And just like that the NBA season could be all but over. There is no real surprise in the union rejecting the last and supposedly best offer from the owners. If there is any intrigue it is how quickly the players met, mulled and moved on from the offer.
David Stern issued a warning that after this offer the size of the pie allocated to the players will only shrink. Thus the union is going to take the leap off the decertification cliff. Disbanding the union is a move long overdue. A move that should have been made months ago, but none the less becomes the only move.
By doing so the players will then be able to sue the NBA owners. What happens after that is where things get ugly.
This will almost certainly doom the 2011-12 season. Not even Kobe Bryant could close his fellow players on the deal. But that seems to be the way the owners intended all along.
There were plenty of rumors that some owners were hoping for a universal rejection of their current offer. From here out we’ll learn a lot about those that are willing to work towards salvaging a season and those that were just playing chicken.
At this point there is plenty of blame to go around.
David Stern’s continued insistence on manipulating the union by imposing selfish deadlines has been very instrumental in fueling many of the hard feelings between the two sides. Derek Fisher took far too long to step up and assert himself as the elected representative for the players. Billy Hunter was foolish to assume the owners were going to bargain in good faith. The owners are guilty of greed and an inability to be unified in their demands.
Now I won’t go into a diatribe on how the fans are the real losers. We’re just losing a brand of entertainment. Our pockets aren’t missing out on spending money we should have likely saved in this economy. Our loved ones won’t have to schedule in dates and times that are off limits due to our hoops affinity.
The players and owners are the real losers. When the opportunity to take the NBA to the next level arose, the lockout killed any potential progress. No league will ever rival the NFL in this country. But the NBA was surely making inroads football never could. However any and all of that will be lost once Executioner Stern drops the axe on the season.
Coming off a year in which the interest in the NBA was reaching new levels, this is a moment that will be remembered as one of the great mistakes in modern history from a business standpoint.
People such as myself and those that read this blog will return to the NBA no matter what. We love the game and enjoy seeing it played and coached by the best. That will not change. But we alone cannot make the NBA a profitable league. For that, Stern and his cronies need the passive fans to get involved and spend their cash.
A canceled season will surely cool whatever warm feelings were being spread to fans on the periphery.
That is how you go about killing your brand. That is exactly what this lockout has done in many ways.
The game will always be here with or without the NBA. However the NBA may be on its way to becoming extinct. Stern’s fatal mistake was thinking his league is bigger than the game. He might have to learn the hard way that his legacy could be tied to the moment the NBA became a footnote in American sports.