NBA needs to learn from NFL and end lockout
Published: Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 16:07
The NFL got it done.
The lockout is a thing of the past, and while it wasn't avoided in the first place, missed games were. That's what matters most.
Unfortunately for the NBA, that means fans are going to be looking to the squabbling billionaire owners and millionaire players involved in their own respective lockout and saying, "If the NFL can do it, why can't you?"
Sure, the issues at stake in the NBA's lockout are different.
While both disputes had plenty of their own respective smaller points, the driving force behind both lockouts was money. However, the NFL lockout was based on the dispersion of the league's immense profitability. There was a lot of money being made, and the players felt entitled to more of it, among other things.
The NBA, however, is dealing with the opposite. Most of the league's owners say they're losing money, and the players are going to have to do some compromising for the league itself to stay profitable. The business model needs a bit of tweaking in order for the league to be successful for the long term. Many would argue that the players have too much power, especially when it comes to free agency.
But those issues, and their validity, are neither here nor there right now.
Neither the players nor the owners are going to have much success trying to make their cases to the public. In the NFL lockout, a good deal of the public perception was that the greedy owners were holding out too much of the money the players earned on the field. In the NBA, the more frank realization is that the greedy players are making too much money, so much so that the greedy owners aren't turning the profits they'd like.
Good luck telling the average fan that the money he or she spends on tickets, parking, jerseys and concessions isn't making the organization enough money to go around.
It doesn't take an overly qualified individual to point out that both sides are going to have to make some serious concessions.
And they'd better do it quick.
All the chatter is that everyone had better brace for a long, hardened battle. This could last a while. If this ends up being the case, the owners and players may find there is even less profitability to go around whenever they return to business.
The NBA has a good thing going with its current star-power situation. There are a lot of great players in the league right now, many of whom are still coming of age. There are some great storylines to follow, and players like LeBron James and his Miami Heat circus got people watching more games than they might have ordinarily watched.
It's a great product with plenty of momentum.
All that good mojo could go down the drain the moment games start to be missed.
Yes, the NBA has survived a lockout-shortened season before. But with the NFL working through its own lockout in time to play games on schedule, this particular lockout will be held to a higher standard.
Fans won't, and shouldn't have to, differentiate between the severity of the rifts of the two lockouts. Fans only have to measure the success of these labor negotiations by one factor: whether games are missed.
The NBA could survive a shortened season. It could survive a missed season. People love basketball, and there's nothing like the game played at the level that the NBA brings it. But make no mistake, tons of casual fans will be lost. Interest will go down, substantially. And public perception of the players as overpaid divas will quadruple.
The NBA will likely survive whatever negative effects missed games would bring. But why just survive?
It may just be wishful thinking, but were the NBA to solve its labor dispute before the season is scheduled to start, it could continue to build on last season's momentum instead of just surviving.
It may be wishful thinking, but hey, the NFL did it.