You can kiss the 2011-2012 NBA season goodbye. This afternoon, the NBA players rejected the NBA’s last, best offer to end the lockout that began July 1st of this year. The NBA players union plans on disbanding and taking the league to court. If you’re looking for a ray of hope in this news… there isn’t one. Both sides will now dig their trenches deeper – the union marching towards decertification and the courts, the owners promising to drop their next offer to a 53-47% income split from a more reasonable, negotiable position. I’m guessing nobody on either side is thinking of all the arena and ticket workers that will lose their jobs in this, but that’s the cold, hard reality of what these two sides have done and are planning on doing.
I’m no labor expert, and I’m not even sure which side is most to blame (my heart tells me the owners), but if the 2004-2005 NHL lockout and history is any aide, then the season is finished. And, all the good things the NBA had going for it is down the crapper in this instant. Opinion seems to be on the side of the players eventually being crushed under the weight of the extended lockout and folding to a deal that is much worse in the long run, while sacrificing the season. Perhaps the players show more resolve than that, but I wouldn’t count on it. The owners are in this for the long haul… which sucks for NBA fans.
So here we are. Any good vibes about the NBA was just given a Bill Laimbeer clothesline. There’s no telling just how damning a lost season will be to the league’s popularity. The NHL was hurt badly after their own lost season, but the sport is back on an upward swing (albeit, playing their games on Versus). Will the NBA be punished more than the NHL because of their increased popularity, or will it mean that more fans get pissed off at the league and its players? Depending on how the next few months evolve, it could speak to just how much damage will be done to the sport. In my opinion, losing any fans to a lockout is too much, but some have cynically stated this is what Stern and the NBA wanted all along. If so, it’s one of the most maddening, selfish, ridiculous power plays in the history of sports.
Congratulations, David Stern and company. Well played. You had the league at its highest point in over a decade. You had more young, personable, likable stars than any league except the NFL. Hell, you even had LeBron James and the Miami Heat as the perfect supervillains too! I’m an NBA fan through and through. While everyone else was out partying in high school, I was watching Clippers/Warriors on League Pass Friday nights. That’s how much I love the Association… and a sad social commentary on my life. This news rips me up on the inside. Sure, I’ll come back eventually, but it won’t be easy and it won’t be without a lot of conflicting emotions of rage, anger, and regret. You had everything going for you and you decided to blow it up.