Imagine you’ve been living in one place for nearly five years. You’re good at your job, but you don’t draw attention to yourself, which makes you even more admired and appreciated in your industry — so much so that media outlets like The New York Times devote thousands of words to your unique, understated dedication. Your boss — one of the most innovative, forward-thinking individuals in his field — recognizes your value to his organization and at times gushes about you like a favorite child. You’re getting older, but you remain a vital part of your team. Oh, and you just happen to be an intelligent, well-respected employee diligently plying his trade while others slack off, complain and squander their talent.
Then, one day, you find out you’ve been completely uprooted. Your boss, the same boss who once sang your praises, has sent you to a different company hundreds of miles away. No hard feelings; it’s a business decision — even you, the one being moved away from home, understand that. But the thing that really catches you off-guard is how you find out about it.
This all happened to former Houston Rockets forward Shane Battier, who on Feb. 24 — just hours before the NBA’s annual trading deadline — was shipped, along with Ishmael Smith, to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Hasheem Thabeet, DeMarre Carroll and a first-round draft pick.
From Battier’s perspective, the trade wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. He actually had been drafted by Memphis out of college and played the first five seasons of his careers there, so he was returning to familiar surroundings. Plus, his contract was up after this season, which meant there was a good chance he would be leaving Houston soon anyway. It was not surprising that Daryl Morey, the team’s general manager, would try to get something in return for Battier, rather than risk letting him walk for nothing.
At the same time, though, receiving his first notice of the trade on Twitter was less than ideal for Battier, as he indicated in an interview with WHBQ in Memphis (via Sports Radio Interviews):
“It was a stressful day. I haven’t had that much stress surrounding basketball since my draft day. It’s a life-altering day. … People don’t realize you have families. I have a pregnant wife … and dogs I have to take care of. Knowing that I would probably have a different address by the end of the day was a little nerve-wracking.”
As Eric Freeman of Yahoo! Sports blog Ball Don’t Lie writes, it’s difficult to blame Morey or Rockets head coach Rick Adelman for this. Granted, they could have told Battier of the trade or the possibility of one beforehand, but that’s not always possible — or the best move — especially right before the trade deadline. Freeman makes a good point when he poses the following:
“Should a general manager be expected to inform his players about every rumor? That seems as if it’d create a situation in which players live in a constant state of paranoia, not knowing when they could be shipped out of town. Would it be worth it to make people that uncomfortable?”
Really, the most important thing to take away from the whole situation isn’t about the unfortunate nature of wheeling and dealing in the NBA. Trades happen all the time, sometimes on a moment’s notice. Most players, particularly ones like Battier, are prepared to face that truth.
No, the takeaway here is the influence of social media, which is growing stronger and faster by the second. If you think it’s great to get moment-by-moment updates from the Oscars or read about Charlie Sheen’s latest antics from the man himself, think about how Shane Battier must feel.