- Roy S. Johnson, Contributing writer, ESPN.com
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Tomorrow, go tell you boss you've had enough. Say that despite her best efforts through the worst economy in our lifetime, despite her vision for the company you work for, it's not working for you and you want out. In fact, you demand out. You want to be "traded" to your company's competitor, or at least to another company in the same or a similar industry.
Then let me know how that goes for you.
Don't let the door hit you in the --- on the way out.
I'm just sayin'.
I'm sick of trade demands, done with them.
I'm sick of Carmelo Anthony and his passive-aggressive (though much better managed than LeBron's "I'm out") demand to leave Denver, the team that drafted him, the team that built around him, the team whose cancer-fighting coach says he'll be "sad" if the star player leaves.
Toss Carson Palmer into the mix, with extra sauce. The underachieving quarterback of the underachieving Cincinnati Bengals reportedly has told his team he wants out. After being just as much a part of the problem as any other Bengal this season -- one season after the Bengals were division winners -- he demanded last week to be traded.
When I first heard this, I laughed out loud. So you've been so good you don't think the franchise is worthy of your "talents"? Please! Mike Brown -- the Bengals' owner, Palmer's boss -- probably didn't laugh. He told Bengals.com that Palmer's demand was moot. "We are not taking offers," he said. Already, Palmer is in a precarious situation that is not likely to get any better soon.
Anthony and Palmer aren't the only athletes, of course, who've demanded new zip codes. In this new era, the trade demand is about as ubiquitous, it seems, as Twitter opinions about Jay Cutler's heart. Randy Moss? Brandon Jacobs? Anquan Boldin? All NFL players who demanded trades (or allegedly so) when their feelings were hurt -- either due to lack of playing time or an unsatisfactory contract.
The NBA has been rife with disgruntled stars, most notably New Orleans point guard Chris Paul, who demanded (or didn't, depending upon whom you believe) last summer that the team ship him out (preferably East) when the Hornets looked to be sliding backward (at best).
Just about a year ago, then-New York Knick Nate Robinson was fined $25,000 when his agent broke a league rule against making trade demands through the media. After Robinson was benched by coach Mike D'Antonio for eight straight games during the worst of the Knicks' not-quite-forgotten dog days, agent Aaron Goodwin told The New York Times: "I want to do what I can to get Nate out of New York. There's no reason to allow this kid's career to get rotted by what's going on here in New York." (Ultimately, that worked out pretty well for Robinson, who was traded to the Boston Celtics and has become a key contributor on a championship contender.)
I couldn't be a sports owner. I couldn't take the high road when one of my star players -- someone to whom I am paying millions -- demands out when things aren't going well.
Or even worse, for no really good reason, as Melo seems to be doing. (And just because your buddy LeBron jilted Cleveland for South Beach isn't a good reason.)
Not when too many Americans -- almost 1 in 10 workers -- would just love to have a j-o-b.
Sure, there are some situations in which a trade demand is justified. Few would criticize Donovan McNabb for demanding to be rid of Mike Shanahan. No one besides Timberwolves fans begrudged Kevin Garnett when he quietly said he was done in Minnesota (key word: quietly) after giving the Timberwolves passion and pride for more than a decade.
And often a trade "demand" is really more of a cry for help -- a desperate attempt to push the team to either make a coaching change (see: Magic Johnson) or acquire more talent (see: Kobe Bryant, Paul and many, many others).
But for the most part, the trade-me-or-trade-me player comes off as selfish and self-righteous.
That's not a good look.
To his credit, Anthony has handled his demand with maturity and professionalism (even as he was booed by fans in Denver who, like many of us, had grown weary of the trade drama). He has reached out to peers for advice and followed a script that should allow him to come out on the other side unscathed -- with his rep and popularity intact.
In the midst of trade rumors, he and the Nuggets have played so well it makes me wonder even more just why he wants out, why he refuses to sign an extension with a team that remains, while not among the elite, among the most exciting and competitive in the very tough Western Conference. Since New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov -- the reigning Most Interesting Man in Sports -- said last week that his team was no longer interested in Anthony (wink), the forward has averaged just under 30 points in four games, during which the Nuggets won three. (As of Wednesday morning, Denver is 26-18, seventh in the West. The woe-filled Nets have also gone 3-1 since deal-is-dead day, losing only by a point to the Dallas Mavericks.)
The lure for Anthony seems to be an alliance with Knicks MVP candidate Amare Stoudemire that could challenge the Miami Heat's inevitable dominance of the East and produce a perennial title contender.
Anthony's competitive fire is admirable; just not his methods.
Moreover, he should be mindful that just as the best sports trades are often those not made, some of the most fruitful demands have been those that were rescinded. It hardly seems like only three years since Bryant famously -- and very publicly -- demanded to be traded to the Bulls because he did not feel that the Lakers were providing him with enough talent to be a contender. Of course, the deal didn't happen, though it did drag the Bulls into a decline from which they are just now recovering (and may have helped them net MVP-to-be Derrick Rose). The Lakers instead pilfered Pau Gasol from Memphis, and the player Bryant then thought was a bust has turned out to be a beast, a critical (and youthful) piece in the Lakers' effort to now reach their fourth straight NBA Finals and win their third consecutive title.
So be careful what you demand, Carmelo. What you're looking for just might be right at home.