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Falling out of love with the NBA?
Confession 1: I do not care if Derek Fisher and David Stern are in bed together, or are getting legally married in NYC for that matter.
No offense to my FOXSports.com colleague Jason Whitlock, whose breakdown of their down-low lockout relationship is infinitely fascinating and a must-read for every NBA fan. My ambivalence is more about the overall machinations and calculations, by players and owners alike, over the last couple of months, which prevented The Association from kicking off another season in a timely fashion.
A writer with more noble intentions probably spends column inches whining on behalf of Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Mark Cuban, deprived of their inalienable right to bask in their highly improbable, magically delicious and long-coming NBA championship in 2011 with usual spoils. I speak only for myself, and possibly a decent number of you — the NBA fan who only marginally cares. I'm not Bill Simmons. I'm not Whitlock.
The diehards will debate the specific. I mourn the general.
This is purely selfish. I wanted to watch Jason Kidd finally see a championship banner go up, his eyes darting between that and the ring on his finger Tuesday at American Airlines Center in Dallas. I wanted to watch LeBron inevitably annoy while trying to redeem himself. I wanted to watch Lakers vs. Thunder. I actually like the regular season games. And I have come to love the sport, a passion level which is in fairly direct correlation to the season The Association just provided.
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A guy like Kevin Durant made OKC hip and cool and worth a visit. Blake Griffin did the impossible in LA: making the Clips buzzworthy. Chicago, LA, New York and Boston were all interesting, which is good for any professional sports league. Miami provided villains and, whatever I think of LeBron, every sport needs a villain. Then there was that amazing Mavs championship run.
They were a throwback — classic and instantly identifiable with better days. They were a reminder of what sports used to be, a testament to the power of team over individual, proof that the best team does not always win and the best player is not necessarily the one crowned so by Jim Gray in July.
Dirk and J-Kidd and Carlisle and Tyson Chandler brought people back to the NBA, and as a thank you for coming back we get Fisher in a suit posturing and David Stern spewing rhetoric and ad nauseum talk of BRI.
Confession 2: I had to Google BRI a couple of months ago.
I am not an idiot. I knew it had to do with ball and money. I just had it in my brain that it stood for Basketball Revenue Index. In that moment, when my search revealed Basketball Related Income, I immediately wanted to call Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. He'd find this hilarious. He lectured me once on how sports journalists make fools of themselves when talking business. It was a lecture mainly because I did not argue. His point was valid. If I were good at economics, I'd be standing alongside Warren Buffet's stair climber instead of Cuban's.
Instead, I find beauty in the complexities of Dirk's one-footed jumper.
My biggest complaint about the BRI debate is how concurrently ridiculous and futile this is. Am I wrong in thinking there is no basketball without players and therefore no related income without their contributions? Nor do I have any reason to dispute those who say no way the owners back off a 50-50 split. So we are arguing about revenue in books that are not open and in a fight that is unwinnable by the players who generate it.
Of course, I do not expect owners to operate nonprofits, nor do I expect players to take a bad deal that negatively impacts future ballers simply because journalists want games. These are businesses and businessmen. They all deserve to get paid for their skillset.
What they might be wise to realize is every dollar of basketball related income in some way comes from a fan's pocket — you know, the ones they are simultaneously ignoring and placating with intellectually dishonest arguments.
Confession 3: Hard caps are for the intellectually obese.
The throwdown over the hard cap is probably the most ridiculous position of any sports debate. Any sports team can have a hard cap at any time, it is just a matter of an owner sticking to the number they know they financially can not exceed. Tampa Bay does this exceptionally well in baseball, and wins anyway. It does not have to be legislated. Its inclusion is usually advocated by the bad owners who seek to inoculate themselves from their own stupidity — like, say, the Joe Johnson contract.
Confession 4: The plantation talk and underpaid superstar whining wins over nobody.
The concept of any compensated employee, which ultimately is what an NBA player is, being somehow akin to slavery is insulting and ignorant and historically negligent. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Uncle Tom's Cabin provide an excellent starting point on a book list for media idiots using this tact in arguments and any players stupid enough to believe them. And while not nearly as offensive, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade's comments about how woefully underpaid NBA superstars are is tone deaf.
I have a confession to make, a couple actually, as we trudge into what should have been the start of the NBA season basketball-less.
People are being crushed under the weight of this flailing economy, and any player who pleads his financial "plight" to the real people paying their salaries is cruel and slightly sorry.
Shut up. No, really, shut up.
Confession 5: The lockout now has lasted longer than the Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries marriage, which, frankly, even in death, is more interesting.
I could debate these fame whores and their sham marriage forever, whereas I find myself already over the Stern-Fisher-NBA love triangle.