In a last-ditch attempt to avoid the cancellation of regular season games, NBA owners and the players' union will meet tonight and try to find the common ground that has so far been lacking, reports Howard Beck of the New York Times.

Following NBA labor negotiations news can give a person whiplash. There is reason for hope, then talks come crashing down. The math dictates that both sides holding strong makes little sense when compared to the money that will be lost to them if games are cancelled. But there are human emotions involved here; there is pride. The same qualities we love in players when they are on our team, that they will never surrender no matter the situation, don't simply go away when they're off the court.

As CBS Sports' Ken Berger notes:

 @KBergCBS: So to sum up, if games are canceled tomorrow, it won't be due to money or common sense. It will be due to ego and stubbornness.
@KBergCBS: That is the money part, which makes sense. The psychological aspect of negotiations, sometimes, does not.

We're almost there, but it means nothing until the deal is closed, and the only way that happens is if players are able to save face. The bottom line when a deal is reached is that the owners will win big. Are they ready to take their winnings, settle now and start the season? Or will they require the players to capitulate again in this final stretch of negotiations? We can only hope that it gets done one way or another. The "everybody loses" option is far too foolish.

Update 10/9/11 3:38PM PDT: Twitter is now blowing up with #fiftyonepointfive. 51.5% is the midway point between the owners' last offer of a 50/50 basketball-related income split and the players' offer of 53/47. Our own Toon Army Sun chipped in with:

@ToonArmySun: Steve Nash & Grant Hill don't have a lot of games left in their careers. Any games lost to this lockout will be a crime. #fiftyonepointfive

Update 10/9/11 9:05PM PDT: Talks ended after six hours, and neither side said anything more than that they'll be meeting again tomorrow, which is the deadline, right?
@HowardBeckNYT: Meeting over. Stern says no comment, except that they're meeting again tomorrow afternoon


Give me basketball! (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Sure individual players are fun to watch on the court, the owners bankroll our favorite teams, the arena workers greet me with a smile and the front office staff spends all day and night trying to make my team better.

But which will I miss the most when games (at least preseason) are cancelled?

In truth, I won't really miss any of the above. Not Steve Nash, or Robert Sarver, or Lon Babby, or even Lupita the arena worker who smiles and hugs me every time I come through the tunnel to my seats. I don't know any of them personally, so how can I really miss them personally?

What I really miss is the GAME of basketball.

Not the individuals who dribble, shoot, dunk or sign the checks. I miss the sound of leather pounding hardwood, the squeak of rubber, the trill of a whistle, the 'and 1!' or 'umph!' on a contested drive to the basket.

There's nothing better than, as a potentially game-changing 3-pointer floats toward the basket, the entire crowd of 20,000 rises as one along with the ball, an anticipatory 'oooohhhh!' building like a wave on the ocean, ready to break into raucous roar when the ball drops through the net.

At that moment, who cares who put up the shot? Who cares who paid that player to wear orange and purple?

The only thing that matters is that MY player on MY home town team has the cajones to take a big shot that could change the future, and at that moment I'd probably promise my next born child to them if they'd just sink the damn thing.

I love Steve Nash because he makes the game look so pretty, so easy. I love being surprised by a pass to a suddenly open roll man, whose eyes get big as saucers when he realizes he's about to make SportsCenter.

But would I stop being a fan of the Suns if someone other than Steve Nash was passing the ball? No.

KJ was wonderful, as were Westphal, Kidd, Barkley, Chambers, Majerle, Manning, DJ... hell even Dumas, Ceballos, Miller, and most every other guy who donned the purple and orange over the years.

The only former Suns players I don't recall fondly? The ones who didn't buy into MY team 100% - like Vince Carter, for the most recent example.

But as long as a player, coach, owner or GM loved being a Phoenix Sun, I loved them back.

And that's because I'm a SUNS fan. And I want to watch MY team play basketball, no matter who dons the purple and orange. As long as they sell their souls to the Suns 100%, they have my loyalty. And as soon as they stop, so does my loyalty.

The lockout will be over soon. Rosters will churn. The 2011-12 and 2012-13 Suns will likely be a lot different.

But I don't care. Give me squeaking shoes, a bouncing ball, shrill whistles and a big-time 3-point attempt and I'll be happy man.

Play Ball!


Suns managing partner Robert Sarver has taken relentless heat from the Phoenix fan base since buying the team from Jerry Colangelo in the spring of 2004. He’s been criticized for making...

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Positive Signs The Lockout Will End Soon

When you look how far apart the two sides are now financially and consider how much money both lose once games start getting cancelled it gives you a lot of reason to be hopeful.


You'll still be spending some of your disposable income on entertainment; it just won't go to these guys.

The NBA lockout has lasted over 3 months now. No regular season games have been lost yet and it remains possible that the two sides will be able to reach agreement by Monday, the day commissioner David Stern has set to announce cancellation of regular games if no deal has been made.

Our conversation here has correctly placed blame on both sides, but there seems to be a general consensus that the real victims are the arena employees, concession stand vendors, etc: the "little guys" getting caught in the crossfire as the rich men fight for the right to stay about as wealthy as they are today. While it's true that specific jobs won't be needed during a prolonged lockout, it's not true that a local economy suffers overall, according to economists who have studied previous major sports league work stoppages and were cited in this piece by Neil deMause of Slate.com. 

The primary reason for this is simple: sports fans will spend their time and money on other activities during the absence of the NBA.

More......

Whenever a push is made to bring a professional sports team to a city, or to build a new sports venue to keep an existing one, the sales pitch often involves claims of economic growth that will be caused by the presence of the team. And it's true that the area around the venue thrives. Look at the new businesses in downtown Phoenix since USAC opened, followed by Chase Field, or the bars and restaurants that sprouted outside University of Phoenix Stadium. It seems obvious, doesn't it?

Well, not really. All that has happened is that commerce there has cannibalized commerce elsewhere. A study by Brad Humphreys and Dennis Coates used per-capita income as a measure of commercial activity and, said Humpreys, "There is no way the NBA lockout will have any significant economic consequences."

From Slate:

The economists looked at per-capita income data from metropolitan areas that were home to striking (or locked out) sports teams. They found that even when ticket sales stopped, average income in a city didn't change. At all. "Work stoppages in baseball and football have never had significant impacts on local economies," they wrote. As icing on the cake, they looked at NBA cities that had lost their teams and found the same thing: bupkis. "The departure of a franchise in any sport, particularly in basketball, has never significantly lowered real per capita personal income in a metropolitan area," Humphreys and Coates wrote.

OK, well that's just one measure used in one study. But there's more. Another study was conducted which used sales tax receipts as a measure of commerce, and it found the same thing.

The new study delivered the same results as the earlier one: When leagues shut down, sales tax receipts keep chugging along. In Miami, the disappearance of the Heat during the 1998-99 NBA lockout showed an extremely weak 0.00987 correlation with sales tax figures; the 2004-05 lockout of the Florida Panthers has an even slighter effect, at 0.00739. And almost as often, the direction of the signs ran the opposite way: The 1994-95 NHL lockout had a negative correlation of 0.00353 with sales taxes—if anything, people in Miami appeared to be spending more as a result of the Panthers being on the shelf.

One would think that businesses ceasing operations would be damaging to a local economy, but not if we dive into it a little deeper. Think of your own behavior. If you're not going to a Suns game, or watching them on TV, what are you doing? Probably using that time and money to go out to a movie or to have dinner in a restaurant, spending money on some other activity. NBA players, owners, arena workers and employees of bars around the arena are losing money, but movie theater employees, restaurant workers, etc are gaining. Your money is still going into the economy and employing people, only in different places.

In fact, if you consider how much of the money you spend at sporting events is going to such a small amount of extremely wealthy athletes and owners, one could argue that your money is better spent at small businesses like local restaurants, cafes, book stores or bars since that money is enriching a greater amount of busboys, wait staff, clerks and bartenders. And those lower-wage people are likely to spend that new-found cash more freely than a millionaire, making it more likely that the money continues flowing through the economy.

I don't intend to discount the real losses that will be incurred by arena workers and wait staff/bartenders of restaurants around USAC. But those types of jobs tend to be transitory by nature. Every sports team has an offseason and nights off. An extended lockout will magnify this, but the overall demand for many of those types of jobs won't decline, and the demand for other such jobs will increase in other parts of town.

All I ask is that if you see a poor NBA blogger, down on his luck due to the lockout, on the sidewalk with a "will write for food" sign, help a brother out and drop a quarter in his empty coffee cup.


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