It may not be popular in our culture but let’s celebrate a new millionaire.
Gambo reported it a few weeks ago, but the signing of P.J. Tucker became official Wednesday. He is the perfect example of what it is about the relationship between players and fans that so many players simply do not understand.
Although not a majority, many players look down on us as fans. You can’t blame them entirely when you read the tweets some fans send to athletes, but it’s egotistical for athletes to assume one “hater” or one annoying autograph seeker represents all of us.
The salary cap forces all of us in the media and you as fans to judge the production versus the price. When we talk about a player’s value, we’re not talking about his value to his family or to planet earth. It’s a fair conversation to agree or disagree with an organization for the cap value a team has placed on one individual. That’s the nature of present day sports.
Some players don’t realize that the vast majority of fans don’t sit around getting angry at the income of an athlete. We get angry at the attitude of a wealthy athlete just like we would the attitude of a wealthy stockbroker or real estate mogul.
Compare P.J. Tucker to the famous statement from Latrell Sprewell. Sprewell rejected a $28 million offer from Minnesota saying, “Why would I want to go out and win a championship for them? They’re not doing anything for me. I’m at risk. I have a lot of risk here. I got my family to feed.” When he received the offer, it was an offer for an extension. Sprewell still had a year and $14 million left on his contract.
With the quote from Sprewell on your mind, look at P.J. Tucker. He was cut by the Toronto Raptors and for five years played for teams in Colorado, Israel, Ukraine, back to Israel, Greece, Italy, Puerto Rico and Germany. Eight years after getting drafted, he finally signs a big money deal. He’s getting the money not because of supreme athleticism. The money is due to his work ethic, leadership and heart. His attitude towards life is that he’s blessed but will never stop working hard. That’s all we’ve ever asked for from athletes.
P.J. Tucker has earned every dollar of that contract. I guarantee true basketball fans are thrilled for P.J. to see him come as far as he has. I hope all athletes understand that if you carry yourself like Tucker, we root for you on the court and in life. We don’t begrudge you for the financial opportunity the game has provided when you give all that you have every night. We judge desire before productivity.
From one man who will never see two percent of your yearly salary, I salute you.