NBA lockout continues without progress
Every other day, it seems, a new NBA star is rumored to be looking into signing overseas to play in some other league, and David Stern, the commissioner of the NBA, seems to be almost taunting those who have done so already as well as those who are thinking about it. The fight in the NBA is almost purely over money, as opposed to the NFL, where there were (and still are, for many) concerns over the length of the schedule, league rules, intensity of practices and other factors.
The owners in the NBA want more share of revenue and seem to be more than willing to give up this season to get it. The players, on the other hand, are reluctant to give up more than they already have. The owners claim that the NBA as a whole is losing money and that the league cannot continue on the course it's on. The players counter that, more than any other league, the NBA is star-centric; people don't come to NBA arenas to watch the big hits, like they do for football, nor do they come for the history of the park or the team, like they do in baseball. Some of them come out of fervent support for a team, like we see often in hockey and soccer, but mostly, the players contend, the audiences flock to the arenas of the NBA for the marquee players.
Last NBA season was one for the ages. We had a young, rising star in Chicago win the MVP award, reminding the world that Michael Jordan doesn't play basketball anymore, and the game is in good hands. We had the near-unanimous consent of the sporting nation in rooting against the Heat. We had the underdog Mavs overcome those same Heat in a surprisingly great NBA Finals series. We had Blake Griffin as Rookie of the Year, robbed of his real rookie season and then proving that he was the real thing.
Now, we have football back and a populace that was already just borderline-interested in basketball seems poised to lose any of the respect that the last few post-Jordan years had seemingly cemented. We have that same Rookie of the Year lamenting that in his first three seasons, he might get to play a mere 82 games. We have players taking to their Twitter accounts in a style far less aggressive than when James Harrison called out NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the pages of Men's Journal magazine, while the NFL was still locked out. The degree of severity doesn't matter, though, for a sport that plays second-fiddle in America's eyes, at best.
The worst news for basketball fans is that most owners didn't get rich by owning NBA teams. The teams are a side business at most, a fun distraction at least. If they have to lose this season in order to get the profit sharing margin down to the levels where they think it needs to be in order to continue having their fun, they seem more than willing to do so. The silver lining is that there is plenty of basketball off the NBA courts still being played. But that's about it.