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Ball Don't Lie

David Falk warns players of owner woes and the tale of Danny Ferry

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Former super agent, and now (happily, we surmise) regular agent, David Falk gave an interview to his local sports gabfest in Washington, D.C. -- 106.7 FM The Fan, featuring Washington Post scribe Mike Wise -- and the entire back-and-forth (as jotted down by the invaluable Sports Radio Interviews) is a compelling must-read.

In it, Falk lends a sensible air of tact and reason to the stalemate between the NBA and its owners. He rightfully points out that the players have to, at the very least, come close to splitting the basketball-related income that the NBA brings in (during the last negotiations, the players walked away with 57 percent of the BRI). The NBA and its owners spend so, so much money that is in no way reflected in the payroll of teams, and the players need to grow wise, no pun intended, to that.

But beyond the lockout back-and-forth, there was this unfortunate tidbit about former Duke standout Danny Ferry, who was highly regarded coming out of college, but chose to head overseas following the 1989 draft -- a draft that saw Ferry selected second overall by the lowly Los Angeles Clippers. Ferry immediately chafed at the idea of taking his talents to the Los Angeles Sports Arena, and with his finely honed NBA knowledge (his father Bob Ferry was an NBA player and longtime Baltimore/Washington Bullets executive) and the help of Falk, he fled toward millions and freedom and ...

Let Falk tell the rest:

"I had a client in 1989 who was the National Player of the Year named Danny Ferry. He got drafted No. 2 by the Los Angeles Clippers, and he had personal reasons why he didn't want to play for the Clippers at that time. His first year, he played for a team in Rome called Messaggero. It was owned by a very wealthy guy named Raul Gardini who was one of the three wealthiest men in Italy. And he made $4 million dollars in 1989. Very few NBA players will make $4 million in 2011 if they go to Europe. And if you ask him since he's been a general manager, the floors were hard, the medical situation wasn't very great, the guys smoked and drank after the games, practices were four hours a day and he really hurt his knees. I'm not sure he ever became the player he could have been had he started in the NBA."

Falk goes on to point out that he doesn't think that NBA players heading overseas during this lockout would be a "wise choice," and that he's used Ferry's time playing in Italy over 20 years ago as a cautionary tale told to his clients.


Is it appropriate in 2011? Possibly. Was Ferry's time in Italy the reason he turned into a role player once he returned stateside? Probably not. Did the trade that sent Ron Harper (among others) to the Clippers for Ferry ruin the career of potentially my favorite player ever, once Harp tore up his knees? Definitely. Is this question-and-answer session a bit tiresome? No doubt.

The entire interview is a must read, though, if to provide some balance on my often caustic takes on why I think the NBA owners are screwing up so, so much. Falk was the biggest hard-liner on the players' end back during the 1998 lockout, wielding nearly as much influence as Billy Hunter until a Shaquille O'Neal-led player revolt (seriously) against Falk and his (mainly, highest-paid) clients shouted him and his influence down. His turn toward a more tactful end this time around is welcomed -- and worth taking in.

And 14 cheers, again, to Sports Radio Interviews for writing it all down for us.

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