No need to put your nightlights on, folks. No need to crack your bedroom door open, keep the hallway lights on, check to make sure nothing scary is in your closet, make sure your parents are nearby, or hide under your covers.
David Stern is making threats again. But they’re emptier than ever.
The big, bad wolf is huffing and puffing and he claims he might just bring the whole NBA down. He says the NBA will cancel games through Christmas if a deal is not reached by Tuesday. He says the season “is really going to potentially escape from us” if a deal is not made by Tuesday, because “we potentially spiral into situations where the worsening offers on both sides make it even harder for the parties to make a deal.”
And his threats don’t just stop at this season. If the lockout extends through the whole season, some players have reportedly testified that Stern and the NBA will hire replacement players for next year.
Yeah, that’s right. Stern’s threatening to bring in Shane Falco and company to replace Lebron James. But don’t let him fool you into thinking that’s a power move. As Chris Sheridan opines, it sounds like Stern’s getting desperate. For the first time since the labor talks began, the players have a little leverage. Commissioner Stern is cracking, folks, and his threats hold very little weight.
Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher are finally playing their cards right. Hell, maybe they had us fooled and they’ve been playing their cards right all along. The NBA owners finally need a deal as badly as the players do.
The NBA is a league run by its stars. Without Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki, fans don’t pay hundreds of dollars for tickets, they don’t buy jerseys and they don’t buy t-shirts. You don’t see very many people running around with Joey Graham jerseys, or Avery Bradley signature shoes. Bring in Scottie Reynolds, Bo McCaleb and whatever other replacement players the NBA is threatening to sign, and you think anyone would watch? People might pay five or six bucks to watch a host of former college stars compete against each other — say, Ed Cota, Trajan Langdon, Scoonie Penn, Ademola Okulaja and Toby Bailey vs. Kevin Pittsnogle, Salim Stoudamire, Mike Gansey, Gerry McNamara and the O’Bannon brothers. But would anyone shell out a hundred bucks a night, 41 games per season to watch that quality of play? There’s a reason none of those guys made it in the NBA. They just weren’t good enough.
NBA owners are no dummies — okay, maybe some of them are, but even Glen Taylor knows the state of the NBA game is golden. Teams made more revenue last year than ever before, because the league has never had more storylines or stars. Losing a season diminishes or destroys all those good vibrations. Losing a season pisses off the borderline fans and lowers ratings, which in turn decreases sponsorship money, which in turn thins owners pockets. Getting a deal done now is in everyone’s best interests.
Do NBA owners need to drastically modify the league’s economic system? Yes, they do. But the players are already willing to sacrifice at least 4% of their BRI share. They’ve proven they’re also willing to miss games, even a season, if the NBA wants to keep reaching into players pockets. If the players continue to stand their ground and the NBA owners are smart, the owners will acquiesce to the players demands and take a deal similar to the one the players are offering.
The players were always willing to negotiate. The owners haven’t been. Now we’ve reached a point where the players have stood their ground, the owners have realized winning in a bloodbath won’t be so easy after all, and it’s time to get down to business and crack out a deal. That would be the intelligent thing to do, for all parties involved.
Then again, you can’t count on the intelligent thing being done. Not with these guys.