The NBA Lockout: Why It Should Last All Year

Bill WashinskiContributor IIIOctober 21, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 04:  NBA Commissioner David Stern speaks 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

In case you have not noticed, the NBA owners have locked out the players and an inability to come to a new CBA has led to the cancellation of games. 

I say “in case you have not noticed” because of the significant reduction in media coverage of the NBA lockout as opposed to the NFL – which garnered front-page stories the entire offseason.

In the end, the NFL was forced to cancel only the Hall of Fame Game.

The NBA picture remains in a far more bleak state.

The fact that the coverage of the NBA lockout has been significantly less than that of the NFL is not enough to get through to the minds of the NBA players

The bottom line is, someone has to care about your product and unlike the NFL, NBA players will find that their services are not as desired as they would like them to be.  In addition to that, their situation is nowhere near as solid as that of the NFL players.

Part of this falls on David Stern, who built the NBA’s popularity from its stained reputation of the 1970s to a globally popular sport, using some very powerful weapons (also known as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan). 

The NBA was marketed through its players more than its teams.  It wasn’t the Celtics vs. Lakers, rather it was Larry vs. Magic, then Magic vs. Michael, Michael vs. Barkley and so on until now it’s LeBron vs. Kobe.

That philosophy worked until the players began to have more power than the owners—the inmates begun to run the asylum.   And it’s gotten to a point were Amare Stoudemire says to the media that the players are considering starting their own league. 

Bird/Magic knew what basketball was all about
Bird/Magic knew what basketball was all aboutAndy Lyons/Getty Images

Stern’s methodology of marketing worked wonders for a long time, but now that methodology has really begun to backfire since the players can even blurt out something so outrageously stupid as believing they can start their own league. 

The NBA players have far too much power for the league’s best interests

When Bryant Gumbel makes a “plantation” comparison, I would be more than happy to get into a real debate with him about the true realities of the situation instead of comparing it in any way to the most despicable eras in the history of these United States.

The players want all the money, all the freedom to go where ever they want to go and none of the responsibility.  Amare can talk all he wants about starting a league, but he’d find that it’s a lot different when worrying about paying employees, negotiating TV contracts, securing leases and suffering financial losses—he can’t even develop a back-to-the-basket game.

So what would he do if he found that he was losing money because of his spoiled, rich employees.

From the day they are in high school, these basketball players are courted and surrounded by their posse and other hangers-on who tell them how great they are.  Then, right from high school they want to go straight to the NBA. 

Such genius intellects like Skip Bayless talk about how they should have every right to go and every year you hear about how the all-star game is filled with players who have entered right out of high school or only one year in college.

Forget learning a low post game - I wanna be a Global Icon (and fail in the 4th QTR)
Forget learning a low post game - I wanna be a Global Icon (and fail in the 4th QTR)Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

For one LeBron James, there are more Kwame Browns, Dajuan Wagners, DeSagna Diops out there who could have developed their games with real coaching—to say nothing about the education they would receive—but who instead of had short careers achieving a fraction of what they could have otherwise. 

You never hear about all of those guys, because the media loves to focus on the one out of a hundred who has a significant NBA career instead of the other 99.  But that’s an argument for another time.

Today, because of the trail blazed by Bird and Magic with their Converse shoe commercial, then Michael Jordan and Nike, the players are more concerned about their public images than they are their games. 

The media showed highlight after highlight of Michael Jordan dunking and scoring, but they never mentioned how he moved without the ball, learned a post-up game and improved his jump shot. 

Nonetheless, those players (and those of that era) worked on their games. It wasn’t about making the highlight films with one-on-one moves but rather about winning and doing what it took to win. 

The NBA players of today are not only a shell of the players that made the league what it was, but they also couldn’t care less about the fans of the league.  Gumbel has the nerve to compare a businessman paying an employee an average of $5 million a year to a plantation owner. 

Players get guaranteed contracts, have zero accountability to live up to them (Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry) and now they have taken to trying to team up for “super teams.” The players forget that everything that is made possible for them is via the fans paying for tickets and watching their games. 

Which takes us back to square one: Do you notice the lack of attention that the NBA is getting for its lockout as opposed to the NFL?

In 2004, the NHL players found out just how insignificant they really were in the long run.  The NBA is not the NHL, true enough, but the NBA is not the NFL, and it is not a business where money is guaranteed to come in the door for every owner. 

It’s bad enough that most of the skilled players in the league come from overseas. It's even worse that the perfect role model, Tim Duncan (who stayed in school to get his degree in case things did not work out and went on to win 4 championships), is completely overshadowed by a LeBron James.

LeBron spends more time being concerned about becoming a “global icon” rather than learning how to make a free throw or what a jump step and power move, up-and-under or jump hook was.  He might have even scored in the fourth quarter.  

It’s actually quite interesting to see how even the '80s- and early '90s-era players think of James, citing Magic Johnson’s recent comments.  If James had the respect of those that came before him, Magic wouldn’t have made those zingers on him.  That is a microcosm of the NBA in general.

The NBA players need to be locked out; they need to go a year without playing to realize what they have and realize that having to dress professionally is not racist and that people won’t miss them as much as they thought they would.  Who knows, maybe the game might become enjoyable to watch again. We can only hope.