On the 10th of October, and after over a year-and-a-half of negotiating on a new collective bargaining agreement, the NBA commissioner David Stern announced that the first two weeks of the regular season had been officially cancelled, with even more cancellations implied if the players union and the owners continue to make no progress on a new agreement.
Needless to say this is damaging for the NBA, owners and players alike who are now fighting over what are quickly becoming pieces of a smaller and smaller pie. Millions of dollars already have been reportedly lost. Over a hundred games.
But while professional sports lockouts are not uncommon in the US, everybody should be concerned at exactly how damaging further cancellations can be to the league.
When the NHL had its labor disagreements seven-years-ago, that resulted in the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season, loss of untold revenue and a damaged reputation that some smaller teams are still trying to overcome.
The fans were so frustrated with the NHL that the Canadian Football League reported it’s best ratings in years. That’s right, people started watching Canadian football. Madness.
Now I’m not saying that NBA fans are going to suddenly drop NBA and start watching lacrosse or something, after all, the 2010-11 season had some of the highest ratings of all time, but there is without a doubt an undercurrent of apathy that appears to have taken hold in the NBA fanbase. Even in the commentators.
Perhaps after the recent NFL lockout earlier this year (which didn’t cost a single game) and subsequent ratifying of a new CBA fans are simply sick and tired of hearing about millionaires squabbling about how they are going to distribute billions of dollars. Of course, its not that simple. But you have to wonder if one of the wealthiest sport leagues in the world can do it why can’t the NBA?
The NFL lockout was certainly a mess with disunity within the players union, owners and myriad different lawsuits all over the place. But they got their act together when the season was on the line and got it done.
Can the NBA possibly do the same? It doesn’t look good, and I’m not sure either the owners nor players fully appreciate what is at stake.
It would be undeniably profound if one of the most successful and dramatic NBA seasons in history was immediately preceded with a cancelled season.
Now the commissioner has stated that the next round of talks on the 18th will have a mediator. Is that progress? I’m not so sure, unless it comes with a major attitude change from all involved. The owners, players and perhaps most importantly fans better get serious about settling the new CBA. Otherwise the unthinkable might happen.
People might get interested in Canadian Football again, and (lets face it) nobody wants that.
We all love rankings, but something we seem to love even more is correcting them, as there will always be a topic of debate in most list’s created, but the Sports Illustrated top 100 NBA players list involves a few rankings that make you shake your head.