I know professional sports is a cold-hearted business without much room for loyalty or sentimentality.
But did the Los Angeles Lakers have to cut San Diego State alum Brandon Heath one day before the Lakers played their annual exhibition game at the Sports Arena on Tuesday against the Charlotte Bobcats?
Couldn’t they wait one more day to let one of the Aztecs’ all-time greats make an appearance? After all, they don’t have their final roster cut down until Oct. 27.
The exhibition game a chance to appeal to San Diego’s fans, and in this case it should have been a feel-good moment for San Diego State’s fans.
Cutting Heath unceremoniously is a move I’d expect from the Los Angeles Clippers, the franchise that Donald Sterling hi-jacked from San Diego by driving it into the ground and then pleading he had to move it to Los Angeles for financial reasons.
Sterling is a guy from whom you’d expect a classless move, but we see the Lakers in San Diego as the good guys of the NBA.
At first, I was willing to dismiss the Lakers’ move as simply a matter of it being pro sports. It’s a business. But then I went to the Bobcats’ locker room to interview Charlotte’s Jared Dudley and ask him about his San Diego homecoming in the same game. Dudley, a backup forward from Horizon High, was granted a chance to start the game — his first start of the preseason in his second NBA season.
And better than that, Dudley says veteran Gerald Wallace asked head coach Larry Brown to start Dudley in place of him. After all, it’s just an exhibition game.
“I think Gerald talked to coach and they decided to let me start,” Dudley said. “Gerald is an unselfish leader on our team, and it says a lot about our team that he would take upon himself to let me start.”
I’ve pretty much quit watching the NBA since the game changed into a pushing-and-shoving match after the era of Magic, Larry and Michael. The Lakers’ trip to San Diego didn’t do anything to win me back, and I don’t think I’m alone in that regard.