As published in The County Times (countytimes.somd.com)
By Ronald N. Guy Jr.
This is going to be a busy “View”. Grab a chair. Here it goes.
Last week, Bradley Beal resigned with the Wizards for five years and a cool $251M, Terry McLaurin signed a three-year, $71M extension with the Commanders, Kevin Durant asked the Nets for a trade, and UCLA and USC further fractured college sports’ landscape by jettisoning the PAC-12 for the B1G conference. Oh, and pro golfers continue to exit the PGA Tour for the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf.
Breathe. The defectors are up first.
Remember August 21, 2021? Just a 11 months ago, per the calendar. Forever ago, in NBA terms. Durant signed a four-year, $194M contract extension on that date, a contract that kicks in next season. And he just asked the Nets for a trade, because, well, this is the move for NBA stars now. Durant’s tenure with the Nets has been choppy. His running mate, Kyrie Irving, is a bit of an eccentric and a steadfast anti-vaxxer (a choice that rendered him unavailable for home games in the vaccination-required state of New York). A trade for former MVP James Harden didn’t work (he was dealt to Philadelphia late last season) and the Nets’ season ended with an embarrassing first round playoff exit. Then Durant’s former team, the Golden State Warriors, won the championship. So, Durant’s torqued, and instead of grinding through the challenge, he wants to jump and parachute into a situation offering an easier path to the championship.
Kinda nuts, eh? Yeah, until you check behind door numbers two (college football) and three (golf).
USC and UCLA just determined the future of college sports by shunning the PAC-12, a conference the schools had been members of since 1922 and 1928, respectively, for the B1G. With the entire Los Angeles market now in the B1G’s coffers, and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) poised to add Texas and Oklahoma in 2025, there will be two super-conferences in college sports. Never mind long-standing rivalries. Forget competitive balance. “Follow the money,” as Deep Throat said. Listen to the cash register ring. Same goes for those shameless pro golfers – Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson to name a few – who signed up for dirty checks from Saudi Arabia.
Cringey flashback: It’s 1982 and I’m in the back of my mom’s station wagon while Michael Martin Murphy’s “What’s Forever For?” blares through the speakers. “Why doesn’t anybody ever stay together anymore?”, he sings. I don’t know, M-cubed. I don’t know.
With all semblance of continuity and commitment fading, McLaurin and Beal arrived like two stabilizing Avengers. Beal’s choice to remain with the Wizards is curious; he was due stupid money nearly everywhere, to choose Washington is to choose mediocrity, at best. Beal is now poised to end his career as one of the greatest Wizards of all time, and certainly the best in generations…for what it’s worth.
McLaurin’s decision to stay with the Commanders is pleasing but unsettling. For Commanders fans, McLaurin’s extension was Christmas in June. For McLaurin, it was lottery day – $71M in total and a $28M signing bonus. But McLaurin deserves better. Not more money, necessarily, but better. Good luck finding another NFL player with McLaurin’s level of professionalism and character. He is everything a Dan Snyder organization is not.
With the paydays inevitable, Beal’s and McLaurin’s decisions to stay with middling (Wizards) or embarrassing (Commanders) franchises remind that wealth is more than money. Sahil Bloom (@SahilBloom), a self-described entrepreneur, creator and investor, dropped an epic Twitter thread last Saturday – “22 Powerful Ideas from the first half of 2022.” One of the 22 ideas defined five types of wealth – financial (money), social (relationships), physical (health), mental (knowledge, faith) and time (freedom).
Whatever their calculus, Beal and McLaurin determined that remaining in Washington generated the most personal wealth. And on second thought, Durant’s decision may be less cowardice and more a grasp for non-monetary aspects of wealth. However, the LIV golfers, and USC and UCLA’s abandonment of the PAC-12, leave only one conclusion – this was a money-grab, holistic wealth be damned. Perhaps Bloom’s powerful, multi-faceted wealth equation excludes institutions and pro golfers. It’s their loss – and ours.