Earn it or Buy it?

Posted on June 13th, by Rob Scichili in All. No Comments

Harvey Martin knew it was a bad idea, but he didn’t care.

harveymartin_funeral_wreathA funeral wreath was sent to the Dallas Cowboys’ locker room earlier in the week before the 1979 season finale against the Washington Redskins. Winner was the NFC East champion. Loser goes home.

The Skins led by 13 with less than three minutes remaining at Texas Stadium, and Roger Staubach threw two touchdown passes to knock Washington out of the playoffs.

Martin took great pleasure in taking the wreath down to the Redskins’ locker room and throwing it through the door.

He later apologized to the Washington organization, but it is moments like these that made pro sports rivalries so great back in the day.

Then free agency came along. Wreaths no longer are tossed into locker rooms. Maybe they would if half of the teams didn’t originate with another organization.

Free agency has ruined sports. At least what sports used to be.

Take last night’s NBA Finals game, for example. San Antonio’s best players – Duncan, Ginobili and Parker – all original Spurs. There’s something to be said about a franchise that drafts and builds and grows the right way. It is no coincidence that the Spurs play team basketball like no one else. And Spurs fans can be especially proud since this team is truly theirs.

The Heat’s best four players – three of them came via free agency; hired guns, if you will. It led to two titles. Yippee. Tell me, what exactly have you accomplished, Miami? Oh yes, congratulations – you bought a mini dynasty.

Oh, and now this – there are rumors that the Heat would like to find a way to add Carmelo Anthony to the circus.

Two things: 1. Why not wait until you actually fail to win that third title this year before talking about re-inventing the wheel. 2. Again, what in the world are you actually trying to accomplish?

51fYSoA5AhL._SX300_When Michael Jordan won his first title in 1991, he cried tears of joy. The Pistons in 1989? Isiah cradled the Larry O’Brien Trophy like a newborn baby. Dirk? Forget it – he had to leave the floor to compose himself before returning for the trophy in 2011.

It meant something. All of that hard work, all of the sacrifice, all of the determination – paid off.

The Heat won the 2012 and the 2013 titles and there were smiles and laughing. Wheeee – look ma, we won it all! Congratulations. You’ve accomplished nothing in my eyes.

Do you think Larry Bird or Magic Johnson or Jordan or Isiah would have left their respective teams in their prime? Heck no. They’ve worked too hard for this.

All sports fans are victims to it. Money runs all, and free agency has ruined our sports.

I grew up hating the Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles as a Cowboys fan. But it was more than that. I hated Joe Theismann, Ron Jaworski, Harold Carmichael and Dexter Manley. Now, I feel nothing for the Redskins. I still hate the Eagles, but that’s more aimed at their fans. Heck, Jason Hatcher is proving that you can play one season with Dallas and the next in Washington.

What’s (or who’s) to hate any more? As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “We root for laundry.”

The good old days are gone. Carmelo may indeed join Miami, among other big names that continue to move every summer.

But at least one thing is for sure – Duncan will still be a Spur and Dirk will still be a Mav. Maybe next season they can meet in the playoffs again. No wreaths needed though; they may be rivals but there’s something else that has been earned. Respect.

Rob Scichili

Rob Scichili (shick-lee) has worked in professional sports for over 24 years in PR and communications, including time with the Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks, MLB.com, Minnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks. A journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he is co-owner and editor at ScoreboardTx, principal at Shick Communications and VP at Franchise Sports & Entertainment while serving on the board of the Mike Modano Foundation.

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