NBA / Aug 3, 2010 / 4:30 pm

Dime’s NBA Power List: Which Players Have The Most Pull?

Kobe Bryant (GQ Magazine)

“This is it.” Whether or not Brett Favre actually means those words is one thing, but either way, the Minnesota Vikings, much of the NFL and many football fans across the country have been sucking furiously on the nipple of the Ol’ Gunslinger for the past few summers. He’s the Han Solo of football. He’s in. He’s out. Back in again. Gone tomorrow.

How many athletes can get away with blatantly and repeatedly testing the power of not only a coach, but also an entire organization? In football, it takes an extra special case; there are so many players and positions that hardly anyone, outside of a quarterback, can earn that kind of clout.

But in the NBA, where one guy can torture or turn around a whole franchise, players have some power and can afford to make mistakes or challenge authority … unless they pull a Sprewell.

So as Favre continues to wield his influence like a 1995 Suge Knight, let’s look at five of the most powerful NBA players:

KOBE BRYANT
Considering he’s had the lone no-trade clause in the NBA since 2004, I would say Bean has a pretty tight grip on the Lakers. And while Dirk Nowitzki joined that esteemed list this summer, the Mamba still runs shit in Hollywood. Guys on the end of the Lakers bench might as well be his personal ball-boys, shoe shiners and laundry go-getters. Ask Josh Powell. But Bryant does get along with a lot of the younger kids on the team and is sort of a father figure to them. And Derek Fisher’s value in the organization skyrocketed when it became clear Fish was the only teammate Kobe really listens to.

Kobe’s influence on this franchise rivals that of any other player in the League, right on down to the treatment he expects his wife and family to receive. And look at every move the Lakers have either made or tried to make in the past few seasons: Bryant has had his hand in everything.

TIM DUNCAN
No coach/player relationship in the NBA is any closer to an even level than Duncan and Gregg Popovich. The Spurs’ organization and front office takes a lot of its cues from the power forward: smart, cunning and content outside of the spotlight. In reality, Duncan is respected and listened to by his teammates on the same level that they listen to Pop. The emotions of the team flow through him. Ever wondered how everyone who shows up there immediately falls in line? R.C. Buford doesn’t do that.

Duncan will assuredly be offered an important position in the organization once his playing days are over. But knowing him, he won’t take it. Power means virtually nothing to the Big Fundamental.

KEVIN DURANT
I thought about putting Chris Paul on this list, but when you play on such a bad team in a terrible market, it limits how much pull you have. Then I thought about throwing in a wild card like Derek Fisher — Kobe’s boy and the President of the NBA Players Association — but 38 percent shooting doesn’t equate to power.

Durant might be only 21 years old and not interested in much besides dropping buckets, but if he wanted to be the man in the Midwest, he could. He has almost single-handedly turned the Thunder into a future title contender, their rise parellel to his own. The next five years will be his.

This situation is eerily reminiscent of Duncan’s early years with the Spurs. Without KD, Oklahoma City would be virtually irrelevant. This team is his. The city is his. Moving forward, most of the Thunder’s decisions will be made with Durant in mind because there is absolutely no way OKC can afford to lose their best player. As an athlete, that’s the pinnacle of power.

LEBRON JAMES
When you can get your neighborhood boys put on the team payroll and your high school buddies roster spots in the Vegas Summer League, you know it’s your world. LeBron had it like that in Cleveland; a homegrown superstar who always had his impending free agency as leverage. Figuratively, the King just brought his throne down to Miami with him.

Chicago was taken out of the running for James this summer after they reportedly said they wouldn’t hire his people. Miami will. The Heat has had a no-headband rule for a while. LeBron was already wearing one at the Miami Thriceapalooza introductions.

While his pre-game and celebratory antics aren’t often accepted as good for the game, LeBron gets away with them — while making everything bigger and better — because he is the largest name in the League.

DIRK NOWITZKI
The big German was able to secure his own no-trade clause this summer amidst re-negotiations with his Mavericks. That basically assures Dirk will finish out his career in the big D. But this situation is funny. Whereas TD and Pop are about as friendly and respectful as any two in that position can get, the relationship between Mark Cuban and Dirk is like an obsessed fan and player, Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes.

Nowitzki was the face of the franchise for the past decade, but did he really deserve it? He’s a great player, one of the best ever from Europe, but what has he ever really won? Most people don’t think he’s a guy who can lead a team to a title. Cuban does, which in turn gives Dirk the power to influence decisions.

Luckily, Nowitzki doesn’t seem to care about the “other” stuff; he just wants to play ball. There was chatter recently about Dallas’ position as a possible destination for Chris Paul. If Nowitzki really wants him, there is a good chance Cuban will go out and get the PG for him.

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  • Marcus

    Shame Dime! y u gotta be talkin about Brett Favre. No one gives a f*** about him. lol

    Other then Allen Iverson, most NBA players make the right decision and retire without having regrets.

    With the exception of Michael Jordan. That dude just has too much passion to not be playin ball. When he retired he musta been bored outta his mind. Golf n baseball aint the same as ballin on the hardwood

  • PeanutButterSpread

    Damn, Kobe looks fly in that GQ shot.

    I’d add Dwayne Wade on to that list. Especially with what happened this summer.

    I disagree about Durant though. Maybe in a couple of more years he’ll have more pull/power, but right now, he’s still on the cusp, where CP3, Deron Williams, and Brandon Roy are sitting.

  • Marcus

    “He’s in. He’s out. Back in again. Gone tomorrow.”

    aint that the reason y LBJ is pissed at Delonte West? ;)

    Or y Tiger Woods is now hated by all bitchy females in the world?

  • Scott

    After this summer, you’d think Wade would’ve surpassed LBJ on this list. He’s like the Don Draper of the L.

  • Stunnaboy09

    Wade takes bron spot. People say Riley was teh genius but fuck it I bet i was Wade telling him what to do behind the scenes.

    I don;t think KD is there yet,, I’d put Kobe, Wade, LBJ, Dirk, Duncan in that order.

  • ecco

    dirk did not win a ring, and with so many good teams around ( lakers, boston, orlando, miami ) and few years left it is likly he will never win one.

    same as reggie miller, same as charles barkley. same as john stockton, same as karl malone.

    what did he ever win? what about fucking MVP, putting up monster numbers and being one of the most unique players in the history of the game with his hight as a center and playstle of a shooting guard.

    he will go down in history togehter with the guys mentioned above as one of the best ever to NOT win a ring and it will be fine, bet he will be HALL OF FUCKING FAME for being the best foreign player off all time.

    and funny how all you suckers flame lebron & others as taking the easy way out, “ring chasers” etc. and on the other hand lable players like dirk who stayed at the team that drafted them from first to last day and give their whole carrer trying to win it in “their” town.

    go make up your fucking mind, greetings from germany ;)

  • ecco

    PS:
    foreign as in really foreing, not some virgin island shit like duncan or getting us citizenship in their 20s like hakeem

  • Ace

    “Chicago was taken out of the running for James this summer after they reportedly said they wouldn’t hire his people. Miami will.”

    Doesn’t that say less about LeBum’s power than about Chicago’s cajones and Miami’s lack of it!!

  • yoda

    diference between kobe and lbj: kobe delivers!

  • christian

    i wouldn’t put dirk on the list. im sure he wanted nash to stay, but that wasn’t heard by the front office.

  • daghost

    @yoda:
    yea the reason why kobe delivers and not lebron is because DELONTE WEST is doing all the delivering in Cleveland.

  • Promoman

    I’d say LeBron has the most pull. Name another player who could get a player (Braylon Edwards) in a completely different sports organization (NFL) traded.

  • wifey

    leHYPE james is a doucher

  • Aussiedestroya

    What about dwight howard? Without him the magic are nothing more than a bunch of shooters. Whilst he does not use his power, without him that franchise is SCREWED!

  • http://www.cnnsi.com JAY

    WTF???! Where’s Mr. Dwayne Wade??

    The title is “Which Players Have The Most Pull?” Last I checked, Wade “pulled” 2 of his buddies to play with him in Miami.

  • SJ

    @JAY – Gotta agree with you. Wade needs to be on here for that simple fact alone.

  • Sporty-j

    Once i saw this list did not include Wade. The most loyal and respectful player in the NBA. I knew it was a Joke and i just knew dime would have Lebron on there somewhere. That 1 guy was right though when he said Lebron has to have a lot of power the way he got Braylon Edwards traded and he in a completely different sport…lol

  • eddie

    LeBron’s power is now based on fetching coffee for Wade. Or at least wearing the yellow cape and booties to Wade’s Bat Cowl and grown up cape.

  • Ian

    ecco
    best european yes best foreign nah.

    someone says kobe delivers???
    sure gasol artest fisher odom bynum help him deliver. bron had delonte and varejao kinda not fair.

  • MSL

    How can you not have Dwayne WAde on top of your list (when you have people like Kobe, Nowitzski and Lebron; who follow D.Wade first)?

    For starters, noplayer in the NBA has a relationship with it’s management than Dwayne Wade does with the Heat and Pat Riley. The Heat President openly relies on Dwayne Wade for direction and to keep his ear to what’s going on in the league and it’s players.

    When you combine the pull he has with his Team President and owner and how he was able to coordinate the biggest free agent acquisition by one team in history (and what he did behind the scenes as ring leader; it’s clear that Dwayne Wade should be at the top of this list.

    When Boston got Kevin Garnett via Old Celtic Kevin Mchale and LA got Pau Gasol from Memphis; Wade realized that they don’t have God Fathers like Jerry West and McHale to gift them great players and championships; so he orchestrated it and did it himself. You noticed, Wade didn’t go to Cleveland or ever consider it (and Bosh went to Miami and didn’t consider Cleveland?

    D wade is clearly the most powerful player in the league and obviously has much pull and respect with Bron (Because he thinks he’s the only player in the league, that he can step to the side and watch him take over a game).

    Keep that in mind Dime.

  • MSL

    PS: I don’t see how Durant makes this list.

    I guess Dime has some affiliated marketing or something with NIke. Lol.

    Durant is a singular player; but last I know he wasn’t engineering all time free agent acquisitions against all odds, pulling Bron to his team, strategizing with his management, agreeing who can play on his team and negotiating in Collective Bargaining like Dwade!

    Durant wasn’t at those collective bargaining meetings or being reported to about it. C’mon Dime!

    Stop the player promotion and address reality.

  • MSL

    Lebron couldn’t be that powerful, if he couldn’t stop Delonte West (from many things), before and after Game 5 in Boston!