What If Professional Athletes Could Only Play On One Team Their Entire Career?

I saw that NBA Legend Tim Duncan was hired as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs under head coach Greg Popovich. Duncan was an amazing player and person that suited up all 19 years in the Spurs uniform.

Duncan helped to destroy the Cavs in the 2007 NBA Finals.

What if every professional athlete was like Tim Duncan and played for the team that drafted them for an entire career?

In Cleveland, players like Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Lou Groza and Gene Hickerson played their entire careers here.

To be honest, I am aware of the many flaws with this idea. This is more of a hypothetical and for fun to think about than anything. We’ll start with the benefits first.

1. The Draft Becomes an Even Bigger Event Than it Already is.

This would be picking players that potentially could play the next 20 years from your team. You better have a great scouting team or else it could turn into a disaster. The pressure to pick the best and not screw up with someone that ends up sucking would be absolutely immense.

2. The Front Offices Would be in Charge – Not The Players

I don’t love the superteams or how players talk and end up joining up with each other. It takes a lot of the competition away compared to true rivalries being formed. Examples of this are the Miami Heat earlier this decade, the Cavs in 2015-18 and now a couple of teams such as the Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets and more.

3. This idea of “Big Market” or “Location” is gone…

I hate how the Yankees can always sign players by dishing out the massive contracts since the MLB has no salary cap. Teams like our Indians have no chance of keeping the star players. Also, take LeBron James, for example. Both of his moves out of Cleveland were to Miami and Los Angeles. A lot nicer places than Cleveland, Ohio. It’d be interesting to see how players would do if they were stuck in the same city for an entire career.

Finally, I believe the meaning of winning would mean so much more. It would be built from the start and not just players bouncing around and teaming up to create teams that are obviously great. The aforementioned Duncan’s Spurs are such a great example of this way to win.

Those are my major points. Yeah, some of this stems from my devastated 2010 self that never got over LeBron leaving the first time.

Ok, let’s talk about all the issues with this idea.

First, I’d feel bad for the players. Say you’re actually really good. Good enough to play 20 years in the league. Having to stay with one team is a lot to ask for…

Free agency and trades add a lot of interest to the game even during the offseason. While the draft would actually be crazy, these two concepts would become obsolete because players wouldn’t be going anywhere.

Additionally, “tanking” or subtly trying to lose almost on purpose to get a better draft pick would become a huge trend…

What about players that sort of suck? We all hear about the guy who was a bust and then the next year got a chance with another team and ends up doing fine. Former Cavalier Anthony Bennett is a good example of this. He just got a training camp contract with the Houston Rockets after being terrible in Cleveland. Would players that ended up getting cut be banned from the league?

How would salaries work? I’d see it like arbitration in baseball where a court or group of people determine what a player is worth for so many years and then it is relitigated after that period of time served expires.

After going through the pros and cons, obviously, this is not possible and will never happen.

I wish more players would stick it out their entire careers with one franchise like Tim Duncan did. I know LeBron came back and won a title in Cleveland, but what would it have been like had he been here all along?

There’s something about a player that goes his entire career with one team that I just admire. It’s rare and one could argue that the circumstances worked out, but it’s still very special.

Now, if only we could keep Fransisco Lindor his entire career…

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