I mean, you could be forced to watch Whitney. You could be in one of those tribes in the Amazon that have never seen other people and think when a plane flies over it’s some kind of dark magic or an iron bird. You could, I don’t know, be up in Massachusetts, be a Celtics fan, have 26 inches of snow before halloween, power out and the Patriots just lost, plus you’re still a Celtics fan.
It gets worse in life than not having any basketball to watch. You could be the one to blame for taking basketball away from the world. Who is that party we could blame? Hmm. Just about everyone involved, I’d say. By my estimation, the owners hold all the cards, thus making the players at fault for not accepting the fate that they will be forced to accept at a later date. The owners, supposedly being savvy businessmen that 9 times out of 10 made their money elsewhere before buying an NBA team, should have managed their business better and not surmise that the only way to make up losses are to take it out of the players’ chunk.
I don’t know, maybe even the fans could be to blame. If we had been attending games, putting money into the system, nah, not $300 million of it, but maybe. Plus maybe we could have been putting pressure on the parties at the negotiating table before the last 6 weeks, maybe a deal would be done. The media, as we all know, far from being casual observers, could have dug the rift a little deeper and a little wider.
All I know is, we won’t have basketball for at least a month. Right now, every day they don’t make a deal is one more day deeper into the future we won’t see a game. I had heard that David Stern has promised 82 games to both ABC/ESPN and TNT, in this Sam Amick piece, which is just epic. As I saw on the late Friday night SportsCenter, Stern said “In light of the breakdown of talks, there will not be a full NBA season under any circumstances.” Is he more depressed about breaking a promise to the networks or about not making a deal?
If I were ESPN and TNT, I would have made my deal coincide with the lockout. They have just as much if not more to lose in this whole thing than anybody (except the people who have lost their jobs). I have a feeling in November and December we’re going to see a whole lot of Law and Order: SVU, movies starring “The Rock,” The Closer on TNT and more bowling, gymnastics and whatever else on ESPN. That doesn’t pay like the NBA does. Maybe it will in a year or two however. If the deal coincided with the CBA, the networks could have done like ESPN did with hockey and walk away from those horrible years after their lockout that wiped out a whole season. That would be pressure on the NBA.
By now, we all know the issues. If you don’t by now, do you really want to know? I promise you this: you will not think differently about the owners, players or the game based on what the agreement is. You will think differently because games have been lost. You will think differently because whoever wins the championship if there is a 2011-2012 season, they’ll have an asterisk and their record will look different from the other champions. You will wonder about whoever wins Rookie of the Year, if they had had a full season, would they have hit a wall and possibly not won the award? Will taking away a month or six weeks of Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and the Heat, the new look Knicks, the Bulls in their new strong status, will that deal a blow to those legacies? What about stunting the growth of players like Kemba Walker, John Wall, Jimmer Fredette, Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams? Will the loss of games, an abbreivated season, affect the players they become?
We won’t know any of that of course, because we’re stuck with what we’ve got. We have two warring factions, deeply entrenched, both figuring they have far more to lose by making a deal they don’t want, than by making a deal and getting back to the business of basketball. I hate to tell ya, fellas, but you’ve lost a lot out here in the real world. Fans don’t sit and wait, they don’t even pick sides in things like this. Fans, instead, feel alienated, like they don’t matter to anyone and we’re just here as ATM machines that show up to heap love and adoration on all of the players and by extension the owners. That’s not the case at all, and they know it, but they somehow can’t accept it and make a deal for everyone’s good. They can’t or won’t, I’m not sure.
I’ll be here, I know there are hundreds and thousands of you that will be too. Try and keep those folks that say “I’m gonna get into hockey, screw the NBA.” Or “I’m gonna start watching EPL, which teams are good over there?” Just try and keep all of them on the NBA band wagon. We may have lost a wheel and slowed down to a crawl but things are bound to pick up. We’re talking about the greatest athletes in the world, plus Boris Diaw.