Friday, July 1, 2011

Welcome to the end of the world

So the NBA now has moved to lockout, just as we all knew it would, because the NBA has at least a half-dozen franchises that lose money, don't draw, and won't likely be watchable for several years to come. (Those teams? The Clippers forever and ever, just because, the Kings, Cavaliers, Wolves, Wizards, Raptors and Nets, though if you want to include the Warriors, Bucks, Pistons and Jazz, I wont quibble.) For many owners, not having a season means losing less money then having one, and if you aren't going to win games or earn money, what's the freaking point?

And that -- and no, not the scads of overpriced players on guaranteed contracts, because there have always been scads of those in every damn league that isn't the NFL -- is why we are in a lockout. That, and no other reason, no matter what nonsense you might read from the Bad Tooth or anyone else.

Here's the other problem: we're now in a society and situation where there's no such thing as a good year that doesn't end in a crown. Consider the Heat; they were two games away from the greatest shut your mouth season in sports, and instead, the world laughs like children farting in church. And that was in a year where Dwyane Wade was relatively healthy, and the star players were in their prime. Ask a Heat fan whether or not he had a good year; I don't think he'd answer in the affirmative.

Consider the Thunder, probably the single best value in NBA fandom this year. You got a Final Four team with players that were barely old enough to drink, in an arena and town that was single-minded in its devotion. And it ended with the young star point guard's mind and morals questioned as a Stephon Marbury-esque character lynching, the young center with a championship ring exposed as not having the lateral quickness to get stops, and a coach that looks totally out of his depth. The year was good, the ending was bad, and there's actually no guarantee they will get this far again. Had this year happened in Boston or Los Angeles, there's be puling and Russell Westbrook run off on a rail.

Or the Bulls. Sure, you had the MVP and a team that you adored on all levels, but in the playoffs they looked tapped out and ordinary, and that was true even in the first two rounds. Last year might have been as good as it gets. Boston's aging by the minute, the Lakers lost their coach... honestly, outside of the Mavericks, no fan seems all that thrilled about things right now. Part of that is simply where fans are in June, part of that is where people are after the years-old threat of lockout, and part of it is just the modern disease of demeaning any team or player without a ring.

But as for my call of how long this lockout will run... well, put it this way. I feel better about the NFL having a season on time then I do about the NBA. Because the NFL has money to lose. And the NBA is nothing but lose for all but the very few right now, and that's been true for a very long time.

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