Basketball Philosophy: Breaking Bad Promises

Bad Lincoln“Bad promises are better broken than kept.”

– Abraham Lincoln

No one likes to break a promise. It’s one of the worst things you can do. Sometimes, though, reneging on a sacred bond is the lesser of two atrocious outcomes. Especially if it’s a pact you had no business entering into in the first place.

Slavery was one such bad promise made at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The practice of property in people was promised protection and eventually the United States had to renege on that deal, albeit quite painfully through Civil War.

Bad promises in basketball, thankfully, don’t rise to the injustice of chattel humanity, but bad promises, mal agreements, are nonetheless made.

Take for instance the Philadelphia 76ers trading for Andrew Bynum in the summer of 2012. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Heck, it was a good idea at the time, in my opinion. Definitely a risky move, but one with tremendous potential. However, Bynum’s health proved rather flimsy and by the summer of 2013, the Sixers had to decide: stay the course and fulfill the promise, or renege and change course?

The Sixers boldly dismissed Bynum refusing to entertain any talks of a contract renewal. Furthermore, they traded away All-Star guard Jrue Holiday and gutted their roster of any potentially useful veteran. They’ve decided to start anew with a new batch of promises that hopefully play out better than the old ones.

The change of course will be a painful one for Philly, but it has a better chance for eventual ecstasy than a situation like that in Milwaukee. The Bucks are the NBA kings of keeping bad promises. Since making the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001, the Bucks have had just two seasons above .500 – a whopping 42 wins in 2003 and 46 in 2010. Yet they’ve sunk below 30 wins just twice – 2007 and 2008.

The Bucks have found themselves committed to fulfilling bad promises and make no real effort to extricate themselves from one. And the rare occasions they do so, they quickly commit themselves to a pact just as onerous.

Give the Bucks credit, I suppose, for staying the mediocre course. However, the clean, but painful, break made by Philly is the smart move to make.

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