Diss Guy: Chris “Birdman” Anderson
Let’s not beat around the bush: Birdman was picked as Diss Guy of the Week partially as an excuse to post that picture above. But only partially, because a lot of awesome Chris Anderson things have happened this week:
After playing on two 10-day contracts, the Miami Heat signed Chris Anderson to a contract for the full season.
- They did so because Anderson, granted in only 65 minutes, is having a great year.
- To what does the Birdman attribute his rejuvenation after knee surgery? Fried rice. But don’t worry, because this is “legit fried rice. It’s not like the fried rice you can pick up from P.F. Chang’s or something like that. This is legitimate, healthy.”
- Also of note in that interview is that he introduces himself to other people as “Bird”.
- How ubiquitous is that nickname? So much so that even Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who refuses to call players by their nickname, calls him Bird.
Good show, Birdman. Good show.
Miss Guy: Donald Fehr
I hope to go a bit more in-depth into this increasingly fascinating issue at some point next week, but for the purposes of this discussion, here is essentially what you need to know. The National Basketball Player’s Association, the labor union that represents NBA players, is in a period of great upheaval. Derek Fisher, the union’s president, has finally garnered enough support to suspend Billy Hunter, the current executive director of the union, on accusations of grift and nepotism. While Hunter is fighting the dismissal, the evidence against him looks damning, and most assume that his days as the head of the NBPA are over.
Meanwhile, the players have the tough task of choosing a new union head. Fisher’s name has been thrown around, but he doesn’t want the job. B. Todd Jones, the acting director of the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, has been rumored to be a candidate. But the most smoke seems to be rising from a fire set by prominent player agents who would like to see current National Hockey Player’s Association (NHPA) head Donald Fehr take the job. Reportedly, this idea is getting some traction amongst the players as well.
Now, sports fans young and old should be crinkling their noses and exchanging oh no! glances around the room now that Don Fehr’s name has been thrown out there. Older folks might remember Don Fehr as the militant head of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) from 1985-2009, who took part in five consecutive labor stoppages, including the disastrous 1994-1995 player’s strike which cancelled the postseason and World Series and damaged the game’s reputation for years. Younger fans might remember him for his role in the NHL’s recent labor stoppage, which killed nearly half the season, and has been deemed by most (including Mavs owner Mark Cuban) as “totally unnecessary”. Indeed, Fehr is the only sports labor leader who’s been involved in protracted stoppages in two different professional sports leagues, and given the historically restive relationship between the league and the NBPA, it seems likely that he’d add a third to his resume.
I’m not really ready to make a pronouncement about the role of unions in professional sports. As a (formerly active) labor activist, I am generally for unions, and understand their historical and practical purposes for various workplaces. But in any institution where participating bodies are separated into “followers” and “leaders”, there is always a chance that the “leaders” will abuse the powers bestowed upon them to advance their own personal interests and raise their profiles. Indeed, one of the only reasons we know names like Don Fehr, Billy Hunter and even DeMaurice Smith are because of lengthy labor stoppages. And regardless of whether a stoppage or strike nets gains for the already-rich players (the NBA, NFL and NHL lockouts over the last two years have been labeled as “victories” for the owners), these executive directors still pull in gigantic paychecks. Indeed, the job itself already seems to lend itself towards shameless self-promotion and vapid self-payments, and Don Fehr, over the course of his career, has unabashedly done both.
I feel safe saying this, despite my political leanings, and history of labor activism: if you are a fan of professional basketball, and you hated the lockouts, you should not be excited about the prospect of Don Fehr leading the NBPA.