Occupy the NBA: Do Republicans still buy sneakers in a lockout?
“Republicans buy sneakers too.”
I spent most of yesterday trying to write about the NBA cancelling the first two weeks of the regular season. After two hours of staring at a blank screen and combing through Twitter and TrueHoop blogs, somehow the only thing I could think of to sum up my entire feelings on the lockout is this quote from Michael Jordan.
The line is corporate, it’s clean, and it comes from a man who has now been both player and owner, reminding us our causes are irrelevant so long as our devotion—and more importantly our money—remain unconditionally theirs. Sports are a business that pretends they’re not a business. And when that illusion is cast aside, people get angry. Me, I just get disheartened.
NBA players and owners are still waging a public relations battle, as if it were something anyone could win at this point. Noticeably absent from television is the NBA’s biggest public relations initiative of the past few seasons, the “NBA Cares” commercials.
There are no games to promote, and at this point NBA owners are trying to paint their players as greedy millionaires taking advantage of struggling billionaires. The absence of these commercials is a shame, because I would prefer to think of NBA owners and players as what these commercials portray: a group of individuals that realize their fortunate lot in life and have worked together to legitimately make a significant impact on the lives of the people who need it. Instead we’re left with this mess.
Because when it comes to NBA fans, in the context of this lockout, the NBA doesn’t care.
Not the owners, who would sully the reputation of the star players visiting cancer-stricken children in their commercials, ruining the image of their heroes because players refuse to concede more money than they already have due to the gross mismanagement of financial resources by front offices.
Not the players, who remember to stop in from time-to-time on Twitter to assure us they are sorry, remind us they are on our side, and they know what we are going through.
“I wanna sincerely say sorry to all fans! It’s a sad day for all of us, especially u guys! There’s no US w/o You. #Loveuguys” — @KingJames
[/pullquote]I’m sorry, but I call bullshit. I believe that the players do care for their fans to some degree, but it’s also disingenuous to act like players are on our side. To the players I would say that you’re correct when you tell the owners we just want the season to start. But make no mistake, the fans are not on your side, they’re not with you, they just want the season to start. Whoever bridges that gap will be greeted with as much of a hero’s welcome as the public can muster after this debacle.
Because as much as this has to do with those of us that buy sneakers, this has nothing to do with those of us that buy sneakers. So unless there is an offer to bring fans to the negotiating table, quit using fans as leverage in these negotiations. This lockout is about the NBA, its money, and its inability to divvy up billions of dollars in the midst of a crippling economy.
Don’t placate fans by pretending to care. The veil has been lifted, we understand, it’s a business. There are no villains, just two sides trying to look out for their best interests even if they would have already been mutually best served by not cancelling two weeks of the NBA season.
Go away. Disappear. Lock yourselves in a room and don’t show up again until you’ve fixed this. But by all means FIX this. Rest assured we will still be here when you get back, buying sneakers, overpriced tickets, and ridiculously overpriced beers. We love basketball too much.
If the NBA ever rolls out its “NBA Cares” campaign again, it will be far too soon. The NBA is a business, one that provides the highest level of the game we love and is capable of doing a lot of great things in the community that should be recognized and applauded. But to act like it cares about the fans? They’re selling something. It’s just not sneakers.