So here we are. 24 hours after the latest proposal by the NBA was rejected by its players, fans are now faced with the harsh reality of what I'd already accepted months ago: there will be no games played in the Association this year.
I'm not mad, angry, hurt or upset. I wasn't fooled by the phony hopes and optimism that both sides have projected towards fans at various points throughout these very contentious labor negotiations. The same misguided hope and optimism that now have a lot of rabid NBA fans seemingly at the brink of depression. No, not me. I already knew better.
On August 3rd, I had a conversation with a friend of mine who works for the NBPA. He's a former player whose main job now is to guide and advise rookies on everything from lifestyle traps to money management once they make it to the League. He and I talked at length over the phone, and after our conversation, I sent two tweets basically letting people know not to get their hopes up. I knew then what we're all seeing now. He and I had several conversations at length during the season about the lockout and he'd already warned me that a lost season was a possibility. Now it's a reality.
At first, like most people, I didn't want to believe that we would be NBA-less for an entire season or more. After the “Summer of LeBron,” the '10-'11 season was one of the most exciting (and controversial) that we'd seen in God knows how long. The league was at the peak of its popularity and no way would players and owners kill that kind of momentum for the sake of a few (hundred million) dollars. And ultimately, they didn't.
The players gave back all of the money that owners claimed that they'd lost and cited as a reason for the lockout, and we would later find that it wasn't even about the money between employer and employee, but control. Players were given too much power in the last CBA and the owners wanted it back. If they could line their pockets with a few bucks in the process, then so be it. Double win.
But the players weren't having it, and I don't blame them for fighting for what they believe in; for fighting for what's right. Today is the first day that guys are missing checks, and they had every reason in the world to take the deal that was on the table if it was about the money, but it's not. It's about the principle. Fans pay top dollar to watch the guys in the uniforms, not the guys in the suits; guys that most people wouldn't recognize walking down the street or could pick out of a lineup if they had to.
But the worst case scenario is here now and, in my opinion, it's four months too late. The NBPA is disbanding and this thing is about to play out in a court of law instead of the court of public opinion, depriving all of us who are crazy about NBA basketball the opportunity to watch these guys play on the only court that really matters.
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