OK, let’s get this straight: To exert their power during this lockout, the owners plan to obliterate the image the league has worked feverishly to establish in the 10 years since Michael Jordan retired? It is immature at best, a low blow to the players, reminding them they can be eliminated with a click of the mouse.
No professional sports league flourishes when fans know the names of the owners as well as they do the players, and it appears the NBA will spend this lockout, however long it lasts, attempting to quash the enormous momentum generated by the just-concluded postseason.
The NBA owners spent yesterday morning attempting to wipe out every memory of the expired collective bargaining agreement, a 13-year relationship that reinvigorated the game but also cost the owners $300 million per year in losses.
They tend to ignore the fact that they created this situation by mandating that players agree to this flawed economic system in 1998. When the players finally agreed to a deal, salvaging a 50-game season, they were hardly perceived as winners – a limit on individual player salaries, a limit on contract lengths, no more Kevin Garnett megadeals for the next generation of high school products.
I'll try to sum up the owners' side as best I can.
"I know we asked for this system, but some of us are such morons, we can't stop making dumb decisions with money. So we need you guys to save us from ourselves."
It's a little more complex than that, but that sums it up nicely, I think. I mean, is it Joe Johnson's fault Atlanta wanted to throw max money at him? Is it Darko Milicic's fault Minnesota gave him $20 million when he's barely worth half that? If someone wants to pay me a million bucks to blog, I'm sure as hell not going to say no. Who's fault would that be? (errr… I mean what a wonderful, perfectly sane decision that would be for someone.)
And yes, the players also share some of the blame for taking a hard-line stance. But they're being faced with a ridiculous proposal… and the owners are rightfully taking a PR spanking for it. They're crying poverty, even though there's no chance in hell the losses are as bad as we're being told (thank you creative accounting). The fact that Wyc is leading the lockout charge is distressing.
That's something I want to be clear about. Chuck said it yesterday and I'll echo it today. Wyc and his team are hard-liners who are willing to take basketball away from us for a whole season. That is unforgivable. Wyc is perilously close to becoming one of the poster children for this lockout.
Labor strife puts a horrible taste in fans' mouths. We've loved Wyc because he's been one of the owners willing to spend not just on players, but on improving the fan experience. But a prolonged lockout will wash all that away. There will be boos when Wyc goes to games. Fans will get really ugly if we don't see Celtics basketball until 2012… especially if KG and Ray just retire and we go from "one more run" to "rebuilding."
That's not a threat. That's reality. If the next game at the Garden is the 2012-13 season opener, Wyc shouldn't bother showing up because he'll be booed out of the building and showered with chants of "Go home Wyc." The goodwill built up from Banner 17 will have long been washed away, and there will be nothing but angst filling the void.
The rest of the links:
CSNNE: Lockout drives many NBA players overseas | Scal's serious about playing in Europe | Globe: Kobe Bryant undergoes knee procedure | ESPN Boston: Could lockout shut window? | Everything must go | Insider: Worst cap situations | WEEI: Wojnarowski on M&M: Owners want rollbacks on current contracts | Ken Berger on D&C: NBA Owners "want the players crushed and brought to their knees" | Herald: Ball in union's court