Friday, October 14, 2011

All I Want For Christmas Is A New Pro Hoops League

So now, three days after killing the first two weeks of the year, NBA Executioner David Stern says that Christmas is canceled if the players don't roll over in five days.

No, seriously.

And I understand if your initial, lizard-brain level feeling about this is a pox on both of their houses. And I understand if you hate pro hoop, though how people like the college brand and hate the grown ups just doesn't make sense to me, and never has. And I even understand if you think that the players are all overpaid genetic lottery winners, enablers of parasites, beaters of women and children and, well, "uppity." Fine. Whatever. Hate you want to hate; it's a free country.

But if you are cheering on the lockout, hoping that it will lead to the long-term absence of pro hoop from your life, and the glorious new age of NHL coverage, no guaranteed contracts, playoff level intensity on Tuesday night games in February. and the elimination of gangsta rap and the eradication of cornrows or tattoos as nice white men come out of the corn fields and start making mid-range jumpers...

Please. Just. Stop. It.

Because here's the thing; if you are happy about this, you kind of hate capitalism, and like unemployment. You enjoy the misery of people who have done nothing to you (and yes, NBA Fan is miserable, and will be for a long, long time). You're cheering on the loss of jobs in a terrible economy, from not just the people who work for the teams, but also the parking folks, vendors, trainers and so on, and so on. And I think all of that is petty, and wrong, and mean, and pathetic.

Much like, well, David Stern.

He's taken the 25 year-plus legacy of what he's done for basketball and more or less thrown it into the trash in the past two years leading up to this. He allowed the death of hoop in Seattle and Vancouver, two markets that are clearly better in the long run than Memphis and Oklahoma City. And now that he's more or less engaging in escalating threats that stagger the credibility of a five year old, he's gone into full-bore wrestling heel / terrorist.

The Association could announce an end to this tomorrow by ending the lockout and continuing with the current rules of the road. The players are in shape. The coaches thrive on crises / deadline opportunities to steal games from their rivals by working harder. No games need to be missed. At all. No support staff needs to lose their job. That's all on Stern, in his attempt to gain leverage and break the players to his will. He'll probably succeed in doing that, just as employers have succeeded in breaking workers to their wills for decades now in this country. We didn't get to the place where the 1% own so much without effort.

The NBA is the third largest professional league in America. It employs tens of thousands of people, directly or indirectly. It is one of the few remaining things in the world where Americans can say that this product is made here, mostly staffed by their countrymen, and the finest of its kind in the world. Pro hoop is played on six continents; it is only played at the highest level here.

And it's in the process of killing itself to satisfy the whims of a few; not the 1%, but the tiniest fraction of the 1%.

Are NBA players overpaid? Of course. Are the games too expensive to go to? Sure. Do commercial sponsors irritate you with their smarmy ads? You'd have to be dead for that not to be the case. But that's capitalism. Accept it or not. Players play, rise to the top or fall by the wayside.

NBA owners? Cartels. Thieves. Hateful on every level.

So the lockout isn't to gain competitive balance, or the end to bad long-term contracts, or to let Plucky Little Market Team have a chance to win. The Association hasn't cared for any of that for, well, ever, and will forget everything about that if and when this thing ever ends.

It's just about squeezing cash away from the people who actually do the work, suffer the injuries, have an exceptionally limited career time span, are held accountable for their failures rather than being bailed out by a cartel, and who are rich... but not, in the important distinctive words of Chris Rock, wealthy.

It's a disgrace. If you like that it's going away, you are aiding and abetting to that disgrace. The fact the the media is covering this as an even distribution of blame is also a disgrace. And the idea that anyone's life is better because another way out of poverty and into athletics can go away might be the biggest disgrace of all.

So if you want to know who's to blame for the NBA lockout, it's very simple. You blame the people who put the locks on the doors and stopped the games.

And if you are anything like me, you hope like hell that capitalism will correct this cartel with vengeance, and soon... and that some other bright people who *can* figure out a way to make money start their own damned league. Like, say, tomorrow.

After all, we've got a Christmas to save.


Anonymous said...

Hey Dave,

Just wanted to drop you a line to say I've enjoyed reading your blog now for the last six months, and this post is a terrific example of why I try to steer people here. Keep up the great work.

A team member on your advertising overlord

DMtShooter said...

Aw shucks. I'm all a verklempt here.

snd_dsgnr said...

I don't hate the NBA, but I do prefer the college game.

I like that there are tiny schools that can challenge the giants of the sport. I like that there are players with no real shot at playing in the pros that pour their hearts out just for the game. I like that the short nature of player careers means that fans develop a long term interest in the program, not just individual players. I like that the one-and-done nature of the NCAA Tournament gives it an "anything can happen" feel.

I won't tell you that the level of basketball is higher, because it obviously isn't. But I do find college ball to be, on average, more entertaining. But then I was born and raised in central North Carolina, so I'm supposed to be like that.

About your actual point of the post though, I have to admit that I do find it kind of persuasive. I was never really "cheering" the lockout, but I did tend to side with ownership since there are teams that lose money.

After thinking about it though, if my employer announced that it intended to make across the board pay cuts then I wouldn't exactly be happy about that. I can't imagine anyone else would be either, and aside from the scale of the dollars involved I don't really see how the players' resistance is all that different from what would happen in any industry.

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