Okay, so there was no training camp. That doesn’t matter. Although it’s nice to get acquainted with the rookies, who needs a bunch of articles about players who will never see the court? Well, then the exhibition season was lost. No problem. Who cares about meaningless games featuring those rookies who will never see the court once the real season begins? But, then NBA commissioner David Stern canceled the first two weeks of games…and then he canceled the second two weeks of games. And he’s on the verge of canceling the entire season. Now, I care.
The NBA season should be in full swing by now and it's not. For weeks, the NBA Owners and the NBA Players Association have been involved in a smackdown over salaries, caps, Basketball Related Income (BRI) and other points. At various times since negotiations began, the Owners have walked out and the Players have walked out of the negotiating room. There are even reports of in-fighting among constituencies. Currently, there is a “final” proposal from the Owners and the Players have until end-of-day on Wednesday to accept it or not. If they don’t, the season will be lost.
Come on!! Note to both parties: YOU NEED TO GET IT TOGETHER!
Celtics v. Heat NBA Game by ReneS via Flickr
The thing that’s so annoying about this whole lockout is that the biggest sticking point is one percent. That’s right: ONE PERCENT. The Owners want more BRI while the Players don’t want to share. Didn't anyone tell the Owners and Players that what they're doing -- locking out players; refusing to play -- is in incredibly BAD FORM these days? Our country is in an economic recession with nearly 10% of the work force not actually working. Doesn't it feel just a little reprehensible for these millionaires and billionaires to be fighting over one percent when people are losing their homes, mortgages are upside-down and many people are one late payment away from homelessness? Isn't it just a little disingenuous for these players -- who have succeeded to the pros not necessarily because they're so talented but mostly because they're tall -- to be striking for more money when the average salary of the NBA pro is over $5 million? Isn't it just a tad sickening that the owners are fighting for one percent when the least wealthy of the owners is worth $80 million and the most wealthy is worth $20 billion?
Right now, neither side looks very sympathetic. No one wants to see millionaires and billionaires fighting over money. It’s in poor taste. If the league doesn’t get it together and come to terms soon, the NBA will be looked upon as the Nefarious Basketball Assholes and few will care about feeding the wallets of these spoiled and wealthy athletes and owners. And then – gasp! – owners will have to own and players will have to play – for love – like they used to in the good old days when the average NBA salary was $17,000.
Because, when you think about it, it’s not all about the Players and the Owners. While these guys are dicking around, the tertiary people who are employed during each NBA season to keep the players happy, the owners in their billions and the fans sated -- in other words, the parking lot attendants, the waiters and waitresses at the arenas, the ticket takers, the T-shirt vendors, the concession stand employees, not to mention the crews that film every game – are left without jobs. These folks may not be able to afford to go to a game on their own but they need to be at the game to serve others. Most of these people are minimum-wage workers who have no wages at all right now.
The Owners and Players need to be reminded that there’s a recession going on and their actions are making it worse! This is the kind of thing the basketball season is good for. Would you rather cheer for your team or be reminded of your own problems? See? Without a basketball season, what are we going to do to fill our days? Continue worrying about our bills? Think about what jobs we’re not getting hired for? Ponder how we’re going to pay for our next tank of gas? We need a diversion. We need the NBA. So, get it together, Owners and Players. Agree on that one percent…or, split the difference and each take .5 of that one percent. If you don’t get on the same page, you run the risk of losing any fans you may still have left.
I need the happiness that comes when I see Kobe going coast-to-coast for a spinning layup or Dwight going in for a monster jam. I need Charles Barkley’s noisy and funny opinions. But, if the league doesn’t start playing soon, I’ll definitely find something else to divert my attention over the long winter.
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