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NBA - NBA Dreams and Nightmares

By Will Meadows
Sunday, July 14th, 2002

The NBA's offseason is always full of hope and promise. With new draft picks and free agent signings, NBA teams can transform seemingly overnight from conference doormats to NBA darlings. For some teams, the hopes of the future can come crashing down before the first training camp. Without further delay, let's begin our journey into the basketball abyss we call the NBA.

Last week, the NBA held its annual draft in New York. Apparently, the Seattle Supersonics did not get the memo that says pick the best player available. With the 49th pick in the second round they drafted 6'11" forward Peter Fehse from Germany. This is not to say Peter will never become a serviceable NBA player. I cannot pass judgment on him because I have not seen him play, but guess what, neither have the Seattle Supersonics.

Seattle general manager Rick Sund admitted that his organization had not seen the German big man play and admitted they made the pick based on a tip. Whom are the Sonics getting their tips from, Mickey Mouse?

Good job, Seattle, your ship is sinking faster than the Titanic. Note to perennial all-star Gary Payton and Sonic head coach Nate McMillan, grab your life preserver while you can.

Meanwhile, down in New Orleans, the newly transplanted Hornets are trying to come to an agreement with rising star Baron Davis. Baron wants to leave the Hornets because he does not want to play in New Orleans.

The prolific point guard wants to be traded to a team in the Los Angeles area where he played his collegiate ball at UCLA. Baron also is interested in hanging his sneakers in Chicago and New York, which are also on his short list for future employment. He has one year left before his contract is up, and then he can take his services to the highest bidder.

Hornets personnel man Bob Bass has said he will not trade Baron under any circumstances. To move things along, the Hornets have backed up the Brinks truck and offered him a six-year contract extension worth the league maximum. I can see Baron now looking out his window and saying to himself, "I hear you knocking, but you can't come in."

The situation is only going to escalate if both sides cannot reach an amicable agreement. By the time the situation is settled, the Hornets are going to wish the Brinks truck had run Baron Davis over.

If you are a Los Angeles Clippers fan, you have my deepest condolences.

Clippers owner Donald Sterling had a deal worked out on draft night with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Clippers would have sent the 8th and 12th picks along with the multi-talented and often-suspended Lamar Odom to Cleveland. In return, the Cavaliers would have shipped point guard extraordinaire Andre Miller to the Clippers.

The Cavaliers told Clippers management to select Caron Butler with their eighth pick. It appears the Clippers have selective hearing because instead of taking Butler, they took Maryland power forward Chris Wilcox.

By this point in time, you know Cleveland had realized the Clippers had shafted them and the deal was off. Here is what I gather from this whole situation.

Over the past two seasons, the Los Angeles Clippers have amassed the best young talent in the NBA. By making a trade for future all-star Elton Brand on draft day last year, the Clippers sent a message to the league and its fans. The message conveyed was that they were building an organization that would compete with the talent of their Staples Center roommates, the Los Angeles Lakers.

The fairytale story will end if the Clippers do not do something to shore up their current point guard situation and open the vaults to compensate unrestricted free agent Michael Olowokandi. To add more headaches for the Clippers, starters Corey Maggette, Odom, and Brand all are eligible for contract extensions this summer. Not to mention, guard Jeff McInnis wants a hefty pay raise for his services.

Donald Sterling is starting to revert to his old ways of throwing pennies around instead of dollars. This is evident by not wanting to add payroll by signing Andre Miller if the trade would have went down. The team of the future will come to a screeching halt if money is not invested in the teams' young stars, and improvements in depth and at the point guard position are not made.

On a more serious note, Utah Jazz center Greg Ostertag did something that is more courageous than any thing he could have done on a basketball court. He donated one of his kidneys to his sister who had complications due to diabetes.

This is just one example of a real life issue that athletes face in their lives. Sometimes, we make the mistake of thinking our heroes are invincible, and impervious to any real life problems because of their perceived fame and fortune. In reality, athletes are just like you and me with the exception that they have a gift to perform at a higher level when it comes to athletic competition.

People rarely get to hear of the good deeds that happen outside of the arena. Most athletes do not want the attention or they feel like people will view it as self-promotion. Athletes like Ostertag should be put on a pedestal for their generosity above their athletic achievements. Greg Ostertag has often been criticized for not playing with heart on the court. While off the court, he has a heart of gold.

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