As usual, T.J. Simers had an interesting column in the LA Times this week where he got Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, to admit to something no one should:
The players got Vinny Del Negro fired.
"So I wonder, is this decision being made because the players are now calling the shots? Am I off base?"
"No, you're not off base," Sterling said. "This is a players' league, and, unfortunately, if you want to win you have to make the players happy. Don't you think that's true?... It's not entirely true. Money is not the only thing that makes them happy," Sterling said. "They want to win, and they want the best opportunity to win. Do they know what the best opportunity to win is? I frankly don't know.
But if you have special players, and special players think that they know the best opportunity to win, you have to support them."
Simers then drew the connection to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin as being the “special players” and pointed out that after he was fired, Del Negro said:
"Like any coach, you get your complaints and complainers in players, but I think we had a very good working relationship. But I think if you let players run your organization, you are behind from the start."
So, it's pretty safe to say that Paul and Griffin, if not others as well, got Del Negro canned, but is Sterling right that this is the way to run teams now?
Like with any business, it's smart to hear your employees' suggestions and possibly act on them, because everyone likes to feel like they have a voice. But that's the problem: everyone would feel like they needed a voice in the situation, and basketball is a business with a lot of egos.
The Clippers are trying to lock Paul up into a long contract and would likely do anything to keep him, including firing the coach.
Luckily for the Clippers, Paul's a smart player and would likely make smart moves, but that won't always be the case.
It all comes down to what a team cares about. If all they care about is putting butts in the seats, then they might be wise to let a player make the decisions if he were of a Kobe Bryant or LeBron James caliber, because people will come to see them do something spectacular.
However, if a team wants to win a championship, it would be smart to leave personnel decisions to the front office, because that's what they're there for. Take the players' input, yes, but don't do anything because of them. That's when things start getting dicey.