On July 1, 2011 I woke up in a cold sweat. The NBA and its players failed to reach a labor agreement. No country for professional (men’s) basketball fans. If September rolls around and there’s no NBA training camp…I can’t even imagine. Though it hurts my little heart to say it, the NBA is much more likely to miss a season than the NFL. I will also say that the NBA has much more to lose than the NFL if they don’t settle this labor issue and return to play as scheduled.
The NBA’s owners are unlikely to budge. They are, unlike their NFL counterparts, actually losing money. Sure, this is their fault. They dug a huge hole with astronomical contracts and new arenas, jumped in, and buried themselves in luxury taxes. Unfortunately for them, they’ve paid the players so much money since the last CBA that these guys aren’t strapped for cash and are more likely to dig in their heels and fight for what they feel they deserve.
Also unfortunate for the owners is the fact that dragging this battle out will cost them more than lost ticket sales and other forms of revenue, what this will do is further demonize the players whose reputations are shaky at best, degrade the League’s image which it has worked so diligently to rebuild since the last lockout, and further disenchant fans who can hardly afford to attend NBA games to start.
Good news for hockey: if there is no basketball to be watched, the casual fan might be charmed into arenas for other sporting events.
Bad news for people like me who will be curled up with the 2001 NBA Playoffs all summer, waiting for the NBA and its players to figure it out lest I slip into a hockey-induced coma this winter.