NBA shows it has no game
Why did the league cancel two weeks? Because it plays the fans for fools, mostly
You haven't heard the fans, or the game itself mentioned much lately, have you? That's because they don't factor into this discussion at all. It was always about people saving themselves: owners asking the players to bail them out of bad business moves, players asking to preserve their cushy status with the highest average salaries among American team sports.
Two Weeks' Notice
Notable games canceled by NBA on Monday night.
|Bulls at Mavericks, Nov. 1
|One of three games scheduled for Opening Night. The Bulls won both games with Mavs last season; meeting between reigning MVP (Derrick Rose) and Finals MVP (Dirk Nowitzki).|
| Thunder at Lakers, Nov. 1
|Teams split the four regular season meetings last season; Lakers have won 14 of the last 16 meetings. Prior to 2010-11 the Lakers had won 12 straight vs the Thunder.|
|Heat at Knicks, Nov. 2
|Teams split the four meetings last season; Carmelo Anthony was on the Knicks for one game vs the Heat, scoring a game-high 29 points in a win at Miami; LeBron James has averaged 30.5 PPG at Madison Square Garden.|
| Magic at Heat, Nov. 3
|Teams splits the four meetings last season; LeBron James averaged 30.0 PPG against the Magic last season.|
|Mavericks at Spurs, Nov. 4
|Spurs won 3 of the 4 meetings last season; Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki have faced off 41 times in the regular season with the Spurs winning 22.|
|Hawks at Bulls, Nov. 5
|Rematch of last season's East semifinals won by the Bulls in 6. The Hawks are now 0-15 all-time in the conference semis under the current format set in 1970-71.|
|Thunder at Mavericks, Nov. 5
|Rematch of 2011 West finals won by Dallas in 5. The home team won each of the regular-season meetings last season; Games 4 and 5 of the WCF were both big comeback wins for the Mavs.|
|Spurs at Lakers, Nov. 9
|Last season marked the first time since 2006 that neither the Lakers nor Spurs made it to the West finals. Tim Duncan is 24-20 all-time against Kobe Bryant.|
|Thunder at Bulls, Nov. 10
|Teams split the two meetings last season (home team won both); Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant have played each other six times, with both players each winning three games;|
|-- Compiled by Micah Adams and ESPN Stats & Information|
That's the realization that hit me Monday as we awaited word on the last-minute labor negotiations. At this point I was actually rooting against a simplistic end to the lockout. Because to end it without anything more drastic than a lower revenue share for the players would mean the past four months were a complete waste of time. You know those studies that attempt to calculate the cost to businesses from employee time spent following the NCAA tournament? I want one of those done for the time spent analyzing issues and negotiating points that won't wind up in the new collective bargaining agreement.
I was stunned the owners moved away from a hard cap. Everything I had been told from their side was that it was a mandatory part of a new labor agreement. That didn't mean they couldn't mimic the effects of a hard cap through other means, but the fact that the NBA didn't try to jam the original version down the players' throats actually made me think a deal was possible in time to save the season.
My mistake. I believed. Lesson No. 1 from this lockout: Don't believe what's being offered to you.
You know what else the NBA is asking us to believe? That a new system will automatically eliminate the case of the overpaid player. Why should we believe that when, for the most part, these are the same owners and general managers who continued to overpay players despite all of the cost-containment mechanisms that were already in place.
The other fallacy is that if the owners get what they want it will promote competitive balance throughout the league. As if that were a priority to them. If it were, the NBA would have trotted out details of its proposed revenue-sharing plan a lot earlier than this month. They might have even had something ready to go in June, when there was still a chance to avert a lockout in the first place.
Further evidence of the NBA's disconnect from the fans is the way the league envies the sweet economic deal the NHL made after the league detonated its 2004-05 season even though the model NBA fans would like to see is what the NFL has. While it's impossible for the NBA to completely duplicate the NFL's balanced revenue (the NFL has strictly national TV contracts instead of the disparate local TV deals in the NBA) there is one option you've never heard mentioned: weighted schedules. Good teams play harder schedules, bad teams play softer schedules based on the previous season's finish. That's a factor that can propel former doormats into the playoffs, and keep the hope train running throughout the league.
But the NBA would never adopt that because now it would mean the bad teams wouldn't get as many (or in some cases, any) chances to sell tickets to see the glamour squads come to town. Once again money trumps everything else. The NBA way is no longer about showcasing the game to the widest possible audience. If that were the case, they'd be playing basketball on national TV on Nov. 1. Instead, there's this.