Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Better World Of Hoop

Indulge me for a few minutes, will you? My baseball and football laundry are wretched, my only playing fantasy team stinks, I'm on a losing streak in poker and the day job is never-ending and today wasn't a good day. So I'm going to get all metaphysical on you.

People tell me that the players have no leverage, that they can't start their own league, that there are no venues or backers or people willing to charge down the uncharted mine shaft of their own league.

People tell me that the owners always win these things, and that it doesn't really matter, because as soon as they win them, they go back to finding the loopholes and fighting each other for the best talent, which means cheating each other as badly as they are currently trying to cheat the players and the dwindling number of people who actually care.

And that's probably all true. It's certainly how you'd bet.

But imagine that the whole thing goes wildly overboard. Imagine that the owners get well and truly punished in court. Imagine that if and when they do settle, the public stays away, the foreign-born players stay home, and a solid number of players, a la Shawn Kemp during the last lockout, are never the same afterward.

Imagine that it's actually the end of the league. Or, at the very least, the end of the league being the best league.

It's actually not that impossible. As the FIBA results show, especially in the off-year events that aren't the Olympics, the U.S. isn't the be-all and end-all of hoop now. Like soccer, the game is played on six continents and draws from an incredible pool of talent; if North America goes offline for a while, the game will continue. And college basketball ratings are going to go through the roof this year.

Basketball does not need the NBA.

It really doesn't need David Stern, Michael Jordan, Ted Dolan, Donald Sterling, Paul Allen and all of these other people that are putting themselves in front of the game.

No one, really, does.

Now the public? Many of them, particularly in plus and blessed markets like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami and so on, need their teams, and their rivalries. They care about these things much more than the players or owners do, of course.

But that can change.

If there were no NBA, and well, that could happen... what could arise to replace it? Because pro hoop has too many players and too many fans, with limited barriers to entry; it will exist. And on some level, I'm more excited by that than another year of the current system. Maybe because I've been watching the Sixers for too long, but still.

Consider a system more or less like independent pro wrestling circuits -- small, concentrated leagues in regions, with some players that you've heard from, and many others that you have not. Playing in small gyms for not very much money, with questionable refs and wild home-court advantages, tons of Internet streams and wackiness, with minimal commercial interruption or endorsement.

How bad does that sound, really?

Give it to me with a side of unfortunate uniforms, crazy rule changes, low prices for seats and an English Premier League system of relegation and ascension, and I'd take it in a heartbeat over the current system. It would ruin my fantasy league, make watching games a chore and an inconvenience, open the players up to ridicule, end gambling, and spawn an awful lot of thugging ball...

But it would serve the game more. It would give more markets a team they can care about. It would eradicate so many of the current sins of the system, teach a glorious and resounding lesson to the 1% management, safeguard MLB and NFL and NHL fans for time immemorial, and maybe even help to curtail the corruption of the American educational system, aka how colleges serve as de facto major sports league owners, rather than institutes of higher learning.

So, NBA owners?

Keep the lockout going. Don't give an inch. Show the world what you are made of. Follow up on Stern's insane threat of making the terms worse over time. Hire scabs and charge full price. Screw public relations into the ground, and play your game for the short-term win that is the limit of your imagination and interest. Fire all of the little people that work for you. Continue to sell the merch at full price. Gouge your season ticket holding methadone addicts for all that they are worth. Continue to believe that your league is a necessity to American life, rather than a subsidiary diversion in an era with an exploding amount of diversions, and a generation growing up that will happily change brands once they stop being entertained.

Burn the village and dance as well as your pampered and pestilent asses can, around the flame. Make sure that you win; accept nothing less than total and absolute victory, of a fashion that would make a Chinese sweatshop owner proud.

Because the more damage you do, the better it is for the game in the long term. You are nothing more than abusive and inefficient stewards. The land will outlast you, and be richer for your failure.

And it's not as if any decent or thinking human being can think any less of you, after all...


Anonymous said...

To blame only the owners in this shows a complete lack of objectivity, or rationality for that matter. I'm not going to feel bad for a guy who plays 5-10 minutes a night and has to take a "haircut" from 5.5 million to 5 million. Sorry.

DMtShooter said...

True. And our bench warmer got to that point in his professional life through being born into the right family, rather than working at his craft and putting in years of travel and toil. He also never spends that money in his local economy, improves the lives of at-risk people, and forced some poor, poor owner from signing him in the first place. Probably through witchcraft.

To blame anyone but the owners shows a complete lack of knowledge about the word "lockout." Also, the difference between Rich and Wealth...

Anonymous said...

I had no idea all the owners inherited their teams. Don't confuse all Wealth with inheritance and being "born into the right family." Before you cast your wide brush, do some research. I know that would be a first for this blog.

Alex Meruelo, Hawks majority owner - his family fled Cuba and he began his life working in his family's tuxedo business.

Michael Jordan Bobcats owner- I believed he "toiled."

Jerry Reinsdorf, Bulls owner - son of a sewing machine salesman.

Mark Cuban, Mavs owner - son of an automobile upholsterer.

Tom Gores, Pistons owner - born in Israel, grew up in Michigan. Self made.

Joe Jacob, Warriors owner - father worked at a paper company, mother at a grocery store.

Herb Simon, Pacers owner - son of a tailor.

Donald Sterling, Clippers owner - son of Jewish immigrants.

Jerry Buss, Lakers owner - former chemist, put himself through college.

Glen Taylor, Timberwolves owner - grew up on a farm.

Richard DeVos, Magic owner - self made, WWII vet.

Ted Leonsis, Wizards owner - son of a waiter and a secretary.

DMtShooter said...

OK, you win. Blame should be split evenly between the people locking the doors and the people trying to work. And capitalism only works when people you like get paid. Glad we cleared that up.

As for research, please do more. On your own blog. Because the reason why you had to do that research is that no one gives a flying leap at a rolling donut what an NBA owner did to make heir money. They care about what they are doing to their teams.

DMtShooter said...

Oh, and continue to embrace Sterling. That's a winning moment for you.

Anonymous said...

Shocking someone as angry as you writes a blog. No doubt in your basement. I'll leave now and promise never to return. Sorry to cut your readership in half.

DMtShooter said...

But not without coming back to check on if your comment was published, or how I'd respond to it. This back and forth has never happened on a blog before.

Thanks for stopping by, and going to the awesome power and originality of the double-barreled basement blogger low traffic move. Sadly, it's all true: I've written 3,700+ posts over five years for no money and no traffic, and will stop now that you've revealed my dark and terrible secret.

Anyway, as I'm writing this for no one, I'll cut it short. Go with God, and keep up the good fight for the NBA owners. I hope they are paying you. Or anyone.

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