I’m not much of a fan of basketball, so it hasn’t exactly bothered me that yet another league comprised of millionaire employees and billionaire owners couldn’t figure out how to share income in order to make even more money for everyone involved. Still, I’ll be happier to hear game highlights on ESPN rather than stupid, hyperbolic allusions to “nuclear winter” and breathless updates on negotiations, now that the NBA has finally ended its lockout:
“We’ve reached a tentative understanding that is subject to a variety of approvals but we’re optimistic that will all come to pass and that the NBA season will begin on Dec. 25,” Stern said at a news conference at about 3:30 a.m. ET Saturday.
There were plans for a 66-game regular season that would last until the final week of April, about a week longer than usual. The NBA Finals could potentially end in late June.
A majority of the NBA’s 450 players will have to agree on the new collective-bargaining agreement in a vote, as will a majority of the league’s 29 owners. A 30th team, New Orleans, is owned by the NBA and will vote in favor of ratification.
“We’re confident that once we present it [to players], that they will support it,” Billy Hunter, executive director of the disbanded players’ union, said after emerging from the 15-hour negotiating session.
It was just two weeks ago that NBA commissioner David Stern called the rejection of an offer by the players’ union the start of “nuclear winter”:
After months of on-and-off negotiations, the players union rejected the league’s latest contract offer and announced it would disband the union and file an antitrust suit against the league.
“We’re about to go into the nuclear winter of the NBA,” league Commissioner David Stern said in a television interview. “It looks like the 2011-12 season is really in jeopardy.”
Anyone who describes a labor standoff in the entertainment industry as a “nuclear winter” needs a big dose of perspective. In fact, everyone involved needed to get over themselves — and the same is true in the NFL, MLB, and NHL. The only people who have to deal with hardship are those who have regular jobs that support the games, at stadiums and local businesses. Fans can find other ways to spend their money, and the players and owners have received more money in a year than almost every one of their fans will see in a lifetime.
And so like the NFL, the NBA has now returned to restart the revenue stream, which will almost certainly mean higher prices for fans. Good for them both, but don’t expect any of us to be impressed. We may love the game, but we’re getting pretty jaded about the people associated with them, and we’re less likely to pay for the privilege of watching millionaires play games in the back yards of billionaires.