NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Commissioner of the NBA, David Stern announces that a lockout will go ahead as NBA labor negotiations break down at Omni Hotel on June 30, 2011 in New York City. The NBA has locked out the players after they were unable to reach a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The current CBA is due to expire tonight at midnight. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
I don't have any sympathy. Not an ounce.
I don't have any sympathy for either side. I don't feel for the players and their exorbitant contracts. I don't feel for the owners and the billions of dollars that they have locked up in Swiss bank accounts or whatever. I don't have any reason to feel bad for them at all.
In the end, when this lockout is finally over, the players will still be getting millions of dollars. The owners will still be rich as all get out. Each side will ultimately get what they want, which is a boatload of money that they can pretty much spend on whatever they want. When all is said and done, everyone will get what they want.
Except for us, the fans.It's the fans, the die-hard NBA fans that eat, drink and sleep basketball, that are left out in the cold during the dog days of summer while millionaires fight with billionaires over what to do with our money. I mean, this money that they're all fighting over isn't growing on trees. It isn't falling from the sky and into the pockets of every person associated with the NBA. It all comes from the consumer, the fans, us. Basically, we as consumers are being tossed aside while the owners and players scratch, slap and pull each other's hair out over our hard-earned dollar.
So why should we sympathize for either side? Why even choose a side? This is the NBA. Where showing off your lavish lifestyle happens. We watch the players enter and leave the arenas on a nightly basis wearing their Armani suits and sporting earrings, bracelets and watches that you can't look directly into because of possible loss of sight due to the sheer volume of diamonds. You have Marquis Daniels spending who knows how much money on a diamond necklace of his head. And now everyone is going to argue over wanting more money?
This comes from the same league where Latrell Sprewell told everyone that he couldn't feed his family with a $14 million contract and Patrick Ewing announced to the world during the 1999 lockout, "Sure, we make a lot of money, but we spend a lot, too."
You'd think the NBA would have learned its lesson. The NBA reached the height of its popularity in 1997 and 1998, thanks to some guy named Michael Jordan and his team in Chicago. Then some arguing over money shortened the 1998-99 season to 50 games. Two of the most famous and talk-about NBA Finals series ever featuring the Bulls and the Jazz was followed by one of the most forgettable NBA Finals in recent memory between the Spurs and the Knicks. The NBA thought it could do whatever it wanted and that the fans would come storming back.
They didn't. Not for a while. It took years of the league searching for and doing everything in its powers to market the next great superstar--from Shaquille O'Neal to Allen Iverson to Kobe Bryant to Dwyane Wade to LeBron James--before fans finally helped build the NBA into the immensely popular business that it is today.
And now they're alienating us again. They're talking about missing an entire season over something that the common fan who works 40 hours a week to provide for their family can't wrap his mind around. Sure, they'll try to repay us with cheesy commercials and maybe a free t-shirt or two, but that's only until they can safely jack up the already-inflated ticket prices that are currently squeezing the true fans into the nosebleeds in order to cater to the high-paid execs who barely watch a minute of the action.
Fans don't care about revenue sharing. We couldn't care less. We care about wins, losses, points, rebounds, assists, defensive strategies and pick-and-rolls. We care about basketball. We want to talk basketball. We want to see basketball.
Instead, we're stuck talking about which group of rich people will end up with the most money.
We're the real losers in all of this.