Here I Am, Caring About The NBA Lockout

Posted: November 18, 2011 in Basketball, NBA, Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Somebody give Baron Davis (green plaid shirt) a hug. And a job.

You may have noticed that there are no NBA games being played tonight. Or last night. Or the night before. Or tomorrow. Or all weekend. Like many people, you may be completely apathetic toward the lockout. It’s time to snap out of that feeling.

I’ll admit it. I miss the NBA. A lot. Last season was absolutely amazing. From Derrick Rose making the big leap, to the Lakers being wiped out of the NBA like Paris Hilton out of the limelight, to LeBron taking two steps forward then three steps back in the playoffs, to the Mavericks(??!!!!??) winning it all…last year had a little of everything. Good thing holding on to memories is kind of my thing.

I’m not the only one who misses the NBA. I asked my buddy Mike for how he feels about a lack of NBA in his life: “The sound of squeaking sneakers against hardwood courts echoes throughout the arena. No, you’re favorite NBA player isn’t the chopping down the ankles of some hotshot rookie fresh of a mutli-milion dollar endorsement deal for his signature line of shoes ( “For $150 a pair, you can look cool even when getting schooled!”). Rather, those are the sounds of the broken in Chuck Taylor’s that the arena janitor wears while cleaning the floor. IF you haven’t heard, the NBA is about as non-existent right now as Melo’s distribution game. Or better yet, LeBron’s late game heroics. Or even…wait, I’m getting a little emotional at the mere mentioning of these guys. With the lockout steadfast, we won’t know if the Mavericks are one hit wonders or repeat bound (we’ll miss Dirk’s un-guardable jumper along with Mark Cuban’s antics). We don’t get to see how the Miami Heat fare in it’s hopes of claiming not 1, not 2, not 3 (you get the point) championship banners. Can the Bulls pull it together in the playoffs? We aren’t given the opportunity to see if Mike D’Antoni’s run & gun coaching approach works with Melo, Amare’ and the rest of the Knicks (besides Billups, name someone else….I’m waiting). The Celtics aren’t given another (I stress that word) season to recapture the glory of their new Big 3 days. Are the Lakers too old to contend? Will this be the year Kevin Durant wins an MVP and lead the Thunder to the Promised Land? If you ask the NBA’s owners and players, these statements and questions really don’t matter. What matters is money. What matters is greed. Ask David Stern and 53/47 odds he agrees about not caring or holds a meeting about changing those odds to 55/45. The arena workers & small businesses located within arena proximity, league & team employees, and fans have no regard as far as the NBA is concerned. NBA Cares? Hardly. No Christmas games, All-Star Weekend, late playoff pushes or dramatic 7 game series. Basketball went from a game to a business, and we all managed to lose (embrace the irony; makes perfect sense). But all these questions, our complaining and sense of loss can vanish in the blink of a last second, half court heave. If the ball falls in the basket when the buzzer sounds and an agreement between owners and players is reached, we celebrate with champagne. A salvaged season is better than no season. But if that shot misses, then we’ll be left like every other team who has ever lost: there’s always next year………..hopefully. Until then, your simulated season on NBA 2K12 will have to suffice.”

There’s probably not going to be a season. Not only did the players reject the most recent offer by the owners, there are no plans to meet anytime soon. I’m going to throw out the thought that neither side WANTS to meet. So, here we are in what David Stern calls the “nuclear winter” of the NBA season. That’s…lame.

Of course, you wouldn’t know that there was an ongoing labor dispute with one of the major sporting leagues (Thanks a lot, Penn State!) thanks to an up and running football season (Hey, have you heard of that Tim Tebow guy? Man, he sucks!). I asked on Facebook to rate how much you cared about the lockout on a scale of one to ten. I think the average score as a 2.5—and that’s being nice. What’s been most appalling to me is that people are happy to talk about how they don’t care about the lockout. Sure, you don’t have to be a fan of the NBA. You could be one of the delusional types that actually believes that college basketball is better (It’s okay, I’ll just pray for you). But that doesn’t mean that this lockout won’t have long reaching effects.

Mild digression, hang on: (I think the thing that upsets me the most about the lukewarm reaction is how much people DON’T know. I was browsing a Facebook post from a local television station based in Columbia, SC. They asked if people cared about the lockout. As expected, most of the response was “I don’t care!” Now, it’s debatable whether I should expect people from South Carolina to be smart. But the “based on no proof” responses got my blood boiling. Someone said, “I think it’s so selfish when players strike”. But…it’s not a strike. The players are being locked out by the owners. This means that the OWNERS DON’T WANT THE PLAYERS TO PLAY UNTIL THEY [players] AGREE TO THEIR DEMANDS [owners]. THAT. IS. NOT. A STRIKE. Another person noted how the players should get over it since they’re getting million dollar checks. Well, that would be nice—if it were true. Of course, my favorite comment mentioned how these were all overpaid thugs. Lines like that make me wish that they did censor the Internet. No, really.)

I’m going to try to explain the dispute in a nutshell: The collective bargaining agreement that was in place was quite favorable to the players. (Of course, that’s kind of a moot point, since we like the NBA because of…um, the players in it) The owners wanted to have more of the BRI (basketball related income—raise your hand if you knew that before I just said it) in order to create more “competitive balance.” The owners (and David Stern, who represents them as commissioner) have offered a 50-50 split of the BRI, with reductions in guaranteed contracts, among other concessions. The players have rejected every offer put forth by the owners, which doesn’t really…help. At all.

I think that both sides are full of themselves. The owners are already rich, no one on that side is going to miss a meal. It’s no one’s fault that they put idiots in charge of their teams…idiots who think it’s okay to give Joe Johnson and Rashard Lewis 100+ million dollar contracts. (Don’t know who those guys are? THAT’S THE POINT) Also, the idea of competitive balance is silly. The Bulls were good because they drafted well and made smart choices in adding talent through trades and free agency. But it took a while. The Bobcats are bad because they drafted college players who were popular in the state of North Carolina, and trade away anyone who actually contributed in multiple areas. Changing the way the money is distributed won’t change the way that the Bulls and Bobcats are run as respective franchises.

However, the players are full of themselves too. I’m not going to throw out the word “greedy”, because these are the best basketball players on the planet. Professional athletes as a whole make lots of money, yes. But…once again, they’re the best in the world at what they do. Anyway, the American public as a whole has had to make concessions over the past few years. Many companies are cutting pensions, no longer matching 401(k), (in some places) going to higher insurance premiums, (or no insurance at all) and laying off employers left and right. We’ve had to give back more and get less. Why can’t these guys do the same? Do they not realize that the offers will only get worse? Do they want to play at all this year? Some players were running a #letusplay campaign on Twitter. Hey guys, here’s a way to play: ACCEPT THE OFFER FROM THE OWNERS. Wait, too late.

Look, there are legitimate reasons to care about the lockout. The players have decided to de-certify the union, and try to take the owners to court. This happened during the NFL lockout (which could have ended with the players being forced to play without pads or helmets, yet no one would care because WE GOT FOOTBALL BACK EVEN THOUGH IT DIDN’T GO AWAY). Taking it to the courts actually made things worse in the NFL lockout. When unions don’t get their way, I’m sure they’ll think to de-certify (Maybe they won’t, BUT JUST LET ME FEAR MONGER YOU). Of course, that won’t help things. Also, there are plenty of other people (people working in the concession stands, cheerleaders, um…other people behind the scenes!) who don’t have jobs because of this lockout. More unemployment is EXACTLY WHAT THIS ECONOMY NEEDS. Oh, wait, that’s not true?

Of course, I’m an outlier. I will absolutely be there to watch when the NBA comes back. Of course, I watched when the MLB came back from the strike. In a related story, I once woke up at 4 in the morning to catch a live tennis match. Set my alarm, even. So, there’s no doubt that I’m going to be back. But what the NBA doesn’t realize is that Mike and I are in the minority. Those comments I saw on Facebook seem to be the norm. The NBA really blew it by not figuring this thing out before it was too late. If David Stern thinks that this is a nuclear winter now, just wait until things get “resolved”. The toxic nature is going to be coming from the fans that were left by the wayside.

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