Occupy the NBA: Do Republicans still buy sneakers in a lockout?

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“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.

[pullquote]

“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.

  • Guest

    Yeah!

  • Anonymous

    Soooo true, smashing article!

  • John T.

    Sorry if this was mentioned earlier, but the Austin Toros will select 2nd in the NBDL draft on Nov. 3rd.  Assuming the lockout continues into November, could Austin possibly draft Leonard or Joseph so they can practice and play in the Spurs system?

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    John, we covered some of that earlier in the summer in this post: http://www.48minutesofhell.com/kawhi-leonard-corey-joseph-spurs-toros-lockout

  • John T.

    Thanks Andrew that more than answered my question!  I think even noting the NBDL draft on my calendar is a sign this lockout needs to end already.

  • DorieStreet

    No NBA magazines on the shelf at the retail stores- the publishers knew what time it was.

    But what did I see while watching college/pro football this past weekend? Derrick Rose pushing his new sneakers and Lebron James shilling for a fast food restaurant.

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  • AS

    It would be nice if you support your opinion…may be.

  • Alan40

    Great insight.  “You can fool some of the people ……..”

  • Nathan Verney

    Weird…I wrote more than that but it must not have worked.

    I disagree on the aspect that this is not totally the owners fault. The NBA is in the midst of a lockout, which is what the owners initiated, therefore it is their fault. In other industries and workplaces, where there is a enterprise or collective bargaining agreement in place and it is due to expire and the two sides cannot come to an agreement on the terms, they usually agree to continue with the old agreement whilst negotiations continued and for the changes in wages to be backdated to the date of expiry. The NBA could have done this – they could have continued with summer league and all the rest of it whilst continuing under the old CBA and negotiating the new agreement with the union.

    Granted, the NBA works differently than most industries or workplaces in that there are specific date-centred elements that require definitive rules and it can’t just run business-as-usual and just backdate any changes in salaries or conditions. Also, the example I gave above is usually where there is a pay raise (in percentage terms, not adjusted to inflation) to be implemented with the sides disagreeing over how much that is, not where there’s expected to be wage cuts like in the NBA. However, there is still the opportunity to continue under the current agreement whilst negotiating the new one and by locking out the players, the NBA is solely responsible for this lockout (which is different to the question of responsibility for the disagreement in negotiations).

  • Bob

    They’ve been negotiating over the past two years. Maybe you can argue they weren’t negotiating hard enough.

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  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/TRXWFX4QAWEVF2IF24DHIRV37U VET03

    What’s the NBA?