Know the Ledge: What NBA Players SHOULD Have Learned From the Lockout


By Charles C. Davis, Jr. – @coolblack06

I am not a basketball fan.

Before The Sportsfan Journal collective implodes, allow me to explain.

I’m not a basketball “fan” in that I am not fanatical about the sport.  While I definitely enjoy the game, I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, Dick Vitale.  I believe this is primarily because I can’t hoop.  Yeah, I know.  I’m a black male in America who doesn’t revel in a pick-up basketball game…but my games were (are) football and baseball.  However, if I DO happen to end up on your pick-up squad, you can trust that you’ll get a handful of good hard fouls from the kid.  But I digress.

As I wasn’t losing any sleep waiting for the start of a season that never came, I think that perhaps I viewed the proceedings of the NBA lockout from a different angle than most.  I sarcastically replied on a few blogs and posts that, in my eyes, the NBA lockout is a perfect example of what happens when a bunch of high school grads sit at the bargaining table with individuals who have net-worths of several hundred million dollars.

My tongue-in-cheek comment only really paints part of the picture.  In a league where only a fifth of its players have obtained an undergraduate degree, and 60% of its players are broke within five years of retirement, it’s not hard for me to understand how the players sat at the negotiations table and got crossed-up like they were at the top of the key trying to D up against Allen Iverson, circa 1996.  But let’s go deeper…

Could it be that the disengaged and laissez-faire attitudes of current NBA players shared by many contemporary athletes may have been their undoing?  Businessmen such as NBA owners make it a daily (hourly) practice to view their portfolios and ascertain not only what their present financial situation is, but to speculate on how many variables may impact their bottom-line in the future.  From the beginning, their position was articulate and clear.

The hallmark of many athletes of lore was their ability to reflect on the world around them and their willingness to use their positions to speak out against those things they felt unjust. I can’t help but wonder if a more engaged and well-rounded athlete would have been able to read the proverbial tea leaves and recognize that the world economies crumbling around their ivory towers may eventually come knocking at their doors of their employers and, ultimately, ringing their doorbell as well.

For now, all will be forgotten.  Fans, players and owners have what they want; an NBA season.  They have a ten-year deal in place which also gives either party the option to opt-out after year six.  However, to paraphrase the legendary and loquacious Eugene Edward “Mercury” Morris, “This same situation will not only be in their neighborhood but on their block and ready to knock on the door once again, in very short order.”  The only question is this time will players be ready to answer?

11 Replies to “Know the Ledge: What NBA Players SHOULD Have Learned From the Lockout”

  1. Good post Chuck and you are right. Part of the problem is that the players are ill prepared to fight the league. Yes, there is a players union but I don’t get the sense from this negotiation that they are doing much to do what unions do. Now I don’t know what training they get or not get but I do hope that this lockout will serve as a reason why the union leadership get more training and help on negotiation, book keeping, getting injunctions and court orders to get key documents from the other side etc. Also, I hope the players association would do more to give these young players and even older players tools on managing their money or at least tools so that they know what to look for if things get funny. Finally, retired players like Shaq who did get their degrees should reach back and share with these players why they should consider what Shaq did and finish their degree during the off seasons. Again, good post.

    1. Chuck Chillout aka @CoolBlack06 aka The Franchise #MoneyTeam aka Claude Thibadeaux [of French Guyana] aka The M.I.L.F. Whisperer aka The 5th Horseman [WHOOOOOOOO!] says:

      ^^Cherch. Tabanacuh. Kwah.

      1. Its frustrating to see folks be so independent and cocksure about certain things but then be timid and laid back on others. Kobe, Nash, LeBron and others should’ve been front and center in this situation and its sad that they weren’t.

        1. Chuck Chillout aka @CoolBlack06 aka The Franchise #MoneyTeam aka Claude Thibadeaux [of French Guyana] aka The M.I.L.F. Whisperer aka The 5th Horseman [WHOOOOOOOO!] says:

          Well you know, it’s the quintessential attitude of those who have “made it”…”What that gotta do with me?”

  2. Well said, Chuck.

    Players did nothing to bargain from a position of strength. They sat around expecting the owners to make an offer that they liked. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

    If you don’t want the hassle of playing overseas, forming a barnstorming league or doing anything to push back and make the owners nervous about your bargaining postion, then just take the offer and go back to work. Which is what they did.

  3. I wouldn’t blame it on them NOT having a degree. How would a degree in basket weaving (or any other of the easy majors a lot of big time college athletes have) help here? You don’t need a degree to be vocal. You don’t need a degree to be informed. Maybe they just depended on the men handling the negotiations to be their voice? Whether if that was the right move or not is up for debate.

  4. @Keith That sentiment goes to the root of what many folks say. “You don’t need a degree to be successful”…which taken by itself is true. For the purposes of a blog I won’t go into a long diatribe about educational attainment.

    My point moreso is that many contemporary athletes seem to only care about the new dunks comin out and playin the new Call of Duty. While diversion is needed by all of us, there too has to be balance. And I would just like for our athletes (as a collective)to be more savvy about the goings-on of not only their own world but their OWN lives.

  5. I don’t think that any of this lockout was about education. The owners opted out when they had an opportunity and basically negotiated from a point of power. They own the teams, the arenas, and wanted money back. A lot of this could have been averted had they gone about this differently. We always knew that they were going to get what they wanted on the BRI split because that’s where the money was (players giving back approx $300M a year for 10 years, or until they opt out in 6 years).
    Where the NBPA didn’t do themselves justice was with the PR battle. They needed someone to handle that side of things to battle Stern and his ability to go on just about any media outlet and paint the picture he wanted. The players ended up dissolving the union at a time when that was the last recourse and called the bluff of the owners. IF they would have won in court, they would have gotten 3 times the damages they were asking for. There’s an old Kenny Rogers song (know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em) that had to start playing in the owners heads. The risk just wasn’t worth it. So the players stuck it out were able to keep the mid-level exception and won on some other things.
    So the argument about the education side of things would definitely help these guys in general, but there are educated people that can’t manage money.

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