Peter Vecsey offers up a heartbreaking column detailing the trials of former Detroit Pistons vice president of publicity Matt Dobek, former Boston Celtics assistant coach Clifford Ray, and former all star Connie Hawkins.
All three received unfair treatment from front offices hoping to save a few bucks. Dobek’s case was the most severe; he took his own life.
On Aug. 21, Matt Dobek, a strict Catholic and devout family man with a legion of faithful friends, hung himself in his family garage. It was a day before his mother’s birthday. He was deeply depressed at no longer being the Pistons’ vice president of publicity. In May, Pistons’ officials had abruptly fired him – fraudulently accusing him of leaking another employees’ pending firing – as well as three other staff members who had pledged allegiance to the franchise for a combined century-plus.
Ray and Hawkins didn’t resort to such drastic measures, but they were both unceremoniously let go as well. In both cases, an unavoidable injury prompted their departures.
Now, of course the NBA is a cutthroat business. Anyone involved knows that’s the case. Employees are expendable. But Vecsey’s point remains: There would be a massive outcry if team execs treated their players like they treated these three men. The only difference is the number of zeroes on the end of the paycheck.