Today the NBA released the 2011-12 regular season schedule. You’ll excuse me if I didn’t stop what I was doing to immediately begin circling dates and planning road trips.
By now you know the Lakers are slated to open the season against Oklahoma City and will get their now annual lump of coal on Christmas delivered by the Chicago Bulls.
Normally I’d have something more to say about the upcoming season but I can’t muster the energy necessary to care. Since the NBA and the players’ union has no desire to make any inroads to preserve every game on the schedule then I’m not going to have an urgency to purchase tickets or plan nights out watching the Lakers.
That the NBA lockout has occurred without so much as uproar from the players is telling. Instead of expressing outrage the majority have pulled out their passports. Instead of seeking justice in their home country, the players have sought paychecks in Europe.
Don’t get it twisted. I’m behind the players in this fiasco. That NBA owners have allowed their flawed business model to corrupt a profitable business is laughable. Resorting to locking out players they gladly agreed to pay is a mockery. Still, the overwhelming silence of the players is frightening.
Does anybody with an NBA contract care that professional hoops in this great country could be over as we know it?
It’s as if the NBA players assume that this whole process is a formality. That a deal will get done and it will be back to business as usual. Certainly that’s how it would seem. There is no rush to re-open negotiations. Just a date in the near future for both sides to find how just how far apart they truly are from one another.
Naturally there will be pleas made to appease the fans. As if we are the true victims in this mess. Been there, done that. Labor angst is so NFL three months ago.
That there are a multitude of options for players during this lockout is truly amazing. To think Kobe Bryant, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard can play in Europe, make great money and catch some good run is refreshing. It speaks to the ever growing popularity of the most addicting game in all of sports. There isn’t an athlete on this planet that doesn’t fancy themselves as a true baller.
The global popularity of hoops also speaks to the shrinking power of the NBA. While the league is in no danger of being surpassed by other leagues, there is certainly a much larger window of opportunity that has now opened for the rest of the world.
Some players will return from their overseas adventure refreshed to be back in the States once the lockout is lifted. Others may never return. So too will many passive fans who only latched onto the NBA out of LeBron hate, Kobe love or Tim Duncan indifference.
Whatever happens next, I only hope those in the negotiating room will do all in their power to assure we see every game on the schedule played out. Anything less would be an insult to the fans. We haven’t forgotten the Spurs’ tainted title when they defeated the 8th seeded Knicks in the Finals. We certainly won’t forget the owners’ mistaken dealings robbing us of a season sure to be filled with more drama than the newsstands in supermarket checkout lines. Most of all won’t forget the players that chose to cash-in overseas instead of protesting for their right to play here in the States.