NBA Lockout: Why Owners Are Risking the Future of the League

David DietzContributor IIIOctober 12, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 04:  Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver (L) and NBA Commissioner David Stern speak at a press conference after NBA labor negotiations at The Westin Times Square on October 4, 2011 in New York City. Stern announced the NBA has canceled the remainder of the preseason and will cancel the first two weeks of the regular season if there is no labor agreement by Monday.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images


"If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future". 

- Winston Churchill


Sit down to watch one of the Republican presidential debates and you'll hear the 'pledges' to restore America's future. During the commercials you will hear a Fidelity advisor urging you to plan for the long term to ensure a comfortable retirement. If you are a parent you will probably get up and go remind your children to study hard in the 6th grade so that they will have a successful career down the road.

Flip on Sports Center and you will hear a cadre of teams and GMs promising to rebuild and restore the the future. 

We are a country driven by a desire for a better future. It is the American dream.

For the most part, looking ahead is sound advice. One must prepare for what lies ahead in order to best face and conquer it. In our fast paced and ever changing society, sitting on one's laurels and taking life day-by-day no longer cuts it. The future holds our fortunes. 

With the promise of the future so ingrained in our society, it comes as no surprise that the NBA and its owners have embraced this ideal.

The problem is that by preparing themselves for the future and digging in for the long haul, the NBA owners have shot themselves in the foot and are on the verge of killing the season.

Their refusal to negotiate stems from their demand that the owners and players redo their previous agreement and split all basketball-related income 50-50. Besides the inconsequential fact that the owners happily agreed to the prior 57-43 BRI deal, a more equitable revenue sharing agreement does indeed make sense. 

For the owners, sharing the BRI 50-50 is a key component in guaranteeing the long term financial success for their franchises. The problem is, their stubborn belief that anything less is unacceptable torpedoes those very goals. 

The owner's refusal to accept the players proposal to cut their BRI percentage from 57 to 53 percent does more to jeopardize their long term stability than it ensures it.

Why? Because the owners are overlooking the present. 

After last season's formation of the Super Heat and the epic playoffs culminating in the Dallas Mavericks championship, the NBA was primed to enter a golden age, perhaps as good as the Larry Bird and Magic Johnson era.

Not since then has there been so many compelling story lines, heated rivalries or prodigious young talent. 

After suffering through what was a lost decade of high profile draft busts, overpaid selfish players -many lacking talent - and a 'thuggish' image stemming from the melee at Auburn Hills, the NBA was back in a big way.

The league had already begun its comeback with the reemergence of the Lakers and Celtics as dominant powers and heated rivals. Factor in the rise of several young stars such as Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard (don't forget he's only 25), and the NBA was as deep and exciting a league as it ever was.

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 04:  Derek Fisher, President of the National Basketball Players Association, (C) and Billy Hunter, Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association, speak at a press conference after NBA labor negotiations at The We
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The formation of Miami's Super 3 was the icing on the cake and only cemented the NBA's reemergence.

Few sporting events/spectacles have ever garnered so much news and inflamed so many passions.For the first time since Jordan's Bulls, entering the fall, there was more hype about basketball than football.

Now? A year removed from what was one of the most watched and most talked about finals of all time and the league barely registers on our sports radar. 

Lebron has not been seen in weeks (His only public appearances are McDonald's commercials), fans are angry, and players are fleeing to Europe.  

All the while, the league is losing the interest of fans it worked so hard to win back. 

What owners have failed to understand is that the future is only brighter if the present crisis is solved. 

For small market teams, the future is only brighter if they do not lose their players to Europe or if they are not contracted in the present (a stronger possibility if the lockout lasts longer than a year). 

For big market teams, the future is only brighter if rivalries are stoked and interest in the players remains strong keeping fans from turning their attention elsewhere. 

And for the NBA, the future is only brighter if fans return to the stadiums and forgive the league for robbing them of some of the last good years of this generations greatest stars Kobe, Duncan, Nash, Garnett, Nowitzki and the like.

 At the current time, the owners can still mortgage the present for a better future. Losing two weeks of the season is certainly not desirable but neither catastrophic. The longer the lockout drags on however, the more the league is putting its future in doubt. 

Having just managed to pull itself out of a lost decade, does the NBA really want to risk another?

That is not the future anyone had in mind.