I hate the NBA lockout. I really do. I want nothing more than for the lockout to end. But I know how supremely unfair the owners are being so I want the players to win. Maybe its the climate of the country right now. The little guy has been getting shit on over and over and over again, and yeah the players are millionaires, but the analogy holds true: those in power want to crush those that don’t have any. Occupy NBA Headquarters here I come.
For all of the desire I have for the players to get their due, the reality is their leadership is completely fucking up their chance to win over the public for the first time in a major sports league negotiation. The world used to be employer friendly, and the players were making so much money that people were actually siding with employers that made 1000x more money than the players did, and largely from businesses that were much bigger and more powerful than their NBA squads. Nevertheless, the public sided with the owners. Here are two ways to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
1. Make it known that the “blood issue” at play is about protecting the middle class.
As a Lakers fan I really, truly hate Kevin Garnett. But as a union leader, he has been the man. The NBPA knew that the previous two CBAs were far too weighted in the players favor, it was only a matter of time before the owners would demand that balance was restored. So when the NBPA moved down 4 percentage points to 53, KG had enough of the owners’ talk about sacrifice. The NBPA had sacrificed, and had gotten nothing back in return, but it wasn’t enough for the owners, they wanted more, and they started spinning bullshit out of their mouths faster than a warplane talking about how the system and the economics were out of whack.
The owners argument is basically that the star players drive the league, so the salary cap and economics should be adjusted so star players are paid their fair due, and the middle and lower class players in the NBA get the shorter and lower dollar contracts that they deserve. In one strong, unified voice, the NBPA, led by KG and Kobe, told the owners to go fuck themselves. They weren’t going to sell the middle class down the river to make a few more dollars from themselves.
The NBPA needs to make this clear. The star players are the ones holding up the deal, saying that they don’t need more money. They get money from endorsement contracts and appearance fees off the court. Their yearly salary does not need to increase. Protecting the middle class is an American story. Its one every person can identify with, and if the players make it known that the employers are trying to shut out the middle class to make the NBA’s top 1% of players richer, and the other 99% poorer, its an immediately relatable narrative. Its inexcusable that Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher aren’t on TV everyday reminding the national media about this point.
2. Make it known that the state of the national economy that has driven down league revenues has been largely precipitated by the owners themselves
I could list the ten or eleven owners that have businesses directly connected with taking advantage of the situation in Washington, D.C., paying off politicians and taking tax breaks to make themselves richer and everyone else poorer. But I only have to point to the ring-leader of the small-market band of owners threatening to blow up the NBA season: Dan fucking Gilbert. This asshole was at the center of the sub-prime mortgage debacle, handing out mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them, repackaging them, sending them overseas, and then betting against them knowing that the people that had those mortgages had no chance of paying them. This guy is a dick, and he should be public enemy number 1 from the players. If the owners are going to turn their situation into another casualty of the the Great Recession, then it should be known that the owners had a large part in the Great Recession happening. No one should get a free pass for fucking over the entire world, and certainly not an owner who is now hellbent on fucking up the entire NBA too. Billy Hunter, you have to make it known that enough is enough.