I almost felt sympathetic toward Reggie Jackson. The NBA lockout has robbed his income. He drives a rental car. Lives in a modest apartment. Searches to spend “the lowest expense that he can,” because right now, a loan that consists of “a small amount that only keeps him afloat” is his only source of spending money.
And then I remembered that Jackson, the 24th pick of the Oklahoma City Thunder, will make millions of dollars to play basketball as soon as the lockout is lifted.
Millionaires are fighting billionaires because both sides feel mistreated. When I think about that with perspective, it makes me puke until I dry heave, then dry heave until my stomach convulses.
When my stomach finally starts to feel better, I want to side with the players because fiscally irresponsible owners are blaming players for their own mistakes. The owners will spend $55 million on Brendan Haywood and $35 million on Travis Outlaw, then ask the entire league for pay cuts. It just doesn’t make sense. Especially not when I see firsthand how much money NBA teams waste — spend time in a home team’s NBA locker room, and you’ll see a postgame dinner spread for champions, and perhaps two players will eat from it. The rest of the food, I would guess, is wasted, thrown away, evaporated to the land of sunk costs. How much more money do teams spend extraneously, on extra pairs of socks, or cheerleader squads, or gift kits for media members, or by printing out media booklets during the internet era, or on light shows before the game, or t-shirts that sit forgotten in an assistant coach’s bottom drawer until a Celtics Town blogger moves the assistant coach’s furniture and spots them (true story)?
Asking players for a ten-year pay freeze is ridiculous. So is proposing an $11 million maximum contract, when some projections have estimated that Lebron James is actually worth $54.4 million per season. So is blaming player salaries for the league’s financial troubles, when NBA revenues increased this year and the player salaries have been set at 57% of revenues since the recently expired Collective Bargaining Agreement began. So is saying that NBA teams lost a combined $340 million this season when those calculations don’t include revenues indirectly related to the team — for example, the Celtics negotiated a 20% ownership stake in Comcast Sports Network New England. When that deal begins in 2017, none of the resulting money will be accounted for in the Celtics’ financial statements.
Then again, the players don’t have much to complain about, either. Maximum salaries capped at $11 million? Might as well put NBA superstars on food stamps. Minimum salaries at $1.4 million? That’s not even enough to feed one of Latrell Sprewell’s children. A collective $2 billion pay minimum? The players will all be on welfare.
I want to root for the players because I see the injustice of what the owners are trying to accomplish. Then I read about Reggie Jackson, made out to be a sympathetic figure (he needed to take out a loan, people! he drives a normal car! he lives in a modest apartment!), who has millions of dollars waiting for him whenever a group of millionaires and billionaires decide to stop being greedy.
Some people have real problems.