The New Yorkers Isaac Chotiner recently wrote an article detailing the career of Rich Paul and the player empowerment era in the NBA. In the article, an anonymous NBA GM voices his problems with the player empowerment era.
“Player empowerment is a catchall for the fact that the league has done a terrible job of empowering teams, …. The players have all of the leverage in every situation. I think it’s the worst thing that ever happened to professional sports on all levels.”Anonymous NBA GM
The player empowerment movement has been defined by LeBron James, who is good friends with Rich Paul and his first client. In 2011 LeBron moved from Cleveland to Miami in free agency. He left behind a small market for a much bigger market in Miami. In 2016, Kevin Durant moved from small-market Oklahoma City to the large Bay Area market when he joined the Warriors. LeBron and Durant have both moved teams since then. They now play in the two biggest markets in the league: New York and Los Angeles.
Not only do stars flock to big markets in the NBA, but they also do it together. LeBron moved to L.A. to team up with Antony Davis, which came to fruition the next year. Durant moved to the Nets with Kyrie Irving, and eventually, James Harden joined those two.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s most definitely different. Bomani Jones of ESPN looks at the player empowerment situation much differently.
“The N.B.A. has a problem, which is it’s got some bad real estate. They put a lot of teams in places that young Black men don’t necessarily want to live.”Bomani Jones of ESPN
Opinions on the player empowerment era will, of course, differ based on who you ask. The owners and GMs who have been in power for so long have many problems with it. For the players and the agencies, though, it’s just leveling a playing field that has been uneven for too long.