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In Defense of Danny

I spoke briefly today with Danny Fortson who had a smile on his face despite his reported unhappiness with his place on the team. Our conversation was casual and I have nothing to report in terms of his comments. Essentially we just caught up with each other as he’s been on the road for a while.

While I have nothing to report on our conversation it did stir up some discussion that I think is worth bringing up in this forum.

Essentially the theory we came up with is that in many ways Danny is destined to have friction with the league that he cannot control. It is obvious the referees have singled him out and will not let him contribute to the game. Clearly these disputes affects his ability to perform on the court and without being too blunt when a guy makes $6 million a year and cannot contribute his employers are going to have some problems with him.

In some ways an NBA player essentially becomes a commodity that is evaluated against its cost. Performance is weighed against pay and the various talents are bought, sold, and traded on the market. This is not limited to management. It is extremely clear to me that members of the team are not above evaluating what type of impact another player makes and comparing it with what they should do based on earnings and ability.

Essentially the officials have made it impossible for Danny to contribute. Being unable to contribute ensures that management and teammates will have some issues with Danny when they evaluate his performance and frankly Danny just doesn’t deal well when he has issues with people. Until the issue with the officials is ended there is almost no chance of him existing peacefully on a team.

The comparison we made is of a sportswriter who has excellent writing skills but cannot get along with the players. Eventually the quality of his writing becomes irrelevant and he would simply have to be let go. Danny is a good basketball player who cannot get along with the referees and it is a battle he will eventually settle or lose.

I won’t make excuses for Danny. His dispute with the referees is partially his fault and he cannot just blame them without making some changes himself. He also could deal better with the friction created by the situation. Still I find myself feeling a little more sympathy for the guy when I realize how the deck is stacked against him right now.