With all the ridiculous contracts that get thrown around every NBA offseason, fans are perennially left scratching their heads at the logic behind the dollar amounts handed out to role players. As crazy as some of this offseason’s free agent signings have seemed, I would argue that none of them match up to the madness of the six-year, $34 million deal that Brian Cardinal (a.k.a. “Your Dad“) landed in July 2004.
In his fourth NBA season — after having played a grand total of 184 minutes over his previous three seasons — Cardinal “blew up” and averaged 9.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists over 21 minutes while shooting 47 percent from the field and 44 percent from long range. His previous track record probably led most GMs to believe that Cardinal’s season was a bit of a fluke. But when the Memphis Grizzlies gave him a six-year deal at the full mid-range level, it appeared that then-GM Jerry West must have thought your dad was the real deal.
Today, I stumbled upon this excerpt from a Mark Monteith article in the Indianapolis Star (the story doesn’t appear to be on the Star’s website anymore, but it’s quoted on at least two different sites) that, if true, might be the funniest story ever behind an absurd NBA contract.
An exceptionally well-connected league insider once told me the story of how Brian Cardinal got his mid-level. Seems Memphis owner Michael Heisley, frustrated by general manager Jerry West’s lack of activity, walked into West’s office one day and asked why he hadn’t signed anyone yet. So an exasperated West picked up his phone, called Cardinal’s agent and offered the mid-level on the spot. Then he turned to Heisley and said something along the lines of “There, you happy now?”
Jerry West, everyone! In the history of rash decisions made to appease nagging bosses, that one has to rank right up there. We may never know if this story is true, but I really hope it is. Regardless, that contract helped pay for that boat your dad loves so much, so let’s all be happy for him.