All summer long we heard about the NFL lockout, and how there might be no football this season and blah blah blah. Guess what, there was football. The worst thing that happened was a slightly shortened and rushed pre-season (coincidentally, about a million guys have had season ending injuries already, but I digress). Anyway, the point is that I can’t get myself too fired up about this NBA lockout because the NFL lockout and subsequent speedy resolution has left me pretty desensitized to all of these millionaires grand standing, filibustering, and otherwise crying about stupid things that don’t affect us as fans. Secondly, I actually think this lockout has potential to help the league in the long run.
I won’t really care about basketball being gone until February comes and we’re left only with Hockey to fulfill our thirst for competition (sorry Hockeygirl). In my book, that gives the NBA four months to get this thing figured out. In the meantime we have baseball playoffs and the entire football season to entertain us. Here’s an interesting twist though. Could the lockout be good for the NBA? The dangerous consequences for any lockout obviously still apply to this one. Money will be lost, true NBA fans will be angry and the sport may not recover for a while, but is that really a huge deal? There was a lockout, as we know, in 1998. The NBA season was limited to 50 games. The Knicks and the Spurs met in the NBA Finals, with the Spurs taking home the championship. The next year, everything was fine. Basketball didn’t really suffer, not like baseball did after the 1994 players strike, anyway.
I think it’s going to be really neat if the season does get delayed, and NBA super stars like Kobe Bryant really do go play in Europe, Asia, or wherever else they decide to go. Basketball is a game that is growing in popularity all around the world. The NBA has really become a global league thanks to players like Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki, Manu Ginóbili and others. For years and years the NBA has absorbed the world’s talent and fans and given nothing back. Why shouldn’t the world get a little payback?
How great would it be to turn on Sports Center and watch Kobe hit a three pointer over Paul Pierce in the Italian league? Or see Dwight Howard dunk all over some stiff, seven foot Iranian? These are hypothetical, of course (except for Kobe, it looks like he’s going to Italy for sure), but I feel that having their players spend a year overseas will do even more for the game than bringing in foreign players did. European and Asian fans love the NBA. What an exciting treat it would be for them to get to see the stars whose jerseys they wear live and in person? Giving those fans a chance to see their favorite American players would immensely help the popularity of the game. On top of that, NBA players who move to Europe could help their NBA teams scout and recruit even more foreign players. Imagine Kobe coming back to the Lakers with reports on a new undiscovered three-point bomber, or coming back with negative reports about a previously over-hyped player.
Once this lockout gets resolved (it will at some point, don’t worry), the league will recover. Fans are more inclined to return to watching a game when the owners lock the players out, rather than when the players strike. We pay to see the players. When they’re not allowed to play (even though they are as big a part of the negotiations as the owners and just as much to blame), we get more excited when they come back to the court. Attendance might suffer for a while, but it will be back up by next season, and the expanded global audience will eventually help make up for the loss of money that comes from any games missed. I say let them strike, send all of our stars to Europe, Asia and any other market the league hopes to expand in, and then bring the league back in January for a nice playoff ratings push.
Stern image courtesy of: http://www.boston.com
Howard image courtesy of: http://solecollector.com
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