I don’t pretend to understand the NBA bargaining arguments. A few tenths of a percent here, a dollar or two there, it might as well be in Japanese. But there are a few things even the casual observer can notice. In my opinion, the owners’ side of the table is fighting a losing battle.
I think they know it, too. Early in the negotiations, the owners proposed a “hard salary cap.” I had to do about 30 minutes worth of research, and I won’t bore you with the specifics, but it would have basically limited the “superstar” teams like the Miami Heat to signing players that make league-minimum salary to fill out their roster. Days later, the owners backed off that proposal, saying they were negotiable on that after all. They’re also slowly giving up more of the revenue to the players.
I think they know what I know. The players have all the power. The players have the support of the fans. Nobody cares what the owners want.
Don’t get me wrong, I think most NBA players are overpaid playboys, but it’s hard not to side with them when they’re out there on the court every season playing their hearts out while some rich fat cat sits up in his luxury box watching. If there’s no NBA season, most people won’t blame the players, there’s too much loyalty there. Most people will point their finger at the owners, asking what gives them the right to be so selfish.
Not only do the players have the support of the general population, but they have all the leverage too. They’re going to play in other countries and finding better things to do than sit around and wait for an agreement. Hey, if the lockout goes any longer, and with all the injuries in the NFL, we might see some NBA players playing pro football before too long. I heard Matt Hasselbeck say he wanted some basketball players to come try out to play wide receiver for the Titans. Wouldn’t that be something?
With all that being said, do I think there will be a season this year? Yes, I actually do. Sometimes no matter how set you are in your principles, your values can be swayed by outside factors. The owners are obviously starting to learn that they’re losing the leg they’re standing on. We may get an abbreviated season, but there’s no money to be made at all if no one sees the court this year. Not only that, but people are starting to lose interest too. The NFL and college football season is in full swing, and with those storylines along with fantasy football, we can all get our sports fill for now. As my Project Spurs’ colleague Humbie Cervera says, the average NBA fan doesn’t even really care until after Christmas
One thing’s for sure, everybody in the NBA needs to get their act together, before they do some real long-term damage, and lose some fans forever.