Anyway, The dispute went on for many months and was about… what else? Money. The players wanted more and the owners wanted to keep more of it. But what it really came down to was this… The Association simply had to restructure their model so that the owners would stop doing stupid things like giving middle-of-the-road players, super-duper star money. That’s it!
One of the glaring problems in the NBA for many years has been the propensity of players to completely dog it after nailing down a lucrative, big dollar deal. Owners were locking these guys into big contracts that lasted, for what seemed like decades, and basically killed the team from making trades, getting other players or locking up their current free agents because one or two guys had the organization hand-cuffed with their guaranteed deals.
When the owners said they needed to change this, the players went ape-shit because they wanted to milk the money-losing system for everything it was worth. Guys who were making $100,000,000 were in grave danger of only pulling in $85,000,000; guys who made $45,000,000 were in danger of making $30,000,000; and guys who made $1,250,000 were in danger of making $1,100,000.
Everyone was quick to blame the players. “These millionaire basketball players are crying about money.” And that’s true. Most of these knuckleheads lose most of it because they have no sense of how to manage it. They figure they need to make as much as possible because they’ll blow most of it on stupid shit like building a 15 million dollar mansion in the middle of a decaying ghetto or giving it to their clingy childhood friends… all 278 of them.
But the real problem in this whole quagmire was the owners. These guys are crying poor when most of them are rich playboys who own a team strictly for fun and to stroke their own egos. NOBODY owns an NBA team for profit. Nobody. No one. Nada. Zilch. Nunca. Not ONE! Professional sports ownership is not a lucrative business and everyone who buys a team knows it. It’s a plaything as much as a sports car or a dumb model who can squeeze into a spandex dress the size of a beer cozy.
The owners were so busy out-dueling each other—trying to land guys worth a few million bucks for 15 or 20 million dollars, not so much to get them, but to not let other teams get them—that they didn’t stop to realize that they shouldn’t.
Suddenly you had albatross contracts of guys worth nothing, who got fat and lazy and bogged down organizations for almost a decade. It was horrible. The system was broken, so it needed to get fixed so the owners could stop shooting themselves in the foot. The players got mad because the cash register was being shut and they went bonkers; claiming everything from unfairness to boldfaced references to slavery. And the players had a point to some degree. Treating people as property, even multi-million dollar people, is dangerous territory to tread, and the owners stomped on and around it pretty good.
But the players never checked themselves and the good times have come to an end… to some degree. Lazy players who played for contracts, got them and then dogged it for the rest of their career, should have been ostracized by their fellow “work mates.” That kind of behavior is straight-up bullshit, and if it happened in your office, you’d be calling for the head of a fellow employee who rode the coattails of your hard work and dedication.
This has now left us with a truncated season that was sped-up through training camp, pre-season and launched in a frenzy this past Christmas day. The details of the new agreement are still a little foggy. I’m sure there’s a billion word PDF document you can download somewhere that gives you the brutal details of what it all means.
In the end, the owners won. And you know what? That’s a good thing for us basketball viewers. Shorter contracts and hard cap spending limits means that owners will be unable to lock-up players (both good and bad) for long periods. That means guys who dog it will play themselves out of the league in a few years and fresh faces and dedicated players will flourish. Turnaround could be frequent—new faces in new places all the time—but ultimately it means a better product on the floor.
But all that crap is behind us now. The season has started and my Knicks have a solid team once again. In fact, it may be one of the most talented teams they’ve put on the hard wood since the brutish Ewing-led 1993-94 team that went to the finals in ’94. Fast paced and high scoring, this Knick team will be dynamic and fun to watch.
And since I INCREDIBLY predicted last season that a Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks Finals rematch would take place, with the Mavericks winning it all, I figured I’d take a stab at another bold prediction right here in this blog post… I’m going ALL IN on the Oklahoma City Thunder to take the Western Conference and the New York Knicks to take the Eastern Conference, with the Thunder winning it all in 7 games.
See what I did there? I made my Knicks lose to make me seem more legit. But I actually believe it. This is the year that Kevin Durant takes the league by the throat and shows he’s the best player in the NBA by leaps and bounds. The Thunder have the talent, the size and the right balance of youth and experience.
So sit back and enjoy the ride. The season is going to go by like it’s on fire. The NBA has to squeeze eight months of basketball into a six-month period—If you don’t pay attention, your team could be in danger of missing the playoffs before you sit down with your light beer to watch a game. Plant yourself on the couch and watch some roundball—It’s a sprint to the finish.