Its been two weeks since my last post and it’s time for an update on the state of the league. The big news this week is Ron Artest officially changed his name. Hooray! Instead of being violently crazy he’s playfully crazy, and everyone can now sleep a little easier. Also, everyone is in Europe or China. Everyone except LeBron, of course. What’s his problem anyways? Oh, Michael Jordan was fined $100,000 and Javaris Crittenton is being charged with murder. Banner times for the NBA.
Meanwhile, the headline article on ESPN’s NBA homepage, much like my opening paragraph, is doing everything it can to avoid mentioning the lockout. I imagine this is the case for a couple reasons, most notably that there is absolutely no progress in negotiations. The two sides go into discussions, a few hours later they come out and have this to report: We stand united. Doesn’t matter which side you ask, the response is identical: We stand united. Someone should tell both sides to look at approval ratings for every faction of federal Government if they want to see how relevant their solidarity is to the American public.
Another reason ESPN doesn’t mention the lockout? No one gives a shit. Apparently more people care about who the best players are in a league that doesn’t exist (and for some reason there’s a picture of Tracy McGrady). Who’s the best player who will be playing in Turkey by the end of the year? Our panel says Chris Paul! Hopefully someone is taking notice of the fan apathy other than David Stern (who seems all to cognizant of what this might do to his legacy), because our love for the NBA isn’t unconditional, like the NFL experiences.
But what makes our current predicament so troubling is the conditions are pretty easy to meet on their end: Play the games that are scheduled to the best of your capability, overcharge us on everything, from parking to concessions to tickets, and we’ll continue to begrudgingly use our expendable income on your product. But for the time being we’re not even being placated to that extent, and with Americans already somewhat indifferent to the NBA, the mindset is starting to set in that the NBA is indifferent to us. This doesn’t seem like a sound business plan.
One would guess the lockout will end before the 2012 season is supposed to tip-off, but since there is nothing even remotely interesting to write about and no one else is causing any panic, let me attempt to: I see the NBA on the verge of being disbanded. It’s true. Something like this feels almost inevitable, and this is the perfect storm. A heated labor dispute, a failing economy, customer ambivalence…I’m pretty sure corporations with stronger foundations have failed. And it isn’t like over half these guys won’t find employment over in Europe, China or wherever else pro basketball leagues may exist. The owners will have to find new toys they pretend to be for profit only purchases. Sure, the players will make less money in their new leagues and the owners won’t have as much fun with their new toys, but it will be a mostly happy ending for everyone involved in negotiations.
That is, except for us, of course. The fans. We’ll be relegated to watching basketball in foreign countries at three in the morning or seeking out other forms of entertainment…
…Actually, come to think of it, no NBA probably won’t be all that bad for us, either. We can save the money we blow on watching, attending and celebrating NBA games for vacations, contribute it towards investments, spend it on loved ones, whatever your bag may be. Plus there’s NFL and college football, college basketball, NHL experienced a bit of a resurgence last season, there’s always fall TV, film awards season, the start of baseball, occasionally the end of baseball, the Masters and whatever other fringe sporting events that exist from the end of October until the end of June. That is, the duration of the NBA season.
Diehards like myself will miss it but most would consider my viewership excessive, and I certainly don’t represent the majority. But even I’m a film and TV nerd who loves fantasy football and lives in Columbus, a mainstay for premiere college athletics. I like watching the Hawks-Bucks game in the dead of winter, but will somehow persevere if those games disappear. The point to take away from all this is that it’s probably ill-advised for the NBA to let us find out what life is like without them, because odds are they’re not going to like the result.