FACT: The Atlanta Hawks are my favorite team in sports.
FACT: The NBA Playoffs are my favorite time of the year in sports.
FACT: I am not losing my mind over the NBA lockout...yet.
When the NFL lockout began, I thought there was no way they would miss any games. That league prints money. The owners would get what concessions they could leading upto the final seconds before games had to be missed, then a deal would be reached. Too much money at stake.
When the NBA lockout began, I felt there was no way games could NOT be missed. I don't care how much the players or Deadspin's in-house-whiner says the owners fudge their loss numbers, the financial model of the league was broken. Just as it has been proposed that the owners shouldn't feel a right to make money off of owning a team; similarly, the financial +/-s of a couple of teams aren't an indicator that they shouldn't pursue a lockout if they felt it was needed. An above average NBA fan can eyeball a system where 90% of the players are making more than their added value to their respective squads. Contracts were too long and cap-crippling, mediocre-to-average players were being paid like superstars, paid attendance was dropping, the owners/GMs absolutely failed to exercise any fiscal restraint. None of this is news.
Here's one thing that hasn't seemed to be mentioned, however. The players can't win. They were dead before this started. Forget each side's PR campaigns, twitter talk, etc. for a second and think about the following:
Even if the owners losses aren't actually losses and they are making slight profits, if they stand to make more money with a new CBA, they WILL pursue that and they will hold out until a deal that ensures larger profits become available.
Yes, this lockout sucks, and I do feel that if idiot owners can't help themselves from paying Andre Iguodala and Rudy Gay $12mil/year, fuck them. But logically speaking, they can win a battle of financial chicken with the players. Like the Chris Rock joke says, Shaq is rich. The guy who signs Shaq's paycheck is WEALTHY. Big difference.
In order to break the players, missing games was necessary and inevitable. Sucks, but it is a truth. Also a truth is that very few NBA fans care about this as long as football is being played. Bill Simmons may point out that casual NBA fans who came to the sport with the influx of talent and exciting seasons the last few years might be turned off. My counter: no they wont. I know several fans like that. If anything the lockout hurts them less...they won't even notice the NBA is missing until February. Hell, regularly scheduled weekend national TV games don't even start until Christmas. If the 1994 baseball strike showed us anything, it is that fans will ALWAYS come back to a sport they enjoy.
Much like the threat of missing any games was the kick in the ass the NFL needed to get the deal done, the end of football season and the ability to repeat of the shortened 1999 season will be just what the NBA needs before a deal gets done.
(Note: I loathe when media types mention "in this day and age of twitter and SOCIAL MEDIA...," in fact, I am cringing as I write this, but it bears mentioning that with the oppressive 24/7 news cycle that exists today, there will be considerably more public pressure on both sides to get a deal done, at least before the new year, than there was in 1999. Finally we found something good about the 24/7 news cycle...only took us 10 years.)
So, in summary, let's just say I am much more worried about the Hawks using their inevitable amnesty clause on Marvin Williams over Joe Johnson than the NBA missing meaningful time. Once I pull up my bookmarks and see that Larry has seven new posts slamming Rick Sund on the matter, I will know that the NBA season is finally here, and the system in place will make more sense than the old one.
In the meantime, thankfully, we have OBJ here to provide us his list of the GOOD things that the NBA lockout has and will continue to bring us for the foreseeable future:
-Dwayne Wade can spend more time with his children
-With two less games on Christmas Day, fellas everywhere will only have football as an excuse to not consort with their families. Everyone will be miserable, but they will be miserable together.
-Blake Griffin gets another year without an injury
-Kevin Garnet, Tim Duncan and the rest of the NBA veterans on the wrong side of 30 have a year to rest their aching muscles, and perhaps turn back the mileage Bueller-style
Note: This raises the question - is Yao Ming's foot really that messed up, or did he just give up? Did he and his handlers not anticipate an NBA lockout? Yao essentially would have had two full years to rehabilitate his his ailing appendage, but he folded instead. Either he truly was a genetic freak whose, say, more detailed body parts couldn't support the rest of his (Chinese laboratory created)
leviathan frame, or he simply grew tired of rehabbing for months and months just to play for a handful of weeks.
-The WNBA will become immensely popular
-Just kidding. But people who would normally pay more attention to the NBA will turn towards College Hoops instead, ushering in a new generation of college basketball fans
-This lockout will end when the players give up - this means no more ridiculous salaries and, potentially, an NFL-style parity system across the league. The former will help protect organizations from themselves and is pretty much guaranteed to happen. The latter is designed to elevate the entire "brand" of a sports organization, and could usher in a new era of success for the NBA
-For a whole season, no more having to sit through another endless Spurs vs. Grizzlies Thursday night TNT game, simply because there's nothing else on
-The price of jerseys will go down, enabling me to purchase my Pooh Jeter apparel