NBA Lockout: Why the NFL Lockout Is Slowly Killing the NBA

Alex BarrettContributor ISeptember 24, 2011

LeBron is even using a football instead of a basketball now.
LeBron is even using a football instead of a basketball now.Mike Coppola/Getty Images

The NFL lockout did some harm to the NFL, its players and mostly, the fans.

So who did it hurt most?

The NBA.

Right now, the NBA is staring down its first lockout shortened season since 1999, recently cancelling the start of training camp for the teams as well as forgoing the first week of preseason, although they probably could have just cancelled all of the preseason games as it will most likely happen that way no matter what. Its star athletes are risking injury to play overseas, in playgrounds or pick-up games at Rucker Park. They are organizing their own charity games, basically playing wherever they can…except in an NBA arena.

But this is a basketball problem, right? The players want their money to stay the same or grow, the owners want different revenue sharing and a more competitive market held up by a stricter salary cap, which would mean less money to the players—so how could the NFL possibly have any hand in ruining that? The money isn’t the root of evil on this one?

Of course it is. It always is. Only problem is that the people in that conference room debating the outcome of the NBA as we know it is are the only ones that care.

When the NFL was in a lockout, people lost their mind. The thought of life without football was almost too much to bear, even the mention of the possibility of a forfeited—or even shortened—season pulled at the heartstrings of millions of fans worldwide. People contemplated suicide. They prayed to their jerseys. People kept talking about their fantasy leagues and how they would still draft, not even knowing if there would be any reason. Faith went out the window on the interstate. All hope was lost. Alderann was just blown up by the Death Star…again—but this time Han Solo, Luke and Leia, and Chewie and Tom Brady were all on the planet when it ended.

Dwight Howard has been one of the most active NBA stars during the lockout.
Dwight Howard has been one of the most active NBA stars during the lockout.Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

ESPN broadcasted updates each minute about recent happenings at the bargaining table, even if it was the same stuff spouted over and over (see Brett Favre). They chained Chris Mortensen to the front door of whatever law offices the NFL and Players Association were talking at in order to get their reaction, or see when Roger Goodell used the urinal or ask Dee Smith about the pen he dropped on the floor. You couldn’t get away from the fact that there may not be football this season.

What about the NBA? No one. Dwight Howard is still hitting Twitter and meeting fans across Orlando, The Durantula is balling on fools in playgrounds and the most news you hear about it is “Who is going to go play overseas next? Kobe? Metta World Peace?” ESPN reports when there is a plan to meet, or a player signs in China, but not the 24-hour nail biting coverage that happened from the second the last football season ended until their dispute was resolved in time for the preseason to start. There was mass panic and all the NFL lost was a few weeks of free agency—and they even tangoed through that by having a sort of free-agent chum party where the players were thrown into a pool while teams riding sharks with laser beams on their heads circled their targets.

There hasn’t been anywhere near that level of panic in the NBA, yet they have already cancelled camp and preseason games, and it will dig, and has dug, way deeper than the NFL lockout did—still no one cares.

But through this all, there is no loss of hope, no cloud of despair hanging over the planet like there was when there was no football or the aliens were invading in “Independence Day.”

And Will Smith isn’t coming to help the NBA.

Deron Williams is just one of many superstars that are, or will soon be playing overseas.
Deron Williams is just one of many superstars that are, or will soon be playing overseas.Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Nobody cares about the NBA enough, its popularity is still high, but no where near the heights of football, or probably even racing at this point. A NASCAR race gets rained out, people go nuts, and that’s just one race. Andy Lally gets to race this weekend in the No. 43 spot because of his “owner points,” and if he wins, some family in Alabama will name their son Lally. No one is in line to name their kid Stojokavic when the NBA resumes.

The NBA has been suffering from a sort of mid-life crisis recently, with its biggest news coming in the form of LeBron James’ “decision” and a slew of off-court issues that have been plaguing the sport. The officiating in basketball has gotten so bad, it would be better if they just did away with the refs all together and just let the players go out there and call their own balls out or in. Why watch a sport when it seems that every game is decided by the refs?

No wonder Tim Donaghy got away with it for so long, no one could notice the blatantly shady calls through all of the blatantly awful calls.

The NFL lockout showed just how much people loved and couldn’t do without a sport in their lives, and because of the travesty that was the NFL lockout, four grueling months of despair and self torture, we now see that the NBA is just an afterthought.

It even goes as far as some people starting to say that a year off would do the league some good—did you ever hear that about the NFL? I didn’t.

That is the medical lingo way of saying “I really wouldn’t care if basketball was on this year,” and the voice calling out that is much larger than the one getting upset that it may go away for awhile.

In that 1998-1999 season, the league shortened to just 50 games, and the ratings and support for the game dwindled heavily following it. My prediction? We are going to miss a lot of basketball, because no $800 million dollar gap is easily cleared, and when it resumes it will be to crows of cheers from hundreds, not the millions football got when it resumed. The clouds will not open as cherubs sing, the air will not smell like warm root beer, the planet will not briefly pause and let out a sigh of relief when the NBA starts back up like they did with the NFL.

The other problem is that people don’t need the NBA. The NBA needs the people. Unlike football, you and I can go get a ball and start playing. It isn’t that easy to assemble a football game. Even without pro basketball, there is still basketball in some form.

The NFL lockout hurt many people, and could have hurt a hell of a lot more if we had actually lost games, but it hurt the NBA the most, because with each passing day we notice how happy we are that football is back.

And how little we care that basketball could be gone.