Wednesday, October 19, 2011
In case you didn't notice, the NBA season hasn't started yet.
If you haven't noticed, don't worry, neither have I.
This weekend is apparently the key weekend for deciding if the NBA season will start anywhere close to on time.
Of course this "key weekend" comes after the last "key weekend" and before the next "key weekend."
This comes after the players and owners are reportedly close to reaching an agreement, which came after the season was reportedly on the brink of disaster, but also before the season was reportedly on the brink of being lost.
I don't know if there will be NBA basketball this season or not, and frankly, I just don't care.
And that's a problem for the NBA.
You see, the NBA is coming off of one if its best seasons in recent history. On the court the league was finally back on track, with rising young stars and a couple of super teams, including the Miami Heat, which everyone loves to hate.
But true to its tradition as being the worst-run league in major professional sports (with the lockout, it officially grabs that crown from NHL), its owners decided their financial situation was untenable and locked out the players.
I completely understand their position; their financial situation is rough. One team is owned by the league; the Sacramento Kings are drowning in debt, as are the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Bobcats.
But I don't have any sympathy, because the owners made their own bed.
They mostly all have sweetheart deals on their arenas, and any city that doesn't want to pay public money to keep its team is on notice it will lose it, after the Seattle Sonics ditched a 40-plus-year history in Seattle to go to Oklahoma City and the Sacramento Kings are still likely to abandon a devoted fan base and make an ill-advised jump to Anaheim.
The owners don't have to dole out franchise-crippling contracts to players. But they do, out of fear that if they don't, another owner will. Just like a cities fear that if they don't fork over the money, another will and take their team.
But the time of reckoning has arrived.
Cash-strapped cities simply can't afford to make sweetheart deals for millionaires' playgrounds. The recession(s) are crimping fans' pocketbooks. Bloated contracts are dragging down teams.
So the owners took a great big look in the mirror and bravely did the only thing they could do - blame everyone else for their problems.
I have my doubts if we'll see NBA basketball this year. The league is simply too stupid to recognize it was only just rising like a Phoenix Sun from the ashes of the last lockout in 1999 and the attempt to market any new superstar as the next Michael Jordan. Instead, they turned on a firehose and extinguished the greatness they were building.
It's such a mess that I honestly don't care if they play this season or not. I've been ambivalent about the NBA for awhile, and downright bitter after they league stole the team I grew up rooting for. But the recent success of the Blazers had slowly drawn me back.
But it was a long process, and the NBA just set itself back even further.
For now I'll tune in to the baseball playoffs and the Portland Timbers, watch the NFL (a league smart enough to fix its labor dispute), then this winter I'll watch some college basketball.
Maybe I'll even watch some hockey.
If I've reached the point of even considering that last one, the NBA is really in trouble.