In 36 hours the NBPA and the owners union will collaborate in a sterile office to undergo negotiations, negotiations that could decide the fate of the 2011-2012 season.
I am not going to lie: Losing the season is a sad thought, one that leaves me rumbling about the house with hatred for a league spoiled over with billions of billions of dollars.
Billions of dollars that have come out of my pocket and yours. Yet where do we stand in all of this?
Adios amigos, and gracias for your unending fandom that makes the game truly what it is and always has been. Despite your ticket and apparel purchases, purchases that run second in revenue to endorsement level deals (though not really, considering we keep those brands in business also) the league still cannot promise you a season.
Why is that Mr. Player and Mrs.Owner?
I have an odd feeling that your needs for abundance are not in fact needs but wants, wants that lend themselves to the bragging point at high-class cocktail parties or light-popping clubs, where sipping bottle service with broads strapped at each arm is your version of reaching out to the fans.
Rumor has it that washed-up, God-praying Derek Fisher is heading up negotiations. Tonight he is catching a red-eye in order to represent a players' union against enhanced revenue sharing—a tall order that is way out of Fisher's league and is a bit—shall we say?—ridiculous.
What the players want in a nutshell:
The league to look like the MLB, which offers long guaranteed contracts even to an under-performing player.
What the owners want in a nutshell:
The league to look like the NFL, which offers shorter performance enhanced contracts. They also would like revenue sharing to equalize the lend-outs given to the Lakers, Knicks and Celtics. Lastly, their biggest issue is a "soft" salary cap, that allows for big spenders like Mark Cuban's Dallas Mavericks to spend above and beyond the cap. Only a handful of teams can afford to spend above the cap and take the tax-hit, while the majority of NBA organizations are drowning in a collective deficit of 300 hundred million dollars.
Though revenue sharing is beautifully egalitarian, the dog-eat-dog owners care little for a game of "share the cookie." Their dead- set on shortening free agent contracts to better team retention, is a move oriented in dollars and cents. There will be no movements from the owners unless the new CBA makes sense in the economic department.
As of now nothing makes sense. Nothing but dog shows and tea parties, bouncing bunnies and ballet. When players like oft-injured Andrew Bynum are guaranteed one-fourth of his team's total salary, something is very wrong with the system.
Which means we better get on our knees and start praying. We better begin asking whoever sits in the stars to orchestrate a miracle, rearrange the cosmos of the future, and—oh, while he is at it—how about season seats at any stadium of our choice?
Sounds about right.
Predictions from around the league are stating the earliest possible start in the end of December. If not concluded with a deal by Jan. 1, the season will be lost and 2011-2012 will but a wedding ring-like memory flushed down a dirt-stained toilet.
Losing this year will have ramifications: Kobe will be an arthritic, Glen "Big Baby" Davis well over three hundred pounds, Phil Jackson lost somewhere in India smoking peyote and David Stern, a clown in a traveling musical.
So why do we do it then? Why do we put ourselves through this time in time again only to be rejected?
Because we love the sport.
We are utterly addicted to a game that is part of our cultural blood. A rapid culture looking for a source of pleasure offering instantaneous gratification on the world's largest stage.
Tell me, what beats out MJ's 1998 game winner capping a legendary hall of fame career? Not even Gibby's infamous World Series home run holds the same historical weight.
For this reason alone, we must allow Darwin's Survival of the Fittest to work its course in order that you and I might relish in a future NBA more in-touch with the real world.
There are five immutable reasons the looming lockout is a healthy thing for the sport and for its fans:
1: A fixed stance on sign-and-trades and max three-year free agent contract will help even the playing ground.
Small-market organizations like the Grizzlies, Bucks, Bobcats, Thunder and Kings will be able to equalize some of the disparity between big money spenders and frugal negotiators by off-setting the cap necessary to build around franchise faces. A minimal three-year contract length if their franchise face chooses to go elsewhere helps discourage the venture. Able to offer max six-year deals if the player stays put further encourages player-owner-fan faithfulness. None of us can deny the fact that a deeper league filled with more parity is a variable that promotes an exciting regular and postseason.
2: When two parties are forced to work together it humbles them.
No, likeability is not a twin brother to athletic superiority. But likeability is more palatable and as a fan I appreciate humility from the two parties at hand: the owners and players. When the chasm is thinned and the fan favorites get a bit more in touch with the real world, all at hand are more keen on creating a dynamic basketball experience.
3: Without the NBA fans can focus on the NFL.
With names like Cam Newton waiting to fill in and revolutionize the league, the Packers attempting to repeat, the Saints desire to get back on top and the resurgence of Mike Vick, fans have a lot to look forward to this season. Without the start of the NBA season, fans can fully focus on the second-half playoff push of the NFL.
4: Owners and critics now have time to fully assess their rosters.
Let's not lie: Usually free agent signings and blockbuster trades ruin team chemistry (think L.A. Lakers 2004). No matter how bright and shiny the star is, upper management must know 100 percent that the player they are bringing into the situation is worth the risk. With names like Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Rudy Gay, Joe Johnson, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, Kevin Love and Pau Gasol on the block, teams on the precipice to competing for an NBA title have a lot to think about.
5: It takes time for NBA scouts to truly know whether a player is worth an NBA draft choice.
As a college basketball fan, I can assert this notion. Every year (especially this year) the Yinka Dares, Tristan Thompsons and Mike Olowakandis go way to early in the NBA draft. With a truncated season, NBA coaches and scouts will get more time to assess college talent, which should bode well for the consistency of the 2012 draft.
Side note: I vote for a WBPA vs. Owners negotiation while we are at it. Shoot, water is essential to the body, so it retrospect, the Water Boy Players Association should be granted the same right to levy for higher wages.
Here is to ballet rankings on ESPN (lmfao).