NATIONAL BALLSUCKERS ASSOCIATION
Okay. Enough is enough. It's time to feed fatbody David Stern to the lions. The NBA commissioner and his band of super-rich owners have turned a prickly, uncomfortable situation into an ugly funeral march. After three straight days of negotiations, including one 16-hour day, the talks between owners and players on how to divvy up finances in a flopping economy have been halted. Any morsel of positivity that was dangling above the marathon meetings has been gulped down into the blackness of uncertainty.
As the players come down percentage point by percentage point on revenue sharing the owners continue to stand undeterred and unwilling to compromise. It is their way or the highway. And that highway leads to a fractured, if not totally destroyed season, loss of fan interest and the end of some critical hall of fame careers.
Earlier in the month there was verbal agreement from both sides on a 47/53 split siding with the players, but before that had time to fester, Stern and company tip-toed back shamelessly asking if the players would consider 50/50. The players balked and walked away.
It's appalling why the owners would keep up such a hard stance in these negotiations. Last time I checked owning a major sports team cost quite a bit of cash. These owners' bank accounts were overflowing well before they purchased their teams, and wasn't it the sheer love of basketball that urged them to buy? As true lovers of the game it's hard to understand why someone of wealth would put dollars before actual action. Sure you may not be making as much as you could, but at least THERE WOULD BE GAMES.
To ask the players to make as much as the owners do is totally ludicrous. They've already come down huge, from 57% of revenue, which does stand to be a bogus-load of income. But let’s face the facts: the league would not have two legs to stand on if it weren't for the players. Last season had the highest ratings ever. Why? Because people were interested to see what the Miami Heat could do. They were interested to see what Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and that other guy, could do. When the Heat came to Sacramento to play against the lowly Kings, fans bought tickets just to watch those guys play and if you weren't rooting for them, you were vehemently hoping to see them fail. It's the players who drive competition and spark fan excitement. Without that kind of personality attached to the game, it'd just be a couple dudes sweating in a gym. Nobody wants to watch that.
After the Dallas Mavericks pounced on the Heat in the Finals and the labor talk rumblings began, it seemed it wouldn’t be too big a burden. Now it’s become a nightmare. There goes training camp. There goes the preseason. There go the first two weeks. There goes November. Once Christmas games are officially canceled the nightmare will become fully realized and the asterisks will abound.
When I shut my eyes at night I have visions of basketballs spinning in my head. I imagine alley-oops, no-look passes and pick-and-rolls perfected. When I wake the only news is Stern’s melting Jabba the Hutt face. Go Bruins?