by Jon Loomer

League Office | Knicks GM Fired -- Reality TV | Public View

Taken from a PFC promotional article on September 16, 2006:

It is my baby, but do I really want to put my name on the line like that? Recipe for disaster because if my record falls under .500, you can bet I'll have a gigantic target on my back come cut-down day. But I'm not completely ruling it out. I've competed against the public before, and I'm not afraid to have my butt handed to me on a global stage. Ok, I'm concerned. Not afraid.

What was I thinking?

Technically, I did not participate. Technically, I was not voted out. The reality, however, is that I was voted out of the contest I created.

If you didn't catch it, Matt Wurst was fired (according to him, he resigned) last Thursday. Matt graced these pages every Friday with an article recapping the league and providing some interesting tidbits on participants, transactions and other useful information. Matt, technically, was the commissioner of the PFC. He was the face of the league.

All true. But I will step up and accept responsibility for his downfall. Matt begged me to participate in this league back in September. He wanted to run the Knicks. I wanted someone internally to run the league, and I really didn't want that person to be me. I dreaded being the guy who started this competition, joined it, and then got voted out by his own rules.

So, it was the perfect cover for me. Matt Wurst would have his team and his article, and I would run the league behind the scenes and occasionally give some input on the management of his team. Great in theory. Problem was, I couldn't keep my dirty hands off.

It started innocently enough. I set up the league, inserted Matt as the commish and GM of the Knicks. Since I had a better understanding of the competition and Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner, I set myself up as a co-owner so that I could help fix problems, settle disputes, etc.

Then the draft started. Spreadsheets out. Crunching numbers. Swinging deals. Matt would stop into my office, make a suggestion, and I'd nod and ignore. I drafted that team. It's my bad. And yet, I'll defend those selections to my death -- or at least until the end of this season. I'm not going to babble any more than I already have about the bad luck of that roster. It just happened.

Mid-day Wednesday, it became increasingly evident that Matt and I would be the first people fired from the PFC. The first step was denial. Something had to be wrong. Someone is hacking the system. Notify the authorities, sound the alarms, we are being hacked!

That lasted a few hours. Then came acceptance. We have the perfect alibi. Our team was good, we simply suffered from injuries and the disadvantage of starting with the Knicks. Sure, we had the worst record in the league, but our franchise player was Stephon Marbury (whom would you have chosen from the Knicks?) and our remaining four "top" players were all hurt on vote day. And as the "big, bad commissioner," there's no way the public was going to let us stay -- whether we had six wins or 14. Great alibi, right?

Problem was, our players weren't hurt the entire time. All were healthy week one when we lost 6-2. From there, we lost one player at a time, but it wasn't as if we were crippled from the beginning. But you don't know that. As far as you know, we had a great roster that suffered bad luck.

So we get out before the whole world discovered that we were idiots. I'm cool with that. I'm at peace. As much as I wanted to continue to compete, the stress was killing me. Staring at live stats, hoping there was a mistake. Seeing that it was the second quarter and no stats next to Cassell's name. It was torture. I think I can speak for Matt when I say that we're grateful it's over.

The New Guy Makes a Splash

So there was a new GM of the Knicks. You'll remember my initial concerns about running the league was that all private leagues need a commish. If we were removed, there would be no commish. Well, true and false. We created this game, we can do whatever we want. New Knicks GM inserted, commish privileges taken away. I manage from afar. Afar, afar away.

The new guy didn't take long to make his presence known. You may have heard that Allen Redmon was called up from the PFC Knicks D-League to replace the embattled GM's. He hated his roster, and he made that obvious by making an immediate overhaul. Matt and I never made a regular season trade. Allen, on the other hand, wasn't going to sit idly while his players... sat idly, nursing injuries. On day one of his new gig, Allen made the following move:

New York Knicks send Peja Stojakovic, David West and Hilton Armstrong to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Memphis Grizzlies send Nate Robinson, Etan Thomas and Mike Dunleavy to the New York Knicks.

Wait. Something's missing, right? Where is the other player -- the star player that the Knicks are getting? Keep searching. Must be a mistake. Allen. Allen. ALLEN!!

When I created this competition, I didn't completely know what I was getting myself into. I had an idea. I knew I'd have egos and disputes to deal with. Even so, I felt incredibly relieved to lose responsibility of the Knicks. One less thing to worry about. Now, just click to approve trades, write a weekly article, and enjoy the view. Life is good.

And then we have our first disputed deal of the season. By the new guy. On the first day of his "employment." The protests start pouring in. Thirteen of them, to be exact. People were freaking. I couldn't blame them, to be honest. After all, I drafted that roster, so I probably had more appreciation for the players he was dumping than anyone. In just about any league, this deal would have to be vetoed.

But, what we keep forgetting is that this competition isn't your typical league. If you don't produce, you can be fired. It's head-to-head, which means that you have to be as close to full strength as possible every single week to win your match-ups. As good as that roster may look on paper, he couldn't have four injured players. As it was, he was down 8-0 for the current week. He needed to do something to compete the following week. And you can't compete if your players aren't playing.

Also remember that he was starting with Hilton Armstrong as his starting center. Yeah, my bad. Actually, I blame Andrew Bogut and Antonio McDyess for that. Bogut was supposed to be out for the first month or two with an injury. I had drafted Dan Gadzuric in the meantime. By the time Bogut returned, McDyess would have center eligibility. No, no and no. So, here you go. Take Hilton Armstrong and his two minutes per game.

Etan Thomas, then, was a major upgrade. The guy was at least playing. Same with Nate Robinson and Mike Dunleavy. And don't forget that this is a 30-team league with eight-man rosters. Not to mention that the 30 participants are all very knowledgeable, so finding value on the waiver wire is an incredible challenge. So, before you say that the guy could have picked up players comparable to Robinson, Thomas and Dunleavy off of the scrap heap, think again. They have value in this league.

Finally, look. His hand was forced. He had to make a deal. He had to make a deal, and he was the new guy. Prime target for people to try to take advantage of that. Tough situation for the new guy.

I know. I know, I know, I know. He could've gotten more. Had to have been able to get more. That said, did Memphis really do that well in this deal?

Keep in mind everything I've said. Deep, deep league. Two player bench. Injuries kill you. By making this deal, Memphis now has a roster that looks like this:

Damon Jones (CLE - PG)
Morris Peterson (TOR - SG,SF)
Peja Stojakovic (NOK - SG,SF)
Andrei Kirilenko (UTA - SF,PF)
Hilton Armstrong (UTA - PF,C)
Jason Williams (MIA - PG)
David West (NOK - PF)
Pau Gasol (MEM - PF,C)

One of the arguments I kept hearing against this deal was that it gave Memphis an unfair advantage. Really? Sure, if he gets healthy he will be a tough team to contend with. But doesn't history tell us anything? An injury now is often a nagging injury a month and two months from now. Morris Peterson is hurt and lost his starting gig. Peja is hurt. Kirilenko is healthy (?!), but underperforming. Armstrong is... healthy, but rarely playing. Jason Williams just returned from an injury. West is hurt. Gasol has been hurt for a long, long time. This is a roster of DNP's.

In fact, this is potentially the next Knicks. Nice on paper, no production. We'll see what happens, but I think this was potentially a great deal for Memphis, but they were the wrong team to accept it. They could not afford the injured players. They don't have the space or the patience to wait around. In fact, it is highly likely that they will be facing elimination at the end of this month. How incredibly ironic would it be if Memphis got voted out for making a trade that was protested because it gave them an unfair advantage?

That deal was a mess, but my main man Allen wasn't done wheeling and dealing. Monday night, this deal came in:

New York Knicks send Sam Cassell, Stephon Marbury and Sasha Pavlovic to the Seattle SuperSonics.
Seattle SuperSonics send Dorrell Wright, Earl Boykins and Rudy Gay to the New York Knicks.

Allen. Allen. ALLEN!!

Have to make a different argument to defend this deal. The Knicks have an uphill battle. Now, he is dealing players while they have value -- assuming they will lose value -- for players with upside. Can you tell he hated the team that Matt and I assembled? In a matter of four days, the new Knicks GM dealt away six of his inherited eight players. The players remaining, pleading for mercy, are Antonio McDyess and Larry Hughes. His best player is now... Larry Hughes? Tough. You never know, though. Team looks horrible on paper, but it's a healthy team. This is not your typical competition, and Allen is a 15-year fantasy veteran, university professor, and scholar. He's no dummy.

In the end, the question with both deals was "Veto or No Veto?" When any deal is up for dispute, I follow a simple litmus test, and I encourage you to do the same:

1) Was collusion involved? Clearly not in this case. Would be extremely coincidental if the new guy also knew one of the competitors in the PFC. There was a process of weeding through 9,000 applicants. Then Allen Redmon also had to beat the rush to sign up for a D-League team. Once he signed up, he also had to be leading the best team in the Knicks D-League. Only possible way there was collusion is if these two became friends in about three hours. Highly unlikely.

2) Are both teams trying to improve their teams? Yes. They may not have succeeded -- either of them, really -- but the attempt is there. In reality, the Knicks did improve themselves for the short-term since they have warm bodies. Yet to be seen whether they'll be better over the long term.

3) Will this deal threaten competitive balance of the league? Again, I don't think so. Memphis got a good deal on paper, but also took a major risk. If they need to wait multiple weeks to get healthy, they will lose badly.

In the end, I hate vetoing deals, especially in a competition like this one. Unless I have serious suspicions about participants or reservations about someone's knowledge or commitment level, you have to let the deal go. Truth is, West and Peja may not return -- that's the fact of injuries, no matter how insignificant they may now seem. If I stopped that deal, I would have prevented the Knicks from competing.

As a commissioner of your league, you should go through similar though processes, though there are no hard and fast rules. Things also change when the trade deadline and playoffs approach, and nothing is a bigger risk to a league than an apathetic and knowledgeable owner willing to ruin everyone's fun.

With each trade review, we learn something new.

Peja for Dunleavy. "High five!"
(D. Lippitt/Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

PFC Quick Facts
The PFC is a global fantasy basketball competition with 30 of the world's best players vying for the title.
More than 9,000 people worldwide applied for the opportunity to compete.
Each participant is the fantasy general manager for an NBA team. Each GM picked a franchise player from their assigned team and built their roster - with players from any other NBA team - from there.
Every general manager has selected eight players for their fantasy squad.
Participants run the risk of losing their spot in the competition should they underperform. The public votes who will lose their job, and another top applicant will take over as a new GM.
For more in-depth information on the PFC, read here.

Eastern Conference

CENTRAL W L T
Detroit Pistons 24 15 1
Cleveland Cavaliers 22 18 0
Indiana Pacers 18 21 1
Chicago Bulls 16 22 2
Milwaukee Bucks 16 23 1

ATLANTIC W L T
Toronto Raptors 22 18 0
Boston Celtics 20 18 2
New Jersey Nets 19 19 2
Philadelphia 76ers 15 23 2
New York Knicks 6 33 1

SOUTHEAST W L T
Miami Heat 30 8 2
Atlanta Hawks 23 16 1
Washington Wizards 22 18 0
Orlando Magic 16 22 2
Charlotte Bobcats 17 23 0

Western Conference

NORTHWEST W L T
Portland Trailblazers 32 7 1
Utah Jazz 23 16 1
Denver Nuggets 23 17 0
Minnesota Timberwolves 19 19 2
Seattle SuperSonics 16 24 0

PACIFIC W L T
Los Angeles Lakers 17 20 3
Golden State Warriors 17 21 2
Sacramento Kings 16 23 1
Los Angeles Clippers 14 26 0
Phoenix Suns 10 30 0

SOUTHWEST W L T
Dallas Mavericks 25 14 1
San Antonio Spurs 23 14 3
New Orleans/OK Hornets 24 15 1
Houston Rockets 20 20 0
Memphis Grizzlies 19 21 0