In case you haven't heard, Carmelo Anthony was traded to the New York Knicks last week. A three-team trade that almost tied the NBA record for most players in a single trade saw Anthony and Chauncey Billups traded to the Knicks and a slew of young talent headed by Danilo Gallinari to the Denver Nuggets. The NBA, driven by necessity of having superstars in large markets such as Los Angeles, New York, etc., got what it wanted, but this entire Carmelo Anthony saga didn't come out smelling like roses. This trade proved that self-interest of superstars still rules and that the NBA will ultimately choose whether or not rules are applicable in certain situations.
With the most important market in the league being the New York/New Jersey area, the NBA allowed Carmelo to openly determine his destination in the middle of the season. Many consider this to clearly be tampering, and if it is tampering, the Knicks and Nets would be slammed with a heavy fine, but they weren't. This past summer, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was slapped with a 100,000 dollar fine for saying "Come July 1, yeah, of course, anybody would be interested in LeBron James." Former Phoenix Suns GM Steve Kerr was also fined 10,000 dollars for jokingly mentioning on a radio show about LeBron James "Well, if he'll take mid-level, we'll give it to him." What Cuban and Kerr mentioned in interviews pales in comparison to what Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov did. Prokhorov dined with Anthony during All-Star weekend and even gave updates to the media about his meeting with Anthony.
The NBA continues to prove its dependency on having its best players in the biggest market. With the impending lockout on the horizon, the League must develop the ability to promote its best players in small markets as well. For instance, what makes the NFL so successful is its ability to have two small markets such as Green Bay and Pittsburgh play in the Super Bowl and still have one of the highest rated Super Bowls in history. If the NBA is unable to develop the ability to promote superstars in small markets, then we could clearly see more in-season soap opera sagas like Anthony's, and even possibly see some teams fold.
The NBA is a "players' league". If the players don't like their coach, he will eventually be fired. If a player is unhappy with his current situation, he is able to cause his entire team to tank the season until his demands are met. In the past, players have openly demanded trades, and the League replied swiftly with fines under the premise of "conduct detrimental to the team". Although Carmelo never publicly acknowledged his trade demands, he openly met with other teams, which not only was detrimental to the Nuggets but also the teams involved in the trades because of the different names that were being floated around.
Adding to the notion that the NBA is a "players' league", this past week the Detroit Pistons decided to follow suit of all the protests in the Middle East and Africa and had a little protest of their own. Several veteran players intentionally missed a pre-game shoot-around, resulting in the Pistons only playing six players for the entire game. Actions such as the Anthony saga and the Pistons' player protests set a bad image on the League which it must put an end to.