Countdown to Catastrophe: NBA Lockout Looms

Let’s not kid ourselves. We could be looking at the end of professional basketball as we know it. With mere hours remaining until the current CBA expires the 2011-12 NBA season hangs in the balance.

Much like the NFL the owners are seeking to get a bigger piece of the pie at the expense of the players. Unlike the NFL there are serious solvency issues that must be addressed.

The NBA has become a cash cow for players skilled enough to make a living out of playing hoops. That’s not to say that every NBA player is making bank. Most come and go without so much as a 10-day contract and cup of coffee in the world’s best basketball league. However, since Kevin Garnett first broke the bank with the Minnesota Timberwolves over a decade ago things have drastically changed for franchise players.

Suddenly guys like Joe Johnson are cashing in on deals more lucrative than Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson could have dreamed of.

That’s not to say modern players are undeserving of the money coming their way. As the league has become more profitable it is only right the men who make the game what it is are allowed to get their fare share of the wealth.

In fact, the players aren’t alone.

Just ask Phil Jackson who pocketed a cool $12-million last season. And no matter what you hear the owners crying many are making money hand over fist. While the argument is that small market teams can’t compete, just think of the major market teams that have had no desire other than to turn a profit (just think Clippers and Knicks if you need a point of reference).

Whatever the argument it seems all but certain that the owners will lockout the players if not tonight then surely in the coming days. This has not been some well kept secret either. This issue has been looming for sometime and little was done to try and avoid it.

For David Stern the timing couldn’t be any worse. Coming off of a fantastic season the NBA is primed to explode into the orbit of the NFL. That is about as good as it gets for any sports league in this country. Nothing will ever eclipse pro football but that doesn’t mean the potential to increase revenue to NFL standards isn’t possible.

Being that the Golden State Warriors recently sold at the highest price in NBA history tells you a lot.

There is plenty of money to be made, the NBA just needs to go out and put its logo on all that cash.

Much like the NFL also, NBA owners are to blame for this fiasco. They agreed to this CBA and now they want a do-over.

Naturally the players will be put in an awkward spot. Imagine if you asked for a certain salary at your job and your boss gladly agreed to pay it. Then some years later he asks you to take a pay cut saying your salary is too high and you were greedy for asking that much in the first place.

I’m not taking sides just yet but you can’t tell me this any fault of the players. If NBA owners want a hard cap now it is only because they overestimated their business model after the last lockout.

However this shakes out it feels likely that we won’t see a full season in 2011 if we have one at all. I just hope that the owners have learned their lesson. This cycle of locking out players once a decade is already old. At some point the NBA has to take a long look in the mirror and determine if this is going to be a recurring theme or a necessary evil.

If it’s a necessary evil then so be it. Just the cost of doing business I suppose.

However if this is just going to keep happening every time some owner fails to turn a profit then it’s time to seriously explore a promotions and relegations model for franchises. Just like the players, if you can’t hack it as an owner your franchise will fade in basketball oblivion while the stronger ones thrive.

The NBA survived the last lockout but look how long it has taken to regain all that post-Jordan popularity. How much longer will it take to regain all of this LeBron hate? Only time will tell and right about now the clock is ticking.

Tags: David Stern Joe Johnson Kevin Garnett Magic Johnson Michael Phil Jackson

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