"When you're in professional sports sometimes, you get the impression that more people care than (they) really do...And you better be careful, because there are other things people can do with their income. ... Right now, I don't hear anyone talking about the NBA at all, except for the diehards."
-Jeff Van Gundy
Does the man have the pulse of the fans? I think so. And as a writer for a pretty popular Phoenix Suns blog, I can tell you, most of us don't care about the meager results of lockout negotiations. While David Stern uttered his typical threats of the apocalypse, a poll of we Brightsiders believed that those words of foreboding meant very little. So here is what he said of the weekend negotiations:
"We're not near anything, but we're closer than we were before."
Said "Carrot Top" Bonner, part of the executive committee of the NBAPA and still of the Spurs:
[there were] "some closing of gaps, but remember how large gaps were to begin with."
There's your update. For details, check this out.
But back to you and I and every other NBA fan...
The numbers are as clear as the comments on this site. Most of us don't care about the details and blah blah blah back and forth. We want basketball. We want trades and and free agent signings and a quality squad to go crazy for. And we don't care about soft and hard caps right now.
The lockout is about millionaires and billionaires fighting over their money, which in the end, is our money. We love the game and some of the players, but let's be honest here, we cannot relate to either side-most of us middle class people who are barely holding on to our jobs and paying our bills. This fight has little to do with us in reality.
Nevertheless, we are the ones who suffer, as are the arena workers and popcorn stand vendors and the Suns dancers and those guys and gals that toss T-shirts up to us when we eventually get to a game or two. Bitter? We have every right to be.
Do you get pissed when certain politicians yield to the upper 1% of Americans and cut them tax breaks?
To the point, we cover the lockout because it is our job as blogging journalists. Anything but total coverage is slighting our audience. But another rich guy, Van Gundy, spoke words that ring true: we are sports fans, and we have options. Your favorite NFL squad still has a chance to make the playoffs, and we Arizonans have a squad to root for in the MLB postseason. Sure there will be a void if the NBA doesn't get it's act together, but guess what, they're slitting their own throats with the continued squabbling. Most of us will come back when it ends, be it two weeks or 20, yet some of us won't.
But just maybe the worst thing for Stern and Silver and Sarver and the players could be those die hards-season ticket holders and jersey purchasers and game watchers on TV may just decide to go casual. Read books, watch a movie, spend time with our family, and miss a game or 4 or 5 when this derangement ends.
Maybe apathy is worse than anger.
As a habitual antagonist, when people tell me I have to do something immediately, I usually get to it when I feel like it. Just to show 'em.
Of course when it means money, perhaps I put aside my pride and do what it takes to fill my pockets.
This weekend the old boys and the younger boys plan to get back together in what David Stern says are vital meetings, with "enormous consequences at play here on the basis of the weekend." And perhaps it's true. Stern also recently stated, "the calendar is not our friend." Derek Fisher adds a more believable slant on the situation:
"It points to the realities that we face with our calendar and that if we can't find a way to get some common ground really, really soon, then the time of starting the regular season at its scheduled date is going to be in jeopardy big-time."
Perhaps it was a foregone conclusion that the NBA would lose a chunk of the season, and perhaps if they are united with such reality, that this weekend is more important to Stern and the owners than it is for the players.
Nah, I don't really believe that either.
Said an anonymous owner:
"Stern's going to make a real hard push to get a deal this weekend. If the union makes a slight move, David will move....But the players have to blink first."
What does this spell for union chief Billy Hunter? Perhaps a small victory, a season, his players paid. The agents will be pissed, but who really gives a crap about what they think? They've been pining to de-certify the union all Summer.
Will the players "blink?" I don't see why not. Hunter has nowhere to go, no power in this situation. He resembles a tired, graying man, a politician whose suffered the slings and arrows of two sets of ravenous vultures. My guess is he's cashed in his 401k and purchased a small cabin in the woods where he can write poetry and swig moonshine on a porch. Any kind of peace is better than being stuck in the middle of a bunch of angry millionaires who WANT THEIR FREAKIN' MONEY.
The threats of marquee players going abroad to play didn't work. The angry discourse did little. As much as we all dislike Stern and ownership, they've won. The question is how much are they willing to give Hunter and the players so they can walk away with a modicum of success.