The NBA lockout has been such a depressing topic that I’ve tried not to think or talk about basketball since the draft in June. Maybe coincidentally I haven’t played much recently either and while the frequency of my playing has varied over the years, I’m definitely not pumped about basketball right now. By now I was hoping to be writing about the endless exciting possible lineups of the rebuilt once again Washington Wizards, but instead we are a week away from the season’s normal starting time with the players and the owners stuck at impasse. We could face months without professional basketball if not lose a full season if the two sides cannot come to an agreement soon.
The fundamental problem is that the owners are claiming they are not making money in the current economic climate and want to change the business model of the league. What they want from the players is a 50/50 split in total revenue over ten years. This may sound like a fair deal, but that would mean the players come down from their 56% piece of the pie they agreed to in the last negotiation. Some people will just say, it’s tough times and the players make too much money already, and they should just take the deal, get back the work and be thankful they get paid for doing what they do.
I disagree with this sentiment to an extent. I think the players should come down from the last deal, and they have agreed to go down to 53% already, but there are other factors involved. One is that the NBA is a more player-driven league than any other major professional sports league. In football and hockey, the players wear helmets. In baseball and soccer, the fields are so big the players look pretty anonymous from the stands and on television. Basketball players are by far the most visible because there are the fewest players on the smallest playing surface, indoors and under lights, wearing the least amount of clothes and covering. It has always been a star-driven league and sport and always will be.
Also the 50% proposed is not quite 50%. Both sides have to pay taxes on their earnings to the government, of course, but the owners receive that as profit of a major business and can thus write off major expenses. So, the total amount of revenue received by the actual parties will tip in the owners favor. Plus, as we learned from the now forgotten NFL lockout, if the NBA owners strike a deal that would appear to be drastically favorable to them objectively by the finance community, their franchises will rise in value giving them more gain to their net worth over the players.
I am mostly on the players’ side on this issue, but I do have one message to Billy Hunter, NBA player union boss: don’t compare the owners locking out the players to the plight of the American people during our ongoing series of recessions. I heard him say on the Bill Simmons’ BS report (http://www.grantland.com/podcasts) that the players make a few bucks during their career but still live another forty years or so after and even with making the best investments they will all eventually run out of money. He went on to say that the players are standing up for principles and are fighting the global battle of the little guy getting pushed around by the big guy, a little harder to swallow when the “little guy” is over seven feet tall.
Sorry Billy, but a lot of this is due to the extravagant lifestyles led by the players. The league median salary is $2.3 million, so even average players make the kind of money that can set your family up for generations if you make smart decisions and bank enough money to make interest on your cash. Say you’re doing it for the players who fought for these deals before you, like those who threatened to not play in the 1964 All-Star Game if the league continued to not recognize the first players’ union (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1964_NBA_All-Star_Game). Say you’re doing it to ensure that you don’t send a bad precedent for the players to come after you. What you should not do is make yourselves out to be hero’s of the common man, while millions of us common men and women are struggling to get by while you guys are sitting on your progressively getting fatter asses refusing to play basketball. On second thought, fuck it, let’s #OccupyNBA bitches. Read the rest at http://daodesam.blogspot.com/