now would be probably be a good time to give you a fake real world analogy to what is happening to Billups for educational purposes. This would also probably be a good time to drop the dripping sarcasm of the previous paragraphs before I lose your interest.
Imagine the following: you are a janitor at a local elementary school for overweight children who cannot control their bowels. You work alone and you work long hours. You are not paid well. You live in a horrible small town that has nothing at all going for it. The children are fed nothing but Chipotle. One day, you receive a call from your boss telling you that although they have enjoyed having your services they have decided for budgetary reasons that they have to let you go.
However, they will pay you your entire salary for the year and they have hooked you up with another similar but slightly better job that starts right away in another comparable city while also obtaining the same pay, thereby having you be paid two salaries while only working one job. The new job will be the exact job that you signed up for originally and have now been doing for years. Also, this is only for one year and you can choose to do anything you want to do after that.
Do you know what your reaction would be? You would jump for joy! You would buy the next couple rounds for your buddies at the bar and you would tell your wife that you are essentially getting paid to NOT come to work and then getting paid extra to go work for a competitor of your old employers. You would giddily frolic and skip everywhere you went the day you heard that news. Now is a good time to remind you that you still clean shit for a living and your city still sucks and your job still sucks and you probably have Cryptosporidiosis. Despite all that, you would realize that you just had a wonderful thing happen to you professionally and financially ; you would not be ‘irate’, and you would not feel ‘disrespected’.
Unlike Chauncey Billups, who described himself as being ‘irate’ and that he feels ‘disrespected’ after playing out a situation similar to what you the janitor just went through. But replace ‘janitor’ with ‘NBA player’, ‘not paid well’ with ‘$14 million a year’, and ‘horrible small town’ with ‘New York and Los Angeles’.
Without going into too much detail, here is a fast summary of Chauncey’s life over the past year. Halfway through last season Chauncey is traded from his hometown Denver Nuggets to the New York Knicks where he immediately becomes the starting point guard on a Knicks team that makes the playoffs for the first time in years. Billups is part of a team that re-energizes basketball in the city that prides itself on being the best basketball city in the world. Chauncey plays at Madison Square Garden for a fun coach to play for and gets $13 million to do so.
This offseason, the Knicks decide to use their ‘amnesty clause’ and pay Billups his entire salary for the year to NOT play for them. Every other team in the league now has a chance to pick him up and he is signed by the Los Angeles Clippers, one of the youngest, most exciting and up-and-coming teams in the league (now featuring one of the best players in the league, Chris Paul). Billups will be paid $12 million this year by the Knicks to NOT play for them, and $2 million by the Clippers TO play for them. Got it?
Just before being picked up by the Clippers, Billups had this to say, “I’m tired of being viewed as the good guy. After a while, you just kind of get taken advantage of in these situations.” So in summation, to Chauncey Billups getting taken advantage of means being forced to move to LA. To play at the Staples Center in front of celebrities. For one year. For $14 million. To throw alley-oops to this guy. To play basketball for a living. The only good to come out of this ordeal is that I finally have a New Year’s Resolution, get taken advantage of way more often.