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A Frustrating Headline

Reading down the list of wiretap headlines on RealGM this weekend brought the pleasure of reading this gem: "Despite contract, Hawks' Smith motivated."

Josh Smith received a five-year, $58 million deal from the Hawks this summer, but still appears motivated as he has been taking part in unofficial workouts at Philips Arena, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The report links from there to an insightful interview with Smith done by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Sekou Smith in which Josh Smith made no comments along the lines of the motivated-despite-contract motif.  But the RealGM headline still seems indicative of a sad reality or set of perceptions.

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I'm not even sure of which two possible interpretations to take, both equally misery-inducing.  Does this mean that $58 million wasn't enough for Smith, so there was a chance that he was going to mail it in to stick it to his team for giving him such an impoverishing contract?  Or is the point that now that he has his long-term contract, there isn't necessarily a reason for him to care about the quality of his work anymore?

If that's the point we have reached with our athletes, I'm at a loss.  Either $58 million might not be enough impetus to do one's job, or it might be just enough guaranteed money to make someone not care about his job anymore.  That it is something of a 'surprise' that Smith would do the right thing and keep working hard for his employer is either a poor reflection of professional athletics or of the cynical perceptions that observers have formed of the players.  Here's guessing it's somewhere in the middle.  Ugh.