By John Schmeelk
» More Columns
For a moment, I’m going to put aside BRI, negotiating leverage and decertification and get a little angry. There have been more people than anyone could count in this world that have made a ton of money taking advantage of people’s stupidity. Well, the NBA and their players are doing an amazing job of flipping the script. Their combined idiocy is going to cost each other hundreds of millions of dollars.
And here’s the best part of it: all this money is going to be lost over nonsense. The players and owners aren’t fighting over a hard salary cap, guaranteed contracts or even the split of revenue. They are seriously risking sports long term health over the use of the full mid-level exception and sign and trade deals by teams over the luxury tax threshold. Under the prior CBA, those two items have happened exactly 13 times. (According to NBA numbers)
Granted, the luxury tax penalty cliff is also still under debate, but the fact those two issues are also on the top of the list shows how utterly asinine this situation is. Both the owners and the players are willing to sacrifice not only a season their sports viability for two items that were barely an issue in the prior CBA. It’s borderline insanity.
Point the fingers at both sides. The owners said no to a deal that gets them the money back to make up for all their claimed losses. They got the players to make historic concessions, but it still wasn’t good enough. The players, meanwhile, rejected the best deal they were ever likely to see. They are risking everything to win on a couple of minor issues that won’t ever affect 95% of their members. They made these illogical moves because of ego. No one believes they are truly willing to miss a season or follow through on their lawsuit. Yet, we stand here staring oblivion right in the face.
The owners and David Stern are letting a group of about 12 (a minority) of hardline owners guide their negotiating strategy. Moderate and dovish owners have allowed that very vocal group to run roughshod over them. The big market teams also aren’t willing to be more generous in revenue sharing, which might help solve some competitive balance problems. The owners already won this negotiation by a long shot, but it still isn’t enough.
The players didn’t even have the guts to put the owner’s latest proposal to a fill vote out of fear it would be approved. Some teams reps weren’t even at the meeting in New York to agree to turn themselves into a Trade Association. Players all across the league were mad that they were not consulted before the decision was made. The players are letting union leadership, belligerent agents, and superstar players dominate the silent majority that just wants to play basketball. They still have a better system than the NFL and NHL, who both have more restrictive cap systems.
All of this is happening in an economy where businesses are struggling to make money, and people are struggling to pay their bills. Especially now, the American public isn’t going to have any patience for millionaires or billionaires fighting over scraps at a table that is already overflowing with a huge bounty. Forget both sides losing money this season because of missed games. Who knows how many fans are going to leave and never come back? They will spend their limited funds on entertainment elsewhere.
Then you have Etan Thomas, one of the player reps, comparing the NBA players to the Occupy Wall Street Protesters. As one of the people representing the richest 1% of America that’s keeping people like concession stand operators, parking attendants, and ushers out of work, finding solidarity with Occupy Wall Street might be the dumbest thing I ever heard.
As for the owners, they were coming off one of the most successful NBA seasons in recent memory. The NBA’s popularity was rising after a great finals and most of the country united on either side of the Miami Heat super team. The NBA had actually re-entered the national conscience. Now, even after getting every economic concession they wanted, the owners are willing to throw it all away.
They’re all idiots. This whole process has been an exercise in stupidity. That’s why I now think there’s a chance we are going to lose a season. Anyone who is stupid enough to get this far is dumb enough to throw a season away. Someone better pull their heads out of their you know what, and fast. Get smart and save this thing.
You can follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/Schmeelk for everything on the NBA lockout, Giants, Knicks, and a little bit of everything else.