Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ten NBA Lockout Consolations

Well, folks, this is more or less the first night of the year in which the lack of NBA basketball actually impacts anyone, and other than wondering just what the hell I'm going to do with my fantasy league, there really isn't that much impact on my life. And I'm a big freaking NBA fan, or at least would be if my laundry (the Sixers) were anything more than an occasionally pleasant sideshow.

Part of that, of course, is the fact that I'm probably just 2-3 games away from getting sucked into yet another midseason Eagles run, but in that, it's not a unique experience. As the ratings show, the world really just wants as much NFL as they can get, and won't start to miss pro hoop until Christmas, and "miss" might be too strong of a word, really. I'm sure that Mavs Fan and Celtics Fan and Lakers Fan and Bulls Fan, and maybe six other fan bases with hope and/or no other local team to distract, misses the Association terribly. I miss having another league to distract me from my terrible fantasy football team, but I'm also feeling more than a little relief at not having to do the research to properly draft a team.

And so, in that vein of trying to find the good, here's ten reasons why even NBA Fan can feel OK about this latest pointless exercise in oligarchic abuse...

10) You probably don't know anyone who is losing their job over this. Sure, there are thousands of people who are biting it, but it's not as if parking attendants, overpriced restaurant workers and team personnel are, you know, people.

9) It's fun to watch NBA writers whiff on the coverage. A week ago, everyone thought we were on final approach to a deal; now, it's clear that this was a pipe dream. So all of those guys knew squat, and continue to know, well, squat. Which we all knew, but still, fun.

8) Eventually, people will break ranks and beef. Last week, the Miami Heat's owner went on Twitter to blow a lot of David Stern fined cash, and I'm still kind of amazed that Mark Cuban, Donald Sterling and Ted Dolan haven't also found a microphone. On the player's side, there will be dozens of guys looking to break herd soon; it's not as if a union with guys like whatever Ron Artest is calling himself this week, Stephen Jackson and Gilbert Arenas are going to keep quiet when they start pissing away millions for no actual benefit.

7) Occupy Wall Street is going to make the story that this is equally the problem of owners and players a whole lot easier to sell. Bank of America just walked away from its idiot debit bank fee gouge plan, we've stopped talking about killing Social Security, and no matter what you think about what's been going on, it's more popular than the Tea Party loons. Which means that the usual media sell job for the billionaires isn't going to happen, at least not as much. That's something of a relief.

6) This should stop any foreign team nonsense for a while. For 20 odd years now, we've all heard about how there could be a team in London or Tokyo or Mexico City or New York (I kid, I kid). Once this thing is over, assuming it ever ends, we'll probably wind up seeing consolidation, rather than expansion or move. (And when that happens, and you don't see any corresponding rise in Basketball Excellence, because fewer NBA teams will just mean fewer of the world's best players come here, rather than stay in their own countries... well, that's one more moment of certain basketball writers not knowing squat.)

5) There's the remote chance that an owner will be hurt by this. The Maloofs in Sacramento, Michael Heisley in Memphis, Dolan... some of these guys, well, just aren't *that* bright, as this whole sorry experience has shown. If even just one owner winds up bankrupt over this -- just one, dear Lord, just one! -- and we all get to mock him in public? That's more than a little bit of a win there, really. (And my wet dream, of course, is that one of these assclowns somehow wins up homeless under a bridge, or standing in their used to be front yard during the foreclosure sale. Be still, my beating heart.)

4) Good seats may actually be available to real fans, at a tolerable price. On September 11, I was able to watch the Eagles play the Rams from second row seats for a cost that, even with airfare, was less than I would have paid locally, because I paid for them before the lockout was over, and the seller got the jitters. Once this thing ends, there will be a strong reaction to not go to the games, especially among the corporate set. So for the lifers who will always watch pro hoop -- and yes, that's way too many of us -- there will be a shakeout of the bandwagon types. Not the worst thing in the world.

3) Even greater competitive imbalance. I don't know about you, but the best moment of over-the-top hypocrisy from this has been that the NBA -- the league that more or less looked the other way when the refs threw the Kings-Lakers series to the big market team, and did a happy little dance when the T'Wolves giftwrapped Kevin Garnett to the Celtics, and Pau Gasol to the Lakers -- is very worried about how only the big market teams can compete for the crown. (And yes, yes, I know, the Grizz could wind up "winning" the Gasol trade, which is only because Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson turned Pau into the most talented big man enigma since Shawn Kemp. But I digress.) Because the stress of this is only going to cause more fire sales to the teams who can still make payroll. So enjoy the 4 or 5 teams who win more than 2 out of every 3 games, despite the leveling effect of more games in less time. Fah.

2) The rebirth of college hoop. With no domestic game to go to, you'll see more talented young players taking the black market compensation slave game to new levels of actual athleticism and star power. It'll be just like, well, never, or maybe the early '80s Big East. Especially if this thing drags out all the way to next year. But don't worry... the type A coaching dictators and media geishas will still make watching too much of this disagreeable. Even beyond the over the top toxicity of the people who cover it.

1) More high test groupies for the rest of us. Hey, they have to go somewhere, don't they?

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