Here at SBNation, we're tired. Tired of the disingenuous rhetoric coming from David Stern. Tired of the bravado coming from the players. Tired of hearing about BRI and decertification, and about not talking about basketball. And tired about not being heard.
This is your chance to fix one of those.
Around the SBNation community, we're using this day to get our voices heard. This post here will have Jordan, Mike, Tanner, and myself vent, but we encourage you to submit FanPosts. We'll try to front page a couple of them in the coming days. This is your chance to be heard.
It doesn't matter what your perspective is. Think the players are right, think the owners are right, don't care. Just upset you don't have basketball? Send it in. Let us know how the NBA lockout has affected you. Think of it as free floating hostility. Let it out. Perhaps the collective community will be heard, or perhaps it will just be therapeutic venting.
If you go the twitter route, tag it with the hashtag #NBAFanVoice. If you see something around the web, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll link to them.
After the jump, the LB crew rants.
I'm sick of hearing "in good faith". Neither of you two groups of overpaid clowns are negotiating "in good faith", and you're certainly not communicating to the media and your paying customers "in good faith". "In good faith" has gone right up there in my "things I never want to hear again" category alongside "basketball sense".
I don't want to hear about a fair deal. Charles Barkley made $2.4 million during his MVP year. If you adjust that for inflation, that comes out to $3.7 million today, which is considerably less than the mid-level salary today. The earning landscape for basketball players is as good as it's ever been, despite struggling financial times for the majority of the sports clients. You're not arguing for a fair deal. You're arguing for the most money possible. Hey, that's the American dream, but stop trying to spin it to the fans that 53% is fair, but 50% is an atrocity. You have all gotten enormously wealthy since the 1998-1999 CBA. You're going to continue to get enormously wealthy.
And owners, stop. Just stop. Yes, some teams may have struggled to turn a profit this past few years, but let's not go out and donate our pennies to them. The value in owning a franchise has never been about year to year finances but about the appreciation of the value of the assets. Just look at the Sixers. Bought in 1996 for $130 million, haven't turned a profit the past 2 years, now worth $330 million, according to Forbes. Again, even adjusting for inflation, that's a profit of $150+ million. I'm not losing sleep over whether Ed Snider can put food on his table.
Rather than worrying about 3% of the BRI, worry about your customers. At 53% of the BRI, the mid-level salary for 2009-2010 would have been around $5.265 million. At 50% of the BRI, that would have dropped to approximately $4.97 million. But what if Basketball Related Income drops? BRI has seen a steady increase over the years, from $3.174 billion in 2005-2006 to $3.643 billion in 2009-2010, even through troubling financial times. What if that's not the case anymore, and BRI stays stagnant, or worse, drops? A mere $200 million drop in BRI lowers that mid-level salary to $4.97 million at 53% of the BRI. Even "winning" and getting your prized 53% number doesn't win if it hurts your product.
In the end, players will make a bunch of money. Owners will make even more money. That's a virtual guarantee, don't let the rhetoric from either side fool you. Neither of these sides are getting an unfair deal, they're trying to maximize their wealth, and they're willing to do so at your expense. Who has no chance of winning? The fans. The ones truly getting screwed from this process are the only ones not Maserati dreaming.
Neither the players nor the owners are treating the fans "in good faith".
Here are a few of my solutions to the lack of parity and competitive balance in the NBA.
1. Only four teams make the playoffs in both conferences: Realistically there are only four-five teams who can win a championship every given year, so why are we sending 16 teams to the playoffs, outside of tv revenue? Sending only four teams per conference would make the regular season more relevant, and the playoffs less dragged-out and more exciting. It would also eliminate most of the false hope of "Hey, we were a playoff team! Let's sign Drew Gooden for 100 mill to get us over the hump!" owners, teams and fanbases experience from year-to-year.
2. In addition to the eight-team playoff for the championship, conduct an eight-team playoff for the most lottery balls in the draft lottery. This would make up for some of the lost revenue of a shortened playoffs, decrease the chances of every team tanking, hold fans' interest of most of the non-title-contending teams, and give the deathly mediocre teams a legit chance of improving year-to-year, rather than remaining forever mediocre.
3. Add two rounds to the draft, assign every NBA team a D-League affiliate and promote player development. This is kinda the baseball approach of smart spending and developing talent rather than blowing millions of dollars on bad contracts every year. Teams should also be able to sign international prospects for their D-League affiliate, much like baseball. Teams who spend most on scouting and player development will acquire the best international prospects. How different could high school busts like Sebastian Telfair, Kwame Brown and Gerald Green's careers could have gone if they were properly developed and nurtured instead of thrown into the grind of an NBA season?
I'm not going to talk about the Phillies losing or the Eagles being terrible or my lack of interest in hockey. I'm not going to rant about who is at fault (owners) or who stands to lose the most (everyone). And I'm sure as hell not going to discuss what state the NBA will be in if and when basketball does resume (Iowa).
I miss the basketball community. I miss going on Twitter to find people complaining about the refs. I miss watching Lou Williams' usage rate climb more than the national debt (Occupy BOSS). I miss writing about anything related to basketball. I miss potential trades and waiting for contracts to expire and overvaluing young players. I miss rooting for losses until the last few minutes when I can't help but pray for a win. I miss postponing sleep so I can drunkread the entire comment thread after a Saturday night game where we lost by 35. I miss posting pictures of Robert Pattinson and Booker T. And I miss a whole lot of other things that are making us all cry.
Basketball should come back if for no other reason than it has to. Otherwise we wouldn't be friends. And we are friends. Right? Player and Owners, resolve something so we can hang out again. I truly do not care about how the revenue is split. I'm not getting any of that money. Come to an agreement, play basketball.
Initially when I found out the first two weeks of the season were cancelled, I took the selfish approach and became disheartened that I wouldn't get to watch a full 82 game schedule. I found myself becoming upset with both sides of the issue. I was furious at the owners and David Stern for not only barring any fans from seeing basketball because of their own stupidity from outrageous contracts, but mostly for saying they did all they could to get a deal done. From reports I read (I read at least 2), the owners' original offers were so egregious that them saying they made sacrifices would be like expecting to land a 10 at the bar, taking home an 8.5, and saying you had to settle for her. By offering a fabricated apology to the NBA fans, it felt more insulting that they couldn't just say the truth; the fans' opinions don't factor in to a decision at all.
So I sat in the corner of my apartment wearing nothing my oversized Thaddeus Young jersey, holding my old Allen Iverson away jersey, and caressing the life size Tony Battie doll given to me by Mike for Arbor Day while drowning in the sorrow that all NBA fans felt that night. When I thought about it more, I realized how much a disservice both the players and owners were doing to the newest or soon to be fans of the league.
It brought me back to the time that I fell in love with the NBA. I was around 4 years old, rocking the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed underwear and Goofy hat from Disneyworld (I only assume I wore those on a daily basis), and ready to attend my first professional basketball game. The Sixers were at home against their not-so-much conference rivals, the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Sixers weren't exactly the top team in the East that year so needless to say, the crowd size was minimal at best. My dad took me down towards the court when the teams were warming up, and I had nothing but a smile on my face. From what my dad tells me, then Sixer Tim Perry noticed some strange happy kid and threw him a wave, making his night (OH MY GOODNESS THAT KID WAS ME!!!!).
Shockingly enough, the Sixers were victorious that night, getting a clutch three pointer from center Manute Bol to seal the deal. I remember that after that game I wanted to watch every single Sixers game. I became infatuated with the NBA, and I never looked back.
And with the lockout happening, I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if a work stoppage wiped out my first trip a game. Would I have ever fell in love with the game? Would I ever get to say I saw Manute Bol drill a game winning 3? I'd like to think I would have still discovered the sport, but who knows?
Because of the lockout some little annoying kid, much like I was in the early 90s, might miss his chance at discovering how beautiful a game the NBA is. So Stern and the owners can "apologize" all they want to the existing fans (that might not be around when the sport comes back), but what they don't realize is that this could cause a young sports fan to never fall in love with basketball because their first memories of the NBA will be that it didn't exist.