I know, NBA Fan Voice Day is over. The last few weeks have been one hell of a roller coaster, so I'm making my peace if the NBA doesn't return until 2012/13. Maybe by the time this article publishes there will be real optimism, a real light at the end of the tunnel. For now, I needed to get this out and as always, thanks for taking the time to read it.
I am a fan of DC sports who lives in Phoenix, Arizona. When our teams come to town, I'm right there. I don't purchase season tickets, or buy a lot of merchandise. I'm not the kind of fan NBA owners particuarly care about, because my purchase decisions don't particularly affect their bottom line, outside of a League Pass purchase (should the season be played...etc.).
I love our kooky team. Javale McGee's antics, Andray Blatche's missteps, Hamady N'Diaye's fashion debuts, and Nick Young's hairstyles make the Wizards one of the most human teams in the league, to my eyes, at least. The pressure is there from the outset for these guys to put on an impeccable public front that stresses class, character, and commitment.
Our guys want to make good. There's friction from time to time but no hard cases. At the same time, we get a sense that maybe a few of them resent having to be someone else's idea of a veteran. They want to be their own person, their own player. In some cases we can't help but root for them a little, even if only in secret. So when I say I feel like we have one of the most human teams in the league, I'm referring to watching our guys look for their identity, again as people and players.
If I have to watch them play this season in Europe, I won't like it. But at the same time, so be it.
The thought of no NBA ball this season is intensely painful, but what the lockout seems to have crystallized, for me at least, is that while I follow the team closely, it's the stories I love. I'll still think of these guys as the Wizards, from this year's rookie crop to Larry Owens and Othyus Jeffers. These stories will go on whether it's in the NBA or not.
Dan Grunfeld had a great piece for SB Nation talking about the differences between life in the NBA and overseas in Europe. The lockout has brought a lot ugly emotion to the surface, even as I have to scoff a little at the idea of class warfare between millionaires and billionaires. Is it worth it to the players to stand on principle, when they've been asked to make all the concessions?
It's a lot of money they'd leave on the table. Union-Owner battles are a polarizing, historical and truly American theme in the way that so few things really are. The prevailing sentiment is that the owners have already won, but are demanding a rout. What will they do if #CancelMyNBASeasonTickets starts trending on Twitter? Should the players walk away and play in Europe, South America, Australia, and China on principle this season, I'll follow grainy video feeds with questionable camera angles and wait for translated news coverage from reporters, who however exceptional they are, won't be David Aldridge. They won't be the Wizards any more, but if the season turns out to be a total loss, I'll still follow my team. So be it.