A PBA team can do it the right way and still win.
Legendary import Sean Chambers said that was the case for Alaska during his time as he recalled how straightforward the franchise and team owner Wilfred Uytengsu dealt with their players and their contracts.
Sean Chambers on Alaska integrity
“What Fred said your contract was, what he was gonna pay you, what you agreed upon, that’s what you were gonna get. No questions asked,” the former Alaska import said on SPIN Zoom In.
“You were gonna get paid on time. You were gonna get paid what you agreed to, and you were gonna be paid when you guys agreed when the salary was going to happen.”
“We worked with such an integrity when it came to your financial situation,” he added.
Chambers bared he negotiated his own contracts with Alaska as the team’s familial culture gave him direct contact with Uytengsu apart from former coach Tim Cone.
Chambers, who played for Alaska from 1989 to 2001, would occasionally re-negotiate his contracts at the end of seasons.
“I didn’t use an agent, because I had an opportunity where I can go straight to Fred, straight to Tim,” Chambers said, sharing one instance when he successfully asked for a raise.
“‘Okay, I heard Bobby Parks was making, let’s say $25,000. Now like, I’m not quite Bobby, but I’ll do great. If you wanna give me $20,000, I’ll be happy with that.’ ‘Okay, no problem.’”
“So then I knew exactly what I was getting every year,” he added. “To ensure we had a relationship and we had an agreement, he would also give me my first month’s salary before I went back to California. So I would get $20,000 or whatever it was before I’ve even left Manila from that last season.”
Chambers felt having that strong bond between management and players allowed Alaska to follow salary cap rules.
“We were never asking for money under the table,” Chambers beamed. “We were never asking for extra bonuses that we didn’t agree upon. We all knew that what we agreed on our salary was what we were gonna get paid. And we were happy with that, because we also knew that if you won, the more bonuses you got.”
Indeed, the players’ contentment resulted in sustained team success – and that rewarded them individually in return.
“We don’t know what guys were getting paid a lot of money back in 90s or the 80s who were getting paid more than what their salary said. But we do know Alaska won nine championships in the 90s,” Chambers said. “We all know who had that legacy still.”
“We also knew that was gonna last longer than ‘monetary' funds and money would,” he added.
Chambers can’t help but think if other players – especially today in the advent of unrestricted free agency – would sacrifice some individual gains for team glory.
“We knew some players, they would chase money and they would chase different things with different teams. And I wonder if some players, if they can go back and do it all over again, would they rather just win? Cause it’s hard to win,” the six-time champion import said.
“Every now and then I would see some of the local guys and see who has won the most championships? Not a lot of people won more than seven championships as locals.”
“So I was wondering if guys would go back and, ‘You know what? I would rather have one more championship than to go chase bigger salaries and have such roller-coaster careers because they would chase the salary, but they didn’t have the same kind of continuity that they had with the team they left.”