Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The NBA Lockout: Third-Party Losers and Their Voice

This is a battle where the only losing participants are the ones watching it unfold.

Two weeks- gone in a flash.  Two weeks of ball games.  A summer of meetings between two groups couldn't settle a disagreement about a system connecting money/business and product/winning, so we watch more meetings unfold before we watch more ball games.

This scene could occur ubiquitously if the lockout continues.  
Melancholy as they are and should be, fans shouldn't be pointing fingers at any one party.  This isn't a game of one vs. one; much to a basketball purist's vexation, this battle is ironically a symbol of poor basketball fundamentals.

There's a lack of preparation: why didn't meetings start immediately after the NBA Finals, and why have there been so many lulls in the discussions?  The NFL's situation this year was abated by quicker turnaround to business after the Super Bowl, and a line of meetings moved briskly.

There's a lack of camaraderie among the ranks:  Stars and superstars can withstand the lack of a check for a few months or even for a year if the lockout is extended, because they can receive funds for putting their signature on teenagers' shoes.  Can rookies and role players do the same?  Understood that players have supposedly prepared for this lockout, and to those that did, kudos for being financially responsible.  But some probably weren't, and some definitely couldn't.  

And not all owners are created equal.  A big-market team with an owner who gives a damn about winning a championship is going to have a different opinion on issues as opposed to an owner who bought a team to play with and make a profit from.

Poor execution from every angle.

Revenue sharing, Bird free agent contracts, non-Bird free agent contracts, the luxury tax- these are the issues these "teams" are battling over, the reasons why the NBA will lose $160 million and players will miss paychecks.  That's also the reason why thousands of arena jobs are in jeopardy.

For those watching, these games aren't fun anymore.  Not when the real games start disappearing.  Not when working-class and middle-class jobs are on the line.  Not when inexperienced rookies and other young players are out of options.  Not when die-hard fans can't root for their home teams.  Not when fans want to see LeBron James, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, and Dirk Nowitzki play.      

Those watching- the third party in this arrangement- may not have a voice in the offseason, but they sure do every late October/early November.    

This battle may continue, and more real games might be cancelled.  At some point, the voiceless losers are going to communicate "enough", and if and when that time comes, the burden of losing will fall on the two sides that waged this summer battle.          

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