In the Long run: Nothing personal, just business

Michael Long, Sports Editor

The feeling of betrayal is one that cannot be matched. It’s awful, heart-wrenching and a feeling that should not be associated with professional sports. Athletes don’t switch teams as a personal attack on us, so we shouldn’t take it as one.

Players in professional sports change threads all of the time. This season alone, the NBA has seen seven superstars change teams. One of those players was Paul George. Last year, despite having time left on his contract with the Pacers, he wanted out. So, just days before the draft, George struck a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Carmelo Anthony is another one of those seven superstars to change teams this season, and he too joined the Thunder. In OKC, Anthony and George rally behind the 2016-2017 season MVP, Russell Westbrook.

With a big three this talented, George is looking at one of  his best chances to win a ring in the past seven years with the Pacers, and Anthony is looking at one of his best chances after his past six years with the New York Knicks.

This is a perfect example players giving up their loyalty to a team to better themselves. They both loved their time with their old teams and grew as players, but they also both recognized that it was time to move on. They’re just trying to leave their legacy in the league, just like any other professional athlete, and the best way to do that is by winning championships.

Towards the end of Anthony’s career with New York, there was some slight drama. However, I feel like Indiana respected George’s decision to leave and I’m proud of that. Hoosiers make an amazing fanbase. We did the same thing when Peyton Manning left the Colts after 14 seasons to join the Denver Broncos. Indiana always loved and cheered for Manning. However, not all players get that same type of love if they leave their team.

In 2016 after NBA forward Kevin Durant and the Thunder blew a 3-1 lead in the semi-finals against the Golden State Warriors, he became a free agent and signed with the very team that ended the Thunder’s season that year.

Durant received an insane amount hate for this move, earning him the nickname “Cupcake.” Was it a soft move? Yes. However, I can understand that he did it to better his career, and it did. The very next year he won his first championship and won the Finals MVP.

NBA superstar LeBron James faced hate as well when he decided to “take his talents to South Beach” and leave the Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat.

Fans were outraged, and James’ jersey became a common source of fuel for fires for the people of Cleveland.

Despite the hate from his hometown fans, James still found success in Miami, appearing in four finals and winning two of them.

Then James left Miami to go back to Cleveland in 2014. Jerseys were again burned and James’ face on a mural of the team that took Serge Toussaint two years to paint was defaced.

There was no justification for that act. It was disrespectful towards James who was just trying to better his career, and a spit in the face to Toussaint who worked hard on it.

Despite the over-the-top hate on James, he still found even more success back in Cleveland, appearing in three more finals and winning one, breaking Cleveland’s 52-year sports curse of not winning a championship.

Because of the constant flow of players from one team to another, fans shouldn’t fret if their favorite player leaves their team. It may hurt for a little but who knows what free agency or a trade could bring in the future. That is something that keeps sports interesting.

Just look at Colts running back Frank Gore. Gore played in San Francisco for nine years and then out of the blue, landed in Indianapolis. He is also ranked 9th in all-time rushing yards. I don’t know about you, but I have no problem with him playing for my city.

The NBA is a business. The NFL is a business. All professional sports are businesses and most of the people involved are only concerned with money and success.

Kevin Durant said it best in an interview with Bleacher Report when he said, “When you put money and business into something that’s pure, it’s going to get (messed) up.”