Spoiler alert: I could never be an NBA general manager.
There are tons of reasons. Not smart enough. Lousy at networking. Don’t work hard enough. Generally a grating person to be around for extended periods of time. Poor leader. Not enough basketball experience.
I’m getting a little bummed out, so I’ll just toss one more out. Too honest.
I’m incapable of playing the games necessary to get into public positions. I always knew that, but rarely has that been more clear to me than it was yesterday during and after John Hammond’s press conference discussing the past season and the parting of ways with Jim Boylan.
I know how the game goes. A leader of a team isn’t going to tell everyone that things are bleak and there isn’t a clear solution to getting past that. In a post season press conference, no general manager is going to hold on to bad feelings from the season before. It’s never doom and gloom, it’s only the possibility of a better tomorrow.
When he said, “If you look at our roster, this thing surely is not broke right now,” I understand that, despite a strong season of evidence to the contrary. But he could never say that the roster is riddled with flaws that may or may not be solved this summer. Yeah, the team has Larry Sanders and John Henson, but it’s pretty thin outside of the four and five positions. He can’t say that there’s little hope of Milwaukee acquiring a true impact player, because that would be insane. Facing reality is not what these press conferences are about.
But there are some opportunities to paint a realistic picture of the current situation the team is in and look like you’re serious about getting them out of it. I suppose I mean that there are chances to give hints about what’s really important to the franchise. Chances to say super easy things like, “We want to win a title” or “We’re not satisfied with simply making the playoffs.” These are boilerplate terms that aren’t inspiring, but at least give you the sense that a team has those goals in mind. I couldn’t hear questions during the conference, but at some point, someone must have asked Hammond if he was disappointed with the past season.
“You look at the season and I hate to use, don’t want to use, not going to use words like disappointment. I’m not going to describe our season like that. We made the playoffs. We were heading in the right direction, we just had major slippage in the very end. We didn’t accomplish every goal. We accomplished an important goal.
We got in. And once you get in, you have a chance, but we have to be more consistent in doing that.”
That’s just the craziest thing to me. That’s the kind of talk that makes me wonder why I even bother. What’s the point? When the bar is set so low that this last season could be categorized as anything other than a major disappointment, how do you continue to believe in a franchise? In the sense that this team turned it a performance that largely reflected most realistic expectations before the season, yeah, I suppose this team wasn’t disappointing. But most people predicted they would be the ninth best team in the East and only the Sixers demise prevented that from happening. How is that not disappointing?
I feel like I’m in some bizarre dream where every time I open a door I’m hit in the face with a hammer. I was excited to see this season end and I had hopes that this off-season would bring much needed change in the roster and hopefully a new direction. But if last season isn’t a disappointment, that means it’s acceptable. And if that’s what’s acceptable, that’s what will continue to happen.
38-44. Two coaches, one who may have quit because he knew the team’s limitations. Never more than five games over .500. This is not a disappointment in Milwaukee. I’m not saying it’s categorized as success, but it isn’t categorized as failure.
I just don’t get it. Hammond seems so sharp. He’s such an accountable person and threw blame all over himself for Boylan’s situation. Hammond said it was on him and that when he goes home at night, he thinks about what he’s done wrong, not what everyone else has done wrong. And I totally believe that. There’s no reason to assume Hammond is anything but accountable, intelligent and a smart basketball mind.
But somehow, the organization continues to hop on the treadmill of mediocrity Hammond said that it’s important for the Bucks that they can control their own destiny to a certain extent when he was talking about the team’s salary structure and number of free agents. It sounds like a great thing, but at this point, I’m pretty terrified of what they want that destiny to look like.