Jaylen Brown thank you letter to All-NBA voters shows class & spotlights impact media has on player earnings
Jaylen Brown who signed the richest contract in NBA history this summer was well aware that in order to be eligible for that contract he needed the All-NBA berth that he received from voters this spring. Jaylen definitely put up worthy numbers this past regular season, but you also needed the voters to choose you.
According to this tweet from Denver Post sportswriter Mike Singer, Jaylen and his agent Jason Glushon sent out thank you letters to Singer and presumably the other known voters who put Jaylen on the 2nd team. Singer calls the note "classy" which it sure was, but the letter also exemplifies some issues with a player's contract numbers being tied to reporters' votes. Some reporters have been accused of carrying the water for teams, executives, agents, and players in return presumably for scoops and sources.
Other reporters have said they'll never vote for the NBA MVP again after being blacklisted by players who didn't get their vote. You never want quid pro quo arrangements between the media and player, agents, owners, and player. Or even the illusion of such.
Brown made upwards of an additional $100 million on his new extension due to being voted on the 2nd team by said reporters. In turn if he didn't make the team, one could say sports media members would have cost him upwards of $100 million dollars. We are already seeing an NBA world where prominent NBA writers seem to be carrying the water for certain executives, agents, teams, and players, presumably in return for scoops and sources. This is not a positive direction for the coverage of the NBA in my opinion.
In the case of Jaylen Brown there were several conflicting things at play. The Celtics had to promote him for an All-NBA team or else they'd look like they were sabotaging a player who already has voiced some misgivings about Boston. But truth be told, if Jaylen hadn't gotten that berth, Brad Stevens and the Celtics would have a ton more financial flexibility to maintain the best team around Brown and Jayson Tatum.
If Brown hadn't gotten the berth, at the minimum Grant Williams is probably retained. The team will now have tough calls with players like Derrick white and Robert Williams in the future. If Brown was making just $40 million a year, there would be a much clearer financial path to retaining both.
Even the NBA's decision to alter Brown's position from guard to front court, helped enable Jaylen to making that 2nd team. Brown was unlikely to get one of the 4 guard spots, while the 6 front court spots game him a much better route.
Then we also have the situation where the sportswriter for another team can in a way help their own team by forcing a rival to have to pay more for their own players. If the Nuggets want to win more titles they need to continue to be elite, but it also helps if their rivals like the Bucks, Heat, Suns, and Celtics don't get better. I highly doubt most sportswriters would abuse that power in the voting, but it is a loophole.
It's also worth noting that even though we live in a very cynical time, it is entirely possible that Brown on his own decided he wanted to thank the media writers who voted for him and asked his agent to provide addresses (or to mail out said letters). Brown seems like the type of person that would do something like this, so that's what I will proceed to believe.
This post is more to touch on what Brown himself eluded to in his letter about the "current system of All-NBA voting and the impact it has on players." It's worth a discussion at least between the NBA and NBAPA on whether they want to keep the same system in future CBA's. Brown is a very popular player amongst the majority NBA media members, but one could see how these super-max contracts could be influenced negatively for less popular players.
Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kyrie Irving are three players that come to mind. All of them are likely past the super-max contract stages of their careers, but there will be new, younger players that will compete for All-NBA spots in the coming years and them being "liked" by the media voters could be an issue. What if Ja Morant decides that he no longer wants to have a social media presence and limits his media availability to the bare minimum in order to avoid any more "incidents"? Will he get less votes than a more media friendly player?
What if there is a player who's politics is less in line with the majority of voters. Like if for example Jonathan Isaac not only remained healthy for a season or two, but took the leap to an All-NBA contender. Would he get less votes than a similarly talented player?
I do think the majority of voters take their responsibility seriously, but it only takes a handful to alter the results. I mean Mark Jackson says he forgot about Nikola Jokic and that's why he wasn't even in his top 5 for MVP voting this year. I recall back in 1999 Rafael Palmeiro won the first base Gold Glove despite starting only 28 games at the position. He was the team's designated hitter for 128 games. DH, also known as the one position where you don't use a glove and play defense.
Again he literally won a Gold Glove playing just 17% of the season's games with a glove. My guess is Major League Baseball didn't pull voting rights from the majority of their media members who voted for Palmiero, and I doubt Mark Jackson will lose his vote. So if you're already dealing with incompetence and at least somewhat of a popularity vote, maybe it's best not to tie $100 million in NBA player incentives to the media.