Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hoping for a Lockout?

Following the last Triumphant Run by Michael, Scottie, Phil, and The Bulls, the NBA went immediately into a lockout. It was actually a temporary reprieve for Bulls fans, not having to watch the Bulls flounder immediately following the departure of their 3 Hall of Famers. A short lockout shortened season was just what the doctor ordered. I saw the good in the lockout back in 1998, and I, the eternal pessimist, actually see more positives in the looming NBA lockout.

For those of you who don't read ESPN's Bill Simmons, or haven't read his latest column about the impending lockout, please take a moment and swing by the Sports Guy here.

As Simmons points out, with the economic troubles and the rising cost of player contracts, a lockout sits, like the elephant in the room, on the not so distant horizon. According to Simmons, and many others in the know, a lockout is due for the 2011 season following the end of the CBA, the Collective Bargaining Agreement, not the league up North that Isiah shut down. The owners know, based on the previous lockout as well as NBA players penchant for spending, that the players are going to break first. And Stern is fine with that. What could possibly be good about losing 1, 2, or more seasons of one of the major sports.

Well here are the Top 4 good things that can come of such a disaster:

5. Player Contracts:
These players are making too much money. You hear it screamed from every soapbox and mountain top across the country. We'll see any combination of things that will make it tougher to sign players like Vlad Radmanovic to ridiculous contracts. Did you know he was making over $6 Mill this year?

4. Showcasing Young Talent:
Football may be my favorite sport, to follow, but my favorite sport to attend is baseball. There are many reasons but a couple of the top reasons are minor league call-ups and Spring Training. Sure, during Spring Training, and the rest of the season for that matter, you've got multi-millionaires who pull up before reaching first on a fly, guys playing the bounce instead of laying out. Essentially, there are a whole lot of Roger Dorns out there. But when those youngsters come in, they know they have an uphill battle. The lay out for everything, sacrifice the body on every play, and run out a grounder to short every time.

Basketball has the D-League, and there's a lot of young talent in the D-League that nobody knows about. I'm not saying that the NBA isn't marketing them enough, or correctly, because Stern already has his money wrapped up in expansion plans and the WNBA, but the NBADL is there. When that lockout happens, this time there's the D-League. It will give the fans something to watch, and Stern will definitely showcase it. It will provide "scab" players to fill the rosters, if necessary. Now I could be wrong about this, and if so I apologize, since many of the players, if not all, are tied to NBA teams, they might be affected by the lockout as well. If that's the case than just make this a Top 3, skip this one, and call me an idiot. I don't mind.

3. Better College Basketball
Look back at the NCAA Tournaments of the past. The game used to be so much better before the age rule allowed for the one and done players. Then when the age limit went up, we got to see amazing athletes playing in the Tournament, and while the Tournaments lost a little something, the product was that much better. Why not get both?

With a lockout there won't be a need for these one-and-doners to jump to the NBA, because there won't be an NBA. Some might test the waters in Europe, some might jump on in the D-League (if that's a possibility), but others might just choose to stick around another year or two. I have firmly entrenched myself in the belief that College Football and Basketball are better and more entertaining than their Professional Counterparts, so for me, better College Basketball, at least for a year or two, is a good thing.

2. Better NBA Product - For the Fans
Players in the NBA, for the most part, look out for themselves first and team and fans take a distant 2nd and 3rd respectively. Need proof, Elton Brand, Summer of '08. Ask Baron Davis about his old buddy EB, but make sure the knife-wound in his back isn't still fresh. I'm not saying that all of the evils of the current NBA will go away, but with stricter controls on contracts, salary caps, opt out clauses, etc, players will be more likely to stick around, and teams will be able to build without taking on expiring contracts and overpaying Larry Hughes. The Trade Deadline will matter again.

1. Better College Basketball
It's no secret that Stern wants to add on to his age requirement ruling and make one and done guys become two and done guys, and a new CBA would be the perfect place to do so. Again, this is very beneficial to the College Basketball fans out there, namely me. Not only will we get better talent in the NCAA game for an extra year, but those players won't be just trying to make themselves a lottery pick. Those guys will have an extra year in a system, making the team around them better. What Arizona fan doesn't wish that Jerryd was still in Tucson, find a USC fan that doesn't miss Mayo, who among the UCLA faithful wouldn't mind another season with Kevin Love, Texas - Durant, Ohio State - Oden and Conley, the list goes on and you know it.


herr_mask said...

Who are making money - the players or the owners? Do you think any player in the league has a higher annual salary than the income of any owner? Or the income of David Stern? It's the players and the staff who are making the game what it is. Rather than hope for a lockout, why don't you turn the franchises into non-profit societies so that the income can be invested in the game instead of going into the pockets of the owners?