Pro athletes no longer stay with one team

Al Kaline, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker played their entire Major League Baseball careers with the Detroit Tigers.

Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom didn’t skate for any other NHL team than the Detroit Red Wings.

And Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons, Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, John Stockton of the Utah Jazz and Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers all starred for one NBA squad during their careers.

At one time, player and team loyalty meant something. Both parties liked the stability playing entire careers in one place brought.

Not any more.

LeBron James’ latest free agent move – from the Miami Heat back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, of all places – brought to mind how pro sports careers in one locale are a thing of the past.

Free agency and the ever-changing pro sports landscape has seen to that change.

Players are now more than ever looking for more money, to play for a championship-contending team, or both. They have more freedom of movement than ever and are taking advantage of that opportunity.

You can’t blame them. Anyone with a chance to make more money, whether it be in pro sports or any other business, is likely going to make a move.

The business of pro sports has also helped bring a change. The pressure to win is perhaps more pronounced now than at any time in the past.

Teams will jettison long-time players if they think the move(s) will improve ticket sales and-or make the teams more championship-worthy.

Even if a player wants to spend his entire career with one team, he might not have the chance if his employer is driven to succeed whatever the cost.

Salary caps also have something to do with increased player movements. If you want to stay both competitive and cost-conscious, sometimes you have to trade or waive a veteran player and possible fan favorite in order to stay within league rules.

Pro players may spend many years with one team if the money – and team circumstances – allow that to happen.

But players spending lengthy pro careers with one team are no more. It’s just the way it is.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is cremsburg@miningjournal.net.