Stern stuck in the middle of a poor situation.
Drum roll, please: enter Derek Fisher, lead general for the NBPA.
Continue drum roll: On the other side, mega names like Paul Allen and Jerry Buss with their wallets fixed, arms folded.
The war ensues.
Welcome to the NBA lockout, a battle nest in the trenches of "I want, you want" argumentation with no end in sight.
In an American economy built around a dog-eat-dog paradigm of capitalism, multiple misinformed ideals have led the players down a wrongful path.
Their incessant need for guaranteed long-term contacts with no performance bonus structure is a display of ignorance at its finest.
The owners, meanwhile, desire shorter contract length, harsher free agent standards and revenue sharing to ease the burden on small market teams.
Every economist knows what makes the Internet business age go round: its capital, predicted capital and the two percent Aristocratic society that then directs that capitals interest.
The Lateral growth model is an economic model that simply does not work. Rather, what benefits the economy more is an exponential entity that extends horizontally into other niche markets.
That, my friend is what an old-fashioned monopoly is, the only way to ultimately reign supreme on a corporate business level.
Let's play a game: suppose I invite you over for a chess match and you agree. Upon your arrival, I ask you sit on my couch, drink my Gatorade and begin the duel. Bear in mind that the chess board is my board, the couch my couch and the Gatorade my Gatorade.
If you win, the bet wagered two Gatorades. You’re really good at chess and are feverishly thirsty, so you agree. You win the match. I give you two Gatorades and then tell you to take a hike, packing up the chess board, the Gatorade and the plush couch.
In a form of celebratory hysteria, you demand the keys to my car, the house, the couch and my refrigerator full of lime Gatorade. I call you crazy, laugh and invite you over again should you decide to be a big boy who knows your place in our relationship.
A person who knows your place in our relationship—shall I repeat that?
I am afraid to say that the prima donna pop athlete is a person who does not know their place in the great relationship. They are paparazzi drunk with fame and have deserted reality like a modern Don Quixote.
Their little man syndrome has filtered practical knowledge with a me-first-gimme-gimme disease that pretends away the reality of their lives.
The average teacher’s salary of $44,500 a year is about equal to Kobe Bryant's pay for six minutes on the basketball court. For twelfth men making the league minimum, that is but two games sitting the pine.
There is no question that the current athlete is a derivative of pop culture as a whole. We have all partially made them who they are today by worshiping the ground they walk on. But that does not excuse them or give them the right to do away an entire season based upon an incredulous idea of guaranteed contracts.
Considering the view from the owners’ side, it must be hard to fathom. Mega-billionaire Paul Allen made his living as one of Microsoft’s founders. His net worth of $15-20 billion ranks him tenth on the Forbes list. His Trailblazers are worth somewhere between $500-700 million dollars, just one-thirty-fifth of his overall wealth.
For Lakers owner Jerry Buss, whose net worth is in the ballpark of three three to four billion dollars, it must be the same. Even though his Lakers are the highest-grossing team in the league, his gargantuan wealth is enough that he could walk away from the venture and never look back again.
The owners’ abundant wealth is a reality that must instigate the players’ desires. How on earth have they tricked themselves into believing they are worth anything at all?
The concrete reality is that for most NBA owners, the NBA is but a chess match, a game, a fun venture that shapes society and offers modern day gladiators a life of fortune.
But it does not offer them co-ownership; no, not even stocks in a publicly traded company. Whether or not this has invented a bad stigma toward the owners, the reality is that this is the model of American business: a top-dog system built such that the less fortunate must at some point or other concede defeat.
And though outlandishly wealthy, the players are less fortunate and fairly so. The owners are the gods of a multi-billion dollar industry, which not only offers athletes a job but the average American individual entertainment.
With or without the minute risk, the majority of NBA owners are disgustingly wealthy. They are, no matter what the players think, in a different stratosphere of popular culture.
This alone is the greatest bargaining chip the owners have. At one point or other, players will have to come back around to the harsh reality that they are not in the driver’s seat.
The owners are. If the players are Lil' Wayne then the owners are Clive Davis.
Who do you side with?
And while the players mask themselves as the abused victims in a make-believe partnership, the owners remain stanch in reality; a reality that does not have to be justified by charity or good-will toward the over-paid NBA athlete.
While the athletes hold their hands at the cookie jar demanding a cookie before finishing their chores, the owners are worried about keeping a league prosperous at an international level.
In the real world, performance is the ultimatum that derives a paycheck. Incentive-based structures not only increase output but demand excellence from the employee. This alone safe-guards the "worker bee," putting effort into adhering to company policy. Not only does it safe-guard the employee but it gives them a set-standard by which to meet personal goals and quotas to obtain bonuses.
This, according to 19th-century British politician Benjamin Disraeli, is the great driving point to economy. Disraeli said, “there can be economy only when there is efficiency," and efficiency is what currently lacks in the NBA's labor contract.
A league in which 25 of the 30 teams are working at a deficit is just not sustainable. During times of economic crisis, corporations are given two options to keep the companies viable: job loss and income reduction. Neither of these options are easy, but they are essential to the NBA's future.
Can you imagine a league in which rosters were severely cut? A league in which players like Shannon Brown, Lamar Odom and Toney Douglas are in danger of filing for unemployment?
The idea of such a thing casts my vote for the inherent purity of option two, income reduction. And though I, like many of you, demonize the owners as money-munching monsters, I cannot deny the need the NBA has to mimic an NFL-like contract structure.
The NFL has the most realistic gross model in all of sports. Not only does it ensure that both players and owners are paid, but it is grounded in high work ethic and integrity. If my name is Adrian Peterson, I have both a base salary and an incentive-based salary. If my base is set at $4.5 million, then I have the option to increase my pay through various bonuses for accomplishments like rushing for 1,000 yards, winning the rushing title, scoring some number of touchdowns, and playing in some number of games.
Without a similar rewards structure in the NBA, prima donna athletes have taken to the regular season as if it were an extension of the pre-season. There is nothing to play for until the playoffs because the contract is fully guaranteed.
But nothing in actuality is ever guaranteed. A world history that has seen economic ebbs and flows from great power to great power, only to watch names like Rome, Greece, Russia and Germany fall, is never far from the same.
America's athlete needs a quick study in Economics 101 and a class on the real world. Then hopefully soon, we can all get on with another NBA season.