Bucks Diary

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Senator is being a bit naive


For a man who has seen the political intrigue and phony posturing that goes on in the United States Senate for nearly 20 years, Senator Kohl's take on the Yi situation strikes me as a little naive. In a report from several days ago by WTMJ Channel 4, the Senator said the Yi selection was "risky" (that characterization alone troubles me) but that he was confident that once Yi got to know Wisconsin and learned how close Milwaukee is to Chicago, he would change his mind about wanting to play for the Bucks. He must be joking.

Although I once played host to a man from China who was so mixed-up about the distance from Milwaukee to Chicago that he insisted on taking a cab (I'm not making that up), I really don't think geographical confusion is what is motivating Yi to demand a trade. Nor do I think a dose of good old-fashioned Wisconsin gemutlichkeit will sway his position either. That's because I don't believe Yi himself is the one who objects to Milwaukee in the first place. I think if he had his druthers, he would put on whatever NBA uniform he was told to put on, no matter how many Chinese people lived in the area. In fact, I think the whole "Milwaukee isn't Chinese enough" argument is a complete red herring.

I think Del Harris properly identified the objecting party in this dispute and his hidden motivations when he did an interview last Friday on 1250 AM. The little Wizard behind the curtain is Yi's agent, Darth Fegan... errr... Don Fegan. He, not Yi, is the one who objects to Milwaukee. Harris believes, and I agree with him, that Fegan sees a gold mine of marketing dollars in the person of Yi, and he wants to pan him for all he's worth (Harris explained that Fegan can make only 4% on Yi's NBA deal, but upwards of 20% on any marketing ventures he can generate for his client). And he knows he won't get the kind of dollar deals out of Yi if he's playing in Milwaukee that he might get if Yi were playing in, say, the Bay Area. That's why the Richie Cunningham arguments the Senator is making are just a waste of oxygen. Fegan doesn't care. The only thing that will turn him around is a large dose of what Kissinger used to call "Realpolitik". In other words, coercion.

As I've been saying ad nauseum since the draft, the Bucks ultimately hold the upper hand in this standoff, and they have to realize that and use it. If they want Yi, they have to eat the carrot and brandish the stick. Acting like the Wisconsin Department of Tourism won't do. If you want a guy like Fegan to get the point, as Malcolm X once said, you have to speak to him in a language he understands. Let that moneygrubber know in no uncertain terms that if Yi doesn't sign with the Bucks he will not be playing in the NBA any time soon, and then let him consider where his precious marketing dollars will come from if that happens.

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