18

So Long, Adonal

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In another example of how character takes a back seat to production in sports, the Warriors parted ways with its long-time big man. If personality and brains and heart was currency in the world of professional sports, Foyle would be a max player.
Seriously, I can’t say enough about how different and good of a guy Foyle is. If he ran for office, I would vote for him.
From what I was told, Foyle is desperate to play. He has no desire to do the cheerleader at the end of the bench thing again. He doesn’t see himself as a locker room guy whose major contribution is mentoring Andris Biedrins. Foyle wants to contribute on the court, that’s why he was willing to take much less than he was owed, so he can go somewhere he can play.
Sources have told me Foyle has interest from Orlando (GM Otis Smith is a fan of Foyle, and Orlando was the one team Foyle would’ve played for if the Warriors hadn’t signed him) and Utah. My best guess is he will end up on the East Coast, where he fits the style of play better.
Foyle’s departure makes me think how I/we choose which athletes to elevate. We expect and demand star athletes to be role models, to be character guys. Why don’t we make character guys the stars we cherish?
Sure, Kobe Bryant is a jaw-dropping talent, but is he worthy of the praise and admiration? Obviously Michael Vick wasn’t deserving of the status he received. Or maybe he was, if the standard is talent alone.
It seems to me like players of Adonal’s ilk should be more celebrated. Instead, he gets bought out for cheap and sent packing on a boring Monday. No farewell. No exaltation. No recognition for being more than a jock. It just doesn’t feel right.

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Marcus Thompson

  • commish

    Hey, it is good to see you “back in the saddle”. Missed your blog. Although I must say it read more like the finish to Bryan Gumble’s “Real Sports” signoffs with editorial comments about sports. Not that your point is not well said, but we all know character does not put seats in the chairs, except for state and natiional houses of representatives (I jest of course).

    I guess now the remaining unanswered questions are 1. can we find a good S/T for MP; 2. can we get Nellie back for at least one if not two years: 3. do we have any big men who can play to back up Beans other than the untested and not too highly regarded Kosta P and the much maligned POB?

    I will let you answer those questions with future blogs, but for now, I’m glad for Adonal and the team. To me it seems like a big win-win and sends a clear message that the owner and management are on the same page and ready to move forward. I guess getting just a little taste of the playoffs made Cohan and Co yearn for more. Me too.

  • Steve

    From everything I understand, Foyle is one of the great people in all of sports. I have never heard a single bad thing said about the guy except that he couldn’t score a basket while on the court and never performed anywhere near to the level for which he was paid. he will be missed however. There are lots of kids and others he has touched greatly who will miss the Big Man and he has left his large footsteps in places around Oakland celebrities don’t usually want to go. Goodbye Adonal we’ll miss you.

  • drew

    Whoa MT, I started thinking that perhaps Contra Costa Times traded you to the East Coast. Its been a while. Im glad Your back. 2 1/2 months and we get to do this all over again. So with this buyout what do you think is going to happen with the roster spot?

  • gswbandwagon

    No company should elevate (in terms of compensation or other job status) someone who is terrible at their job just because they’re a good person. That’s what the Warriors did and that’s another reason why the franchise has sucked so hard for so long. The only guys who had longer tenure than Foyle at the time of the buyout are Duncan and Bryant, who have 7 rings and about 20 All NBA appearances between them. Foyle has…umm…good people skills? There are a lot of good people out there; are you suggesting that the Warriors go out and sign them instead of people with actual basketball talent?

    Foyle didn’t get “bought out for cheap.” He’s getting $13 million to not be a member of the team. He likely gets his money up front, which is another payout (if he had to wait to get it, the money he’d get would lessen in value due to inflation). From a Warriors standpoint that’s better than paying him $19 million to be a non-contributing member of the team, but that’s hardly cheap.

    When I need a doctor, I prefer one who is a solid human being and a great doctor to one who is a fantastic human being and a bad doctor. Same goes for lawyers, accountants, etc. Same goes for entertainment. I’d rather watch a movie with good actors who are solid human beings than watch terrible actors who are humanitarians. Why should this principle not apply to sports?

    Oh, and Mr Fantastic Human Being milked the Warriors for every penny, even for the difference in sales tax between CA and FL. He then also regularly showed up out of shape.

  • Marcus Thompson

    gswbandwagon,

    This is rare, but you are way off base. For one, they did let him go for cheap. If Adonal stands pat, the Warriors are on the hook for $20 million, for a guy sitting on the end of the bench. You don’t think saving $7 million is a cheap discount. Most NBA buyouts are for 80 to 90 percent of the original contract. The Warriors got off paying 65 percent. That’s buying him out for cheap.

    Secondly, was it Foyle’s fault Mullin overpaid him? Was it Foyle’s fault the team changed directions and went fast-paced? Foyle was a servicable center who hit the jackpot. He’s not better than Jason Collins? ZaZa Pachulia? Kendrick Perkins? Primoz Brezec? Your judgement of talent has been compromised by Nelson’s idea of a center. Foyle doesn’t fit this Warriors squad, that hardly means he’s not a good player. Because he was overpaid, that doesn’t mean he can’t contribute. You know this league. I read your posts. You know NBA centers are few and far between. The Warriors need a center who can score. But New Jersey doesn’t. Orlando doesn’t.
    Plus, who says he should stay? I never said the Warriors need to keep him. I never said he deserved the contract he got. I only said he is someone we should revere more. Instead, because he wasn’t Kobe or Duncan, he’s easily dismissed. We disregard superior characters because of their lack of talent. But then we pile on superior talents because of their lack of character. We can’t have it both ways. Either we want our athletes to be role models, Or we want them to be ballers. If its the latter, then who cares that Barry Bonds is a jerk, Ron Artest is a head case and Michael Vick is a criminal. If its the former, than we need to alter our priorities. Not saying Foyle should get the $100 million contract or lifetime roster spot. But how many endorsements does he have? How many of his jerseys sell? For someone who actually invests into the community, into humanity, he should be a hero.
    How many athletes would have pouted and complained through the media while he rode the bench? Foyle didn’t. I know, because I tried to get it out of him :o )
    It’s just amazing to me how the Foyles and Elton Brands of the league go overlooked and underexposed. And the reason is because ALL we care about is talent. Say what you want about his game, but I’d much rather have my kids rockin’ an Adonal Foyle jersey than just about anyone else in the league. I guess that makes me crazy.

  • warrior4 life?

    wow i cant beleive it.. i was a the night crew manager at grocery store in monclair when foyle 1st was chosen to play with the warriors, when he was in town and played night games a couple times a week he would come into the store with exchange students he let live with him for free and shop for them he would spend 200 to 500 everytime. i would ask if he wanted me to lock the doors so he could shop privately and he would always say no.. there were some stars or athletes that would demand that b done so they could shop in peace but that was not the type of person foyle was… hands down i think this man was the greatest role model i have ever seen. he will b missed and his comunity loss can never be replaced. for this i am truely sorry. i hope karma does not byte the warriors. and he never deserved the bench either

  • Jeff

    Hey Marcus, nice blog. I do have to agree with what you’re saying, that Adonal Foyle and many people like him should get more press, more admiration for the things he does off the court. I think it’s amazing what he has accomplished since he came to the Warriors. I remember pretty distinctly him being interviewed on Gary Radnich’s show on KRON after he was drafted, and now he’s leaving. But sensationalism sells in America. We keep hearing about Paris Hilton or Britney Spears’ exploits, or how Barry Bonds is a jerk because that seems to be more interesting to people. You rarely hear about the graduate students who are putting in long hours performing long experiments in the effort to better humanity, you rarely hear about those special teachers who dedicate each day to helping kids along, and you rarely hear about how a cop puts his/her life on the line everyday because unfortunately it’s not as interesting to people anymore.

    I think gswbandwagon’s point about the $13 mil is that this is a lot of money to anybody who isn’t in the entertainment business (which sports is part of). From a business point of view, yeah Foyle is doing the Warriors a service for accepting this buyout, an example of what a great guy he is. He could have pulled a Marc Jackson and whined constantly, but he didn’t.

    I agree with both of you in that Foyle is a great guy who kids should see as a role model for an athlete with character. But unfortunately, in the entertainment business the flashy, high-flying, scorer is what sells and gets all the press. Foyle was not this, and so he got less attention. And because of the salary cap, Foyle’s large contract garnered attention instead.

    Adonal Foyle is a good guy, who did hit the jackpot and used some of it to help others. I wish him well. However, I know friends who are teachers, academic researchers, nurses who will never smell $1 million let alone $13 million. I hope one day there will be a shift in priorities away from entertainment the way it has been for the past two decades. I remember when Ricky Henderson was the highest paid in MLB in the late 80′s at $3 mil per year, then whined about it when someone surpassed him. Dude, Adonal Foyle just got $13 million.

  • john

    Marcus:

    I admire your praise for one of the best people around. Adonal was/is a great human being who always looked beyond himself to the plight of others and the important issues of the world. There are some fans who can only see Adonal the basketball player. They didn’t know the true intellectual, the committed activist, who looked at the problems of this world, of his community, and worked hard to solve them. He is humble and has humility. He has that great gift on empathy. He will be missed. And, to those Warrior fans who disparage his abilities, there’s not a player around who had more class during his tenure of seven head coaches or who, night in and night out on terrible teams, brought his 100% effort to the floor. I wish him luck and success in the future both in and out of sports

  • EJ

    It’s hard to see a guy like Adonal Foyle leave. I’ve never met him, personally, but from what I’ve seen I sure would have liked to. Guys like Foyle and Richardson are hard to come by in this league. For every one of those “class-guys” there are about two or three knuckle heads like Artest and Sebastian Telfair. We had two of the highest character guys in the league. Like you alluded to, Marcus, they need to be celebrated more. Adonal is going to walk away with $13mil from this buyout. But I highly doubt he’ll be riding in a brand new Maybach or chillin’ in a new luxury beach front home in the O.C. soon after. He’s been a great ambassador to the game as well as to humanity.

    I do have to express my disgust in seeing two of the longest suffering tenured of the Warriors being basically dismissed from the team just when the franchise is on the verge of something great. I guess loyalty only goes as far as the length of your contract. And in this case, not even.

  • Ken

    Marcus,

    Appreciate all the info. and insight you provide on this blog. I’m honestly a lil disappointed we won’t get to see a full season of B didy, Jrich, Jackson, Harrington, and Biedrins as the starting lineup going into 2007-2008. I always felt this was the Warriors most versatile starting lineup that could go up against any team and style of play. We could play run n gun ball, have 4 legit 3 point threats on the floor at any time, and have Biedrins control the paint and always guarding the other team’s best big man. Specifically, why didn’t Nellie go to this starting lineup in the utah series? I know Al struggled in the dallas series (so he started barnes) and by inserting ellis in the starting linuep at times it gave the warriors another dynamic with the 3 guard look, but with the warriors getting killed on the boards throughout the series, why didn’t nellie go with baron, jrich, jax, al ,and biedrins. This would allow biedrins to guard boozer and contain the boards, al (who doesn’t rebeound well) on okur who mainly plays on the perimeter, and jax on ak47.I just felt the frontline matchups in that series were akward: jax guarding okur, barnes getting manhandled by boozer, and biedrins chasing ak47 around. There’s no doubt boozer is a beast, but I just felt that Biedrins had the best chance to contain Boozer even at the expense of getting into foul trouble. The warriors got hot down the stretch with the 16-5 finish and it all started in the detroit game (baron’s first game back) with that starting lineup. Now with jrich gone, what do you expect from the Warriors this upcoming season? Unfortunately, they lost out on the kg sweepstakes, but do you seem them as a playoff team?

  • EJ

    gswbandwagon,

    Did you expect Foyle to turn down 8mil a year from Mullin? I doubt he was a threat to hold out if not given a multi-year deal.

    Loyalty is not defined on how you negotiate your contract. Loyalty is showing up to practice when he was getting no run in the regular season. Loyalty is running hard for the 10 minutes total you were on the floor in the playoffs. It’s sad that you’re diluted perception of loyalty is associated with dollars and cents, or in this case, millions.

    We need more people like him in a league that’s represented to the public by the likes of Ron Artest, Tim Donaghy, and Mark Cuban.

  • petaluman

    Regarding Foyle’s contract:

    First, we weren’t a good team then. He was signed to be our starting center. He started 269 games for us during his career.

    Second, you would have preferred Dampier at $65 million? I think we got the better deal – and Erick is no Nelson center, either.

    It’s a disservice to Adonal, lumping him with Brand and JR. He’s not a just a “good guy” because he stayed out of jail, or was nice to people and didn’t kick dogs. His vision and contributions go far beyond that.

    I’m glad he was here all those years. I wish him the best of luck – I know he really wants to get on the court. I hope we find a way to bring him back after he retires.

  • Joe of SSF

    Adonal’s only fault was his large contract. If he was gettig paid $1.2 million a year, people would rave about his contribution. I don’t understand these supposed fan’s understanding of the game. Adonal provided rebounding, shot-blocking and some interior toughness. To ask him to be the next Tim Duncan is just way outta line.

  • dareedle

    Wow, I haven’t seen so much response on this blog for any other topic. True Warriors have witness the emergence of other franchises during our long playoff drought but unlike the Fakers Fans, we Warriors fans like a loser and we hold on hope that some day it will be different. This is truely the end of an era … from the lowly and overpaid Mullie Core to much higher expectations for a team that can’t rebound or defend. It’s a tough call for fans, an overpaid journeyman center that is a solid citizen and supports the community or some spoiled superstar with tons of highlight film but blasts management and the franchise. We traded in a center, two power forward, a SF and great rebounding SG for a pair of rookies and two perimeter players. Bye bye blue collar ball and say hello to Nellie no defense or rebounding ball.

  • Andrew Rosenblum

    Whoa dareedle — you say, “We traded in a center, two power forward, a SF and a great rebounding SG for a pair of rookies and two perimeter players,” as if that’s a bad thing. You forgot to mention a few things:

    1) the guys we gave up, with the exception of J-Rich, really sucked.

    2) all of them, with the exception of Diogu, were grossly overpaid, hampering our ability to hold on to Baron, Monta, Andris and any other player that could actually play!

    3) The guys we gave up couldn’t play defense or rebound very well either, whereas Jackson is a very good defender, and Harrington is versatile, if not fantastic. Murphy couldn’t guard a barn door. Dunleavy couldn’t guard a fire hydrant. Foyle couldn’t guard anyone because he was always on the bench. Diogu couldn’t guard anybody — and J-Rich was a great hustle guy, and a solid rebounder as you say, but hardly Ron Artest as a defender either. As for Brandan Wright, the jury’s out. But let’s give him a chance before evaluating the swap for J-Rich, who has more-or-less plateau-ed as an excellent transition player who can rebound, play so-so defense, shoots the three with a so-so percentage, can’t shoot free throws very well, and can’t create his own shot.

    I mean, you can’t get talent for nothing, but short of landing KG, I’d say Mullin’s moves over the course of the 06-07 season to the present have been a HUGE improvement.

  • Jeff

    I’m kind of amazed at all the praise Adonal Foyle has gotten. Where have you guys been all these years? Most of the time, I hear how badly he plays–how bad his hands are, how he lacks any sort of offensive moves whatsoever, how he doesn’t run the floor very well, how he doesn’t box out very well, etc. Would I take Erick Dampier over Foyle? No, but that doesn’t really say much either. Was it Foyle’s fault he got a huge contract? No, not necessarily, but one could point out that he could have taken less money from the Warriors. He was the third highest paid player last year.

    Foyle is a decent player who was overpaid. I think his character and actions off the court helped downplay the expectations people had of him with his contract, or at least those few who knew of his off the court activities. But again, people care more for the flash and winning which didn’t occur with Foyle. And in a business setting–which professional sports is basically–he had to go.

  • EJ

    I don’t think there’s a question on what basketball skills Adonal lacked. The praise he’s receiving is more for the type individual he is off the court. For that, he’s been recognized by the truest of Warrior fans.

  • Jim

    Marcus, your second post especially summed up the issue nicely. Personally, I long ago discarded the notion that athletes should be role models for anyone. The very nature of their profession demands that they focus an inordinate amount of attention on themselves – I mean, name 10 well-rounded truly top level athletes. However, I have more respect for Adonal than for any other Warrior because he is so different. I only wish his basketball skills were on a par with his outside life. This is a good move for both sides, and as you say it’s because he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time. I wish him great success in Orlando and I’ll miss him.