Thursday, June 30, 2011

NBA Locks Out the Players

 Blog by Haz Bey
We all knew this would happen.  We all seen it coming.  We hoped the NBA would not follow the path the NFL has showed them, but they don't get it either.  Once again the fight between "Billionaires & Millionaires" in the NBA continues, but now under different circumstances.  With the most memorable season in since the late 80s & early 90s, the NBA was on it's way to a new "Golden Age".  The talent has never been better.  With LeBron, Kobe, Dirk, Wade, Durant, Howard, Rose, CP3 & Melo, the league has some of the most intriguing superstars it has ever had since the league had Jordan, Magic, Bird, Doc, Isiah, Wilkins, Barkley & Kareem all playing at the same time.  

Last season started with "The Decision" that led to the 2-time defending MVP LeBron James to take his "talents" to South Beach to team-up with fellow superstar Dwayne Wade & perennial all-star Chris Bosh to form the new, star-studded, Miami Heat.  The "alliance" gave the league much interest from "casual" NBA fans which ultimately led to a rise in ratings & attendance this season.  Whether fans wanted the Heat to be successful or fail, they watched regardless.  Last season ultimately ended with the Heat failing on the league's biggest stage to the Dallas Mavericks led by Dirk Nowitzki & Jason Kidd.  The same Dallas Mavericks that no one had faith in.

In between "The Decision" & The NBA Finals, we had the Lakers quest for a 3-Peat with Phil Jackson on his "Last Stand".  We had "The Carmello Anthony Saga" that led to the Nuggets to acquiring half of the New York Knicks roster in exchange for Melo & Chauncey.  We had the resurgence of the San Antonio Spurs.  We had Kevin Love making people tune-in to Timberwolves games to see him break the consecutive double-double streak.  We had the "Blake Griffin Show" all season long.  We had the rise of Derrick Rose from good player to a "mother-trucking" monster.  We had the Durant & Wesbrook combination becoming even more lethal than the year before. We had the Memphis Grizzlies amazing playoff run.  We had the Celtics changing the balance of power when they traded away their best post defender, Kendrick Perkins, praying that Shaq would be healthy for the playoffs, but he never was.  We even had Grant Hill dropping 30 plus at the age of 38.  A great season in my book.  Definitely one of the best ever. 

Now after such a great season, the NBA is willing to give up all that momentum to lock the players out.  In 1998-99 we lost 32 regular season games & more importantly, Michael Jordan, due to the length of the last NBA lockout.  Scary thing is that this current lockout may be even longer.  This is due to the fact that not only the "Billionaires" are fighting against the players, they are also fighting against each other.  Yeah, the owners for the Lakers, Celtics, Heat, Bulls, Knicks & Mavericks are all doing very well, but how about the owners of the Raptors, Wizards, Timberwolves, Nets & Hornets.  Lets just say not good.  So if the NBA loses a whole season, those teams that are losing money will not mind a year off. 

At the end of the day it's the Players that will have to give-in.  Shane Battier opened-up a can of worms when he said that NBPA Union Rep. Billy Hunter should reduce his $2,000,000 salary to a $1, but he is right.  While he is getting paid, players are not.  They follow Billy's lead & must trust in him to get the deal done, but what real sense of urgency does he have if he is still getting paid.  He has to feel it, like the players are going to feel it when the realization of no income week after week builds up come November. 

So with the league hard-set on losing all the benefits of being arguably the most popular sport in America since the NFL started it's lockout, we may find ourselves in unfamiliar territory.  No football, no basketball & if neither league comes to terms come November, baseball season will be over & professional team sports in America will be left with just hockey.  Seriously just hockey.  Now I am an NHL fan & I follow the sport, but the game itself is a different animal in the playoffs which makes the regular season pretty much a bore.  When you can earn points in the standings for losing in overtime means that there is a major flaw in their system.  And lets not forget some of the leagues biggest stars are not getting any younger.  Kobe, Duncan, Kidd, Pierce, KG, Nash, Ray Allen, Chauncey, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady & Grant Hill are all on the downside of their careers while they can still play at a high level, some on an elite status, we won't ever see the best of them ever again.  Remember Michael Jordan was already uncertain about his future 13 years ago & once the lockout finally ended he retired from the Bulls for good.  I don't want to see any of the players who are in the latter stage of their careers making the same decision because of the frustration from the lockout.  I doubt it will come to that, but I wouldn't be shock either.  All in all NBA, find a way to get a deal done ASAP.  I don't think you find out out the consequences if we start to lose games.