NBA lockout analysis: Blame the owners
NBA lockout means fewer games for fans. So who's the problem in this NBA lockout? Looking at you, owners.
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Yes, Arison and Gilbert are the extremes. But here's the scary part for Heat fans: More owners are closer to Gilbert's camp than Arison's. There are only five or six legitimate contenders in the lopsided NBA every year, if that. Might as well make money and rig the system in our favor for the next decade, the rest of the owners are saying, if we don't have a real chance to win. It isn't a coincidence that Mavs owner Mark Cuban and Arison are the most eager to get a deal done. But they are the minority when Yahoo! is reporting that even Paul Allen, one of the world's richest men, has grown bored and disinterested with how far behind his Blazers are and is now a lot closer to Gilbert in philosophy than Arison. The Heat changed the paradigm in a way that gives too many owners who are behind incentive to fix the system instead of trying to win within it. If everyone had a real chance, no owner would want a lockout, scoreboard losses hurting these wealthy men more than financial ones. That's why Stern, who works for the owners, has been so loud and threatening as their mouthpiece.Skip to next paragraph
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"The NBA has done an awesome job of spinning this in their favor as far as the media goes," Utah's Raja Bell said. "Commissioner Stern, in my opinion, is a bit in the way of us making progress. He has been one of the biggest problems in this whole lockout. It is unfortunate we haven't be able to get past that. He rules the NBA with an iron fist, his way or the highway. There's a deal to be made. We've made concessions. We've tried to get close to a position where the owners would meet us. It seems like every inch we give up, they ask for another one. That's the most exasperating part. I feel like that's their target — shoot below the bar, so it looks like they are negotiating when, in fact, there is no intent to negotiate."
Fans just want to cheer. They don't care enough about the details, the numbers, the facts, to see how little the owners have actually given here and how dishonest they have been about trying. James Jones, a player rep more informed than most, was asked if he thought Stern was lying.
"Most definitely," he said. "That's the unfortunate part about it. None of that helps. The answer isn't spin, isn't being antagonistic, isn't pointing fingers. It is coming back to the table and really working to get a deal done. A lot of the things he is doing are not helpful to the process."
We, as fans, just want our games, our escape. Nobody goes to the amusement park to read contract language. So we feel like parents at a playground right now, surrounded by spoiled children. Come on now, kids. This is supposed to all be fun. Can't we just play instead of fight? Emotion clouds. Greed infuriates. The coverage is droning and boring, unless Wade is yelling at Stern, and the truth is obscured because the commissioner is good at public relations. But the fan who can't afford to take his son to an NBA game in a recession, already angry at the greedy millionaire who won't just shut up and play, doesn't understand why a man who gets to play a game for a living won't just accept whatever the owners are offering.
The players are an easy target but not an accurate one. They already have agreed, in essence, to a league-wide pay cut that gives back hundreds of millions of dollars — and they have done it because the owners have run their business improperly, basically giving back hundreds of millions in concessions to help the owners police themselves. And it hasn't been enough. It really is breathtaking in its stupidity and makes you wonder how these people got rich in the first place doing business this way. We build these wealthy men arenas. We invest in their product in more ways than one. And what do we get in return now? These successful businessmen have somehow figured out a way to take the paying customer's sport and team and fun — but not the paying customer's money.