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Sports Watching & Wondering

John Randolph RogersLamar Odom is twisting in the wind. As this column is being written, his contract negotiation with the Lakers has stalled. They are not that eager to have him back. This comes as both a surprise and a disappointment to him, since he incorrectly assumed that a number of teams would be eager to sign him. Last year, the Lakers paid him $14 million to play basketball for that. He responded by giving them less than $5 million worth of effort. It appeared that he usually did not give his best effort, but that was okay with him. May be, at that time, he thought that he was indispensable. I'm from the information that I have read it appears that he wants a new contract for $10 million per year, but the Lakers are offering only $9 million. Apparently, he never thought that it would come to this. However, it does appear that the Lakers are ready and willing to go on without him. The lesson that he is learning, is that if you don't do your best, then someone else will do theirs. Additionally, there comes a time when people even stop caring whether or not you're doing your best, because it does not matter anymore. Odom has a lot of talent, but if I owned the team, I would not want him to be a member of it. I have never had any patience with athletes, and others, who do not do their best. In Odom's case, it may be that he is wired differently, and this may not be his fault. If that is his problem, then I am sorry for him, but I do not know how to fix it. So, I would have already traded him to a different team. He would not have lasted more than a single year with me.

There is a local buzz that Allen Iverson may become a Clipper for the coming season. As far as I am concerned, he and the Clippers richly deserve each other. It has always seemed to me that Iverson would have been happier, if he had remained in prison. But, he was given a pardon, and then forced to play in the NBA for a paltry sum of about $20 million per year. For this chicken feed, they apparently expected him to come to practice, and then to follow the instructions of the coaches. All this for a measly $20 million, we could have earned so much more as an Investment Banker, Ponzi Schemer, or Drug Dealer. While he was in Philadelphia, he and his homies had several run-ins with the police. It seemed to be important to him to prove his credibility in the street. It has now come to the point , where the pathetic Clippers may be the only team interested in signing him. What a revolting development that must be! If you behave like a thug long enough, then the world will treat you accordingly.

I wish that I could report to you that I was very excited about this year's Baseball All-Star Game. It used to be such an important event. All those youngsters knew all of the Players, and the thought of them all playing together was nearly overwhelming. I am happy that the Players earn more money because of Free agency, but by changing teams nearly every year, most of them have lost their identity with the team and the city. To old-time baseball fans, Jackie Robinson was a dodger, Willie Mays was a giant, and Mickey Mantle was a Yankee. That was unlikely to ever change. So, youngsters could safely fall in love with both the team and its stars. Now, at the end of every season, some Players go to different teams.

Francisco Rodriguez was a relief pitcher with the Los Angeles Angels for seven years. He became their star closer for the last three of those seven. When it was time for contract renewal, the Angels felt that he would want a three-year contract and at least $15 million a year. They did not intend to pay that, or anything being near it, so they did not even bother to offer him a contract. So, he signed with the Mets for a $37 million contract over a three-year period. He seems very hurt that the Angels did not negotiate, or beg him to stay. It is interesting that an athlete earning $10 million a year, would not realize that he was participating in a business. He may think of himself as loyal. You might ask yourself how loyal he would be, if the club ran out of money and could not pay him anything. I think that the players who most appreciate being athletes, are the ones who have had real jobs in their lives. Jobs, which may have required hard manual labor for only $5-$10 an hour. Then, when they could sign a contract for several million dollars, they realized how fortunate they were, and they did everything they could, in order to continue earning at that level. The old-time athletes earned more than the average working person, but not so much more, that they could completely change their lifestyle. Most of them held jobs in the off-season to supplement their incomes. In that way, they retained their sense of reality. Most of the athletes of yester year took their first earnings and bought a house. A survey of most of today's athletes show that the first thing that they buy is a luxury automobile, and then they really learn how to spend. M.C. Hammer, Mike Tyson, and Michael Jackson have proven that you can find a way to spend more than you earn, no matter how great your earnings are.


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