A press release from Dallas said Derek Fisher requested to be waived by the Mavericks so he could spend time with his family. No one can ever question Fisher’s character. He was a major factor in the negotiations for the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), a level head in a room of . . . unlevel heads. He can be remembered for, among other memorable plays, returning at game time and ultimately knocking down a crucial three to help the Jazz beat the Warriors in Game 2 of the NBA playoffs. He had been with his daughter for her complicated, delicate eye surgery and flew from New York to Salt Lake City.
Although Fisher had built up enough equity with fans, what doesn’t quite pass the smell test is his excuse for retiring. Players who want to spend more time with their families usually are guys whose ability has waned to where they no longer can make significant contributions to their clubs. If family time was so important, different decisions would be made and more families would stay together. There actually are players and coaches who work in the professional ranks without divorce or hard feelings.
What must be done is to prioritize properly. The NBA schedule is brutal (as are all the other professional sports leagues). For a select few (emphasis on few), the answer is to keep the family together during the season. Obviously, this can only work if the player is married with children who aren’t of school age. It’s expensive and because most teams don’t allow non-team personnel on their charters, it becomes one agonizing experience after another for the wife.
The better solution is to understand that family time together is limited. Therefore, when everybody’s together, make it quality time. I know - and have worked with - many coaches who realize that, while they may be physically tired from the stress and travel of a long season, when they get a day off, nothing interrupts family time, whether it’s a cookout, catching a movie or going to a school performance.
Players who claim they’re giving up their career so they can have more “family time” simply means their skills have eroded and no team’s offered them a contract. In too many instances, they sacrifice their family for their career which is a shame when they could have both. In no means am I giving marital advice, but I often wonder why some of those guys are in such a hurry to get married. Worse, yet in vogue today, are those who bring children into the world only to become absentee dads.
No matter what someone’s salary is, the fact remains:
“Making a baby is not the same as being a father.”