Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NBA Lockout: The Death of Optimists Prime

The optimists covering the NBA lockout took a big blow after Tuesday’s meeting between the National Basketball Players Association’s (NBPA) Executive Board and the NBA’s Labor Relations Committee.

There was a lot of optimism from the mainstream media about the NBA lockout leading up to Tuesday’s meeting between the NBPA and NBA. For example:
  • Chris Sheridan said the two sides were closer than people think.
  • Alex Kennedy from Hoopsworld said it seemed like “real progress” had been made.
  • Reporting by Henry Abbott from ESPN showed the bargaining positions of the owners had softened since Mark Heisler reported on their positions during the All-Star break for the LA Times.
  • Before the meeting, Jorge Sedano from 790 the Ticket (the Miami Heat’s flagship station) said the lockout could be over real soon. After the meeting, he predicted it would end by October 16, 2011.

David Aldridge went on NBA TV after Tuesday’s negotiations and said the optimism heading into the meeting came from outside sources that really had not been following the lockout.

Why would Aldridge say that? There are many reasons and a few of them are listed below.

Heisler reported on February 12, 2011 that 80 percent of the owners were taking a hard line in labor negotiations.

Aldridge reported some owners wanted to take money from the players' salaries and their endorsements. They literally wanted the Liverpool FC shirt off LeBron James' back.

Michael Jordan told Australia the owners weren’t going to budge and Stern tried to silence him with a reportedly six-figure fine.

An NBA agent told Ethan Skolnick from the Palm Beach Post, “It should be clear to everyone by now that some owners would just rather kill the season.” Which owners? Heisler and Abbott reported the following owners would likely vote to cancel the season:
  • Dan Gilbert, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Stan Kroenke, Denver Nuggets
  • Donald Sterling, LA Clippers
  • Michael Heisley, Memphis Grizzlies
  • Herb Kohl, Milwaukee Bucks
  • Joe and Gavin Maloof, Sacramento Kings
  • Larry Tanenbaum, Toronto Raptors
  • Ted Leonsis, Washington Wizards

Skolnick also tweeted the agent said the lockout will likely end when the owners break and not the players because the owners are in two different camps. Which owners are in which camps? This article lists each owner’s position on the lockout since the All-Star break.

After Tuesday’s meeting, it’s clear the owners have not softened since February. It’s time for NBA fans to kill their optimism about the lockout. If Sedano’s right and the season happens, then great, but there are too many reasons to be pessimistic right now.

NBA fans should not hold on to hope there will even be a partial season. The last HEATcast referenced Stephen A. Smith and agent David Falk’s take (skip to 12:05 mark): It’s all or none for the season.

Why? Because it doesn’t make sense for the NBA to continue setting a bad precedent in negotiations by only locking the NBPA out for part of a season. It diminishes the bargaining power of a lockout if the players know the owners won’t actually cancel a season.

NBA fans should let go of the notion that a 50-game season will be played. If it happens, then great, but fans and media members should kill that noise until it happens. The list below cites some other ideas on the lockout that should also be killed by fans and media members.

NBA Lockout Myths:

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