Shorter Contracts

As an NBA fan, I often feel like I don't have a dog in the fight when the players union and the owners square off to negotiate their collective bargaining agreement. A lot of what goes on is simply different groups of millionaires squabbling over how they carve up the large pie of dollars we fans contribute every year.

But this year, there's one issue that has my attention. David Stern wants shorter contracts, and I'm all for it.Short contracts are bad for regular people, who worry about health care, education, food, and shelter--because they need stability. But for people who make the big bucks, those things only concern players who have serious problems with furs, diamonds, blackjack, custom audio, and $500 room-service champagne.

In the NBA, shorter contracts would mean earning the check, year in and year out. It would mean more guys in contract years at all times. And the biggest prize of all: way fewer teams hampered by long-term deals with injured or ineffective players.

Think how much easier it would be to rebuild the Knicks if all those untradable, past-their-prime, highly paid players (Allan Houston, Anfernee Hardaway, Vin Baker) came off the books two or three years earlier.