In simplistic terms, the NBA lockout is owners vs. players. Each side wants a collective bargaining agreement that allows it to make as much money as possible. However, like most debates, there are many shades of gray.
The owners and players are not two solidified groups.
Sure, David Stern and Billy Hunter want to portray themselves as leaders of unified factions. In reality, there are some people on both sides who want to play basketball sooner rather than later, even if that means a less than ideal CBA from their point of view.
It is time for the owners who want to play to make their power move.
I don't know if the doves have the 16 votes required to ratify a new CBA, but if they do, they should stop worrying about what hawkish owners want.
Hard-line owners, such as Michael Jordan and Dan Gilbert, are threatening to severely damage the NBA product moving forward. Right now, the owners are playing with house money.
American sports fans are, by and large, focused on football. The league could start in January after the college bowl season and reclaim the spotlight after the Super Bowl. It is unlikely that there would be a ratings dip for the postseason.
A missed season, on the other hand, would not be as easy to recover from.
The league is in a golden age of talent. Basketball has become a popular sport that transcends diehard fans. Last season, casual observers were drawn in by LeBron James and "The Decision," the ridiculous amount of young talent and the familiar star power of the Lakers and Celtics.
The NBA became a mainstay of water cooler conversations across the country. A canceled season threatens the league's momentum.
Yesterday, I argued that the players should cave and accept the league's latest offer of 51 percent of basketball related income. They probably won't get a better deal.
Still, there are owners with a desire to play who are not playing their cards. If there are 16 owners willing to compromise and start the season, now is the time bully the hard-line owners into submission.
Owners like Jordan and Gilbert are sabotaging the season.
They aren't making money, but is that really because of the current CBA? Both men have had phenomenal success in life; however, they have proven to be less than competent owners.
Michael Jordan has a dubious draft record (Kwame Brown, anyone?). His legendary competitiveness has failed to translate to winning as an owner.
Of course, there have been many former players tasked with running a front office who have failed. The difference is that they do not own the team and do not have a voice in these negotiations.
Dan Gilbert has made hundreds of millions of dollars. In theory, he should have the skills to run a business that Jordan and other former players lack.
Sadly, as is the case with most of the hard-line owners, Gilbert seems to have ignored the principles that helped him create a fortune since taking control of the Cavaliers.
By winning the 2003 draft lottery, the Cavs landed LeBron James.
James exceeded the absurd amounts of hype surrounding him, but Gilbert and the Cavs failed to build a championship team around him. Gilbert is still bitter that James left for Miami. While the manner in which he left was worthy of criticism, the decision to leave was justifiable.
Gilbert adopted a "win now" approach since drafting James. He tried to convince LeBron that he was serious about winning by overspending on mediocre free agents and bringing in past-their-prime big names.
It's Gilbert's fault that he didn't take Oklahoma City's approach with Kevin Durant. Clay Bennett allowed general manager Sam Presti to take his time constructing a team. He had the patience to let a young team develop together. Gilbert could have done that, but he didn't.
Now, he owns a horrible team and could care less whether or not a game is played in the 2011-12 season.
The owners who have made sound business and basketball decisions should not be punished because some owners have failed to build winning, profitable teams. If the majority of owners want to play, they need to stop being polite.
They need to use their power and empower commissioner David Stern to get a deal done.
The hard-line owners are like the spoiled, screwed up children of wealthy parents. As long as their parents bail them out, they will never learn from their mistakes.
Blaming the players for the errors made by their employers is disingenuous. Clearly, some owners were able to make money paying the players 57 percent of BRI.
The players offered to go down to 52 percent. That should be enough of a concession to convince 16 owners to want to get the season under way.
It's just a matter of will.
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