So the NBA is now officially going to miss games. Hell, they may even miss an entire season. Reading message boards and comments sections on articles all over the web, you’d think the players are totally at fault for this travesty. You’d be wrong. The fault for games being missed and, not to understate this, putting the entire future of what was a growing enterprise in jeopardy lies completely at the feet of the owners.
There are certainly systemic issues with the league that need to be addressed, but it was clearly a situation calling for some tweaking. But the owners weren’t satisfied with that, they wanted a full-blown NHL style do-over. And because of this catastrophic mistake in judgement, what they’ve gotten is an NBA nuclear winter that, if they don’t pry their heads out of David Stern’s ass immediately and do some actual negotiating, will take years to recover from.
The owners went into this with two giant misconceptions. The first was that the NBA is a business like any other and the players are simply run of the mill employees like you’d find in most companies in this country. The second was that they preside over a league that holds a position in the sporting public’s imagination more similar to the NFL than the NHL. Hell, even Nascar probably has a more diverse, widespread and dedicated fan base.
The owners had no intention of negotiating anything. They had the deal they wanted mapped out all along and thought the way to get it was to ram armageddon style economic changes down the players throats for months with no exceptions, then about a week before cancelling games, offer a bad deal to the players that would look downright generous by comparison. In their minds, the players would be so happy to avoid the end of the world that they’d happily sign up. Guess what? Didn’t work, and the effort, if you can call it that, was so transparent that I’ve seen more able negotiators work out deals for used cookware at the local flea market. All the while, the players tried desperately to actually negotiate while the owners postured, trying to look the part of astute businessmen as opposed to the conglomeration of incompetent douchebags they really are.
The NBA is not a Walmart. Management is not going to be able to lob threats at the workers, forcing them to accept longer hours, less pay, fewer benefits and no vacation and just say, “thank you sir, may I have another?” Real people need their jobs no matter how shitty they are, especially now because we have bills to pay, mouths to feed and other assorted survival-centric concerns that won’t allow us to be able to tell our bosses to pack sand when they continually screw us over for their benefit. Try that with NBA players, and they’ll do exactly what they did here every time, tell you to go fuck yourself. And in the owners case here, that is a much-deserved sentiment.
If the owners had come to the table in July with the offer they made last weekend, a deal would’ve already been done and we’d be watching preseason basketball right now and talking about what a great season we were about to witness. Instead, because of their unnecessary hardline obstinance, the “good news” is that both sides will be meeting with a federal mediator next week. That’s just great, because we all know how good the feds have been lately at working out reasonable compromise that benefits everyone.
The NBA is not the NFL. If you need any more evidence of that, and apparently the owners do, look at the public reaction to their respective lockouts. The NFL version was major news, all over everything all the time. The slightest change in things exploded all over even mainstream, non-sports news outlets. The NBA canceled games the other day and, outside of a few hardcore blogs and the occasional tweet, it went largely unnoticed. Hey owners, you guys have canceled actual games and nobody gives a shit! You think, maybe, you ought to do whatever you have to and get your product back on the court right now? Might be a thought.
There is still a chance, however, that these guys come to their senses before it’s too late. A fair and reasonable deal is sitting there waiting to be made, but they have to come to grips with the fact that their grand plan has been a miserable failure. You’ve already lost crucial time and money in your little dominance-related pissing contest. Make a damn deal now and move on. Keeping this lockout going is just throwing good money after bad. You’re amateur-hour negotiating ploy to break the union simply didn’t work.
You have two choices now: either buckle down and find a fair deal everyone can live with, or go straight to Defcon 1 and scrap the whole season if you are so attached to your destroy the players approach. Of course, the latter will be mutually assured destruction, but from what I’ve seen so far, you’ll probably declare victory even if you lose a billion dollars in the process.
Just get it done, already. Five years from now, I really don’t want to have to watch preempted NBA playoff games on ESPN 6 at 2:30 a.m. squeezed between major league darts and a tractor pull.