What Are The Chances The NBA Lockout Turns Into A Political Football?

We're all embroiled in the news of the NBA lockout.  For a comprehensive reminder of why the owners' position is so much refuse, Ziller sums it up succinctly.  The larger economic parallels he draws go a little farther.  There's been plenty of talk about the arena workers and team employees that have already and will continue to suffer.

But as the lockout continues into the season, the scope of financial blowback is going to widen.  Winter resorts live for the snows and the businesses that grow up around a basketball team (you know, the ones the team promises the city will help make it worth the cost of underwriting an arena) will take losses and start to fail.  It will only be a matter of time before Forbes or some like-minded magazine writes about 'The Basketball Recession'.

The economy is a hot-button issue (hotter than usual, I mean), and if the impact starts to noticeably affect city economies isn't someone going to turn basketball into a political football?  How long can this crock continue before the issue becomes politicized?

It sounds fairly ludicrous, I imagine.  And after all, the government would rather not get involved in a labor dispute.  David Stern is used to handling the usual pressure, but how about getting called out on a whole other level?  This is fantastically speculative, of course.  And while I hate bringing politics into the discussion, there is a middle class being steadily disenfranchised that, while they can't identify with multimillionaires needing moar flat screens in their Escalades, they can surely call shenanigans on the hard cap issue.

Like Rook's been saying for months and months, there is a hard cap in the NBA, because salaries are a percentage of revenue.  The owners can talk about bloated salaries until they are blue in the face, that lie will not hold up against fierce public scrutiny, and if it comes to the attention of the political blogosphere, we'll see how well the NBA's resident media ninja holds up the brightest lights a media-obsessed nation has to offer.

I'm aware this eventuality is unlikely in the extreme.  But if there's enough suffering on a city-wide scale, it won't be a question of who's first to weigh in, it will be a question of who will get there first.  The union may or may not be on the ropes, and while political intervention may not be deus ex machina, it's definitely something David Stern and Co. don't need.

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