Ben Gordon Signs With The Pistons

ben_gordonOK, I’ve been wrong before. It’s not often I don’t get basketball related things right, but it happens sometimes. I remember when I thought that Tayshaun Prince was going to be a bust in the league. Rip Hamilton too. Both of those guys turned out to be decent pros don’t you think? Well, I have another one to add to the list as I thought there was no way on earth Ben Gordon would get the same kind of money he turned down in Chicago. Wrong again.

I wrote an article called “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Gordon” where I basically said BG was stupid for turning down $50+ million dollar contract offers from the Chicago Bulls two summers in a row and he would never see another deal like that again. But Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons proved me wrong as they offered him a 5 year, $55 million dollar deal.

As a life-long, die hard Bulls fan it pains me to see a guy who was no doubt the only real scoring threat we had leave. What hurts worse than that is seeing him go to the Pistons who I’ve hated since they days of the “Bad Boys” beating up on my beloved Bulls. At first I blamed management for not trying harder to get a deal done with him. But now that he just signed for virtually the exact same money that he was offered here in Chicago (the Bulls offered 5 years, $50 million), there’s no doubt in my mind that BG has a very big axe to grind with management and he signed with the Pistons — a divison rival — just so he could stick it to his old squad four times a year.

Still, my basketball mind says this signing leaves more questions than answers. The biggest one being how long is Ben Gordon going to be happy with coming off the bench if the Pistons don’t plan on moving Rip Hamilton? BG was very unhappy coming off the bench in Chicago even though he was much more productive in that scenario. He’s always maintained that he feels he’s a starter in this league. I can’t knock his professionalism because even when he was unhappy in his role, he didn’t quit on the Bulls and he came to play every night. That’s why he was a fan favorite. Still, when you have a player sulking or complaining about their role it undoubtedly has an effect on team chemistry.

Chicago Bulls fans have a history of still cheering and rooting for guys even after they leave town as long as they played hard while they were here and represented the name on the front of the uniform with pride and passion. Had Ben Gordon gone anywhere else besides Detroit, he would still be loved here in the city. Now, this “Natural Born Killer” just became “Public Enemy #1”.

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Gordon

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Now that the season has ended for the Chicago Bulls I’m left wondering how many times Ben Gordon has thought about the $50 million dollars that he turned down…twice! With his career here in Chicago possibly over due to contract disputes with management, it’s hard to imagine that over the course of this past season that he hasn’t thought about all that money he said no to at least once. My guess is by now he’s probably thought about it oh, I’d say at least 50 million times already! Here’s why.

I truly believe — and have seen with my own eyes — that Ben Gordon has just as much confidence in himself and his abilities at the two guard spot as Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. He’s led the Bulls in scoring 4 of his 5 years in Chicago and when a guy does that, when contract time rolls around he’s usually rewarded with a deal that makes him the team’s highest paid player. Gordon however is the unfortunate exception to that rule. The highest paid player on the Bulls is Luol Deng, the second highest is Kirk Hinrich. Ben Gordon wants to be paid more than both of those guys. And in all fairness, based on his regular season numbers over the years and especially with his performance in the playoffs this year against the Boston Celtics, he should be the highest paid player on the team. But he’s got quite a few things working against him that’s probably going to prevent that from happening on the Bulls or any other team in the league if he does decide to leave the “City of Wind” this summer.

First are his problems on the court. He’s an undersized two guard that’s a liability defensively. Sure he can give a guy 30 on any given night, but he’ll also give up 30 (or more) on any given night. Also, outside of Chicago I don’t think there’s another team in the league that sees him as their starting two guard for the next 5 or 6 years. Most GM’s feel he has more value coming off the bench as a sixth man but he’s made it very clear during his time with the Bulls that he feels he’s a starter in the league and he’s not happy with coming off the bench. Secondly are his problems off the court. The main thing working against him right now is the coveted free agent class of 2010. With the big prize being LeBron James and teams also coveting guys like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudamire, Yao Ming & Dirk Nowitzki, it’s unfathomable to think that a team would be willing to throw big bucks at a guy like Ben Gordon. Especially if it means taking themselves out of the race for one of the guys that I just mentioned. Then there’s the issue of the luxury tax which is the main reason why the Bulls didn’t offer him the same money as Luol Deng. Sure he’s a great scorer, but if you’re the GM of an NBA team would you be willing to cross over into the luxury tax threshold to sign him? I don’t think so.

I openly blasted him on this blog and called him the dumbest athlete in professional sports for turning down the Bulls first offer of 5 years, $50 million and then their second offer of 6 years, $58 million. Even Gilbert Arenas said on his blog that when a team offers that kind of money you should take it. I also said that his next contract wasn’t going to be anywhere near the two deals the Bulls offered and that was just based on his value as a player. Then the recession hit! Now teams are cutting back any way that they can and the NBA in February secured a $200 million loan to help offset operating losses for half of its 30 teams. All of these things spell disaster for Ben Gordon receiving the kind of payday he was hoping for this summer.

So what’s next for the pride of Mt. Vernon, NY? I guess we’ll find out in a few months, but the one lesson that we can all learn from this and the one that Ben Gordon is going to unfortunately have to learn the hard way is this. Unless your agent is Jerry Maguire, the “Show Me The Money” tactic only works in the movies.

Ben Gordon – Another Year In The Chi

So I get this email a little after midnight that said that Ben Gordon had signed the Bulls 1 year qualifying offer of $6.4 million dollars, turning down the 6 year $58 million dollar long term deal that was reportedly on the table. This deal means that next year he will become an unrestricted free agent and if the team doesn’t make any moves to free up their backcourt log jam, he almost certainly WILL NOT be a in a Chicago Bulls uniform next year. At the guard spot the Bulls have Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Larry Hughes, Thabo Sefolosha & Gordon. Something is going to have to give because all of those guys are going to demand minutes and there just won’t be enough to go around

I knew this girl that used to hang out with BG and she told me that outside of basketball he wasn’t exactly the smartest person in the world. I see what she means now. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Ben Gordon and he is the only real scoring threat that the Bulls have, but I still wonder how  you turn down $50 million+ dollars…TWICE?! I don’t get it. Ben, is your ego that inflated that $50 million dollars isn’t enough money for you? I’ll bet if you added up the salaries of your entire family over a lifetime it wouldn’t add up to $50 million dollars. I know that it’s a must that a professional athlete be confident in himself and his abilities at all times but this is bordering on just plain old stupidity. What happens if you get hurt this year? What happens next year if you can’t get the money that you feel like you deserve from the Bulls or any other team? What then? Pro ball in Europe to try and get the cash that you want? If that’s not an option then you’re going to have to swallow your pride and take the lesser deal and that’s going to suck! Maybe it’s me and you and your agent — which I would’ve already fired by now — know something that I don’t know but I don’t see any team out there willing to throw $70 million+ at a shooting guard who can definitely score but is undersized and can’t guard anybody. So next year if he ends up having to sign for less money than what the Bulls have already offered him, somebody needs to let the local Alcoholics Anonymous chapter know that they may have a new member joining their support group. Stupidity like that will drive a man to drinking…heavily!