NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 19: Theo Ratliff of the Los Angeles Lakers, a member of the National Basketball Players Association executive board, departs ongoing NBA labor negotiations at Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers on October 19, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
This is my first installment of This Week In The Lockout. It may also be my last. After all, this is Dex's baby. He started it as soon as the lockout got going, and every week he's ponied up the keyboard to give you the latest updates about the status of professional basketball in this country of ours. He'll be back next week, and as far as either of us can tell at this juncture, for all the rest of the weeks thereafter. So I may never write another TWITL again.
Somebody will. This lockout isn't going anywhere. It's a festering mass, and it's infected tendrils have dug deep within the game. The only thing that's certain anymore is that a pound of flesh will be taken when the infection finally does get cut out.
In preparation for my time filling in on this auspicious, if not particularly enjoyable, assignment, I did two things. First, I read a bunch of articles about the lockout over the past week, something I rarely do. I usually ignore the lockout like I ignore a sink of dishes needing to be washed, and for the same reasons. I don't see the point in learning about it, because the business aspect of basketball is not a subject that tips my interest scale. All I know, all I need to know, is that the lockout is ongoing, and it will end eventually.
The second thing I did was read Dex's last entry into the series. I wanted to get a feeling for the flow of the topic, whether he inundates you with news links, delivers mostly opinions, or just uses it as another excuse for a cat video (surprise! it was option 3). Instead, what I got was depressed, because what Dex wrote about the status of the lockout last week was almost word for word what I was planning on writing this week. Aside from the revelation that actual regular season games were cancelled last week, this week's news is a virtual carbon copy. In fact, I'm making a day-by-day template that we might be able to use going forward.
Monday: The NBPA and owners resume talks to resolve the lockout.
Tuesday: Deadline passes which results in cancellation of more games
Wednesday: Someone reports that the two sides are close to agreement on a revenue split.
Thursday: The owners say HAHAHAHAHA JK and go back to the same hard line demands they've had all along
Friday: Talks break off, with no new talks scheduled
Do you know why a sequence of events like this can occur more than once? There's really only one explanation. It's because this whole charade is a game. The owners know exactly what they are doing. They are crushing souls. This two steps forward, three steps back bullshit is all part of their conniving plan.
And that plan is going to work, because the longer the lockout goes, the uglier both sides look. If there's one thing you should learn about business (and these events have absolutely nothing to do with anything but business), it's that the people in charge don't give a shit about looking ugly. The players? They need to be liked. It helps them find new teams, helps them land endorsements, helps them be who they are. It doesn't matter if you blame the owners 80% and the players 20% for this whole nonsense, the 20% damages the players far more than the 80% damages the owners.
So get used to lots and lots of "negotiations", lots and lots of progress, and lots and lots of breakdowns. All the while, this whole thing will only be solved in one of two ways: The players must either completely surrender to the owners demands or must convince the owners that their demands are so unreasonable that armageddon is possible. Armageddon is the formation of an entirely separate league. The ideas about such a league are slowly coming the surface all over the place, but nobody takes them seriously. As long as those ideas remain pipe dreams, non-threatening fantasies that owners can laugh at, we remain no closer to basketball being played. And we will be subjected to the same ridiculous negotiation tactics over and over again.
See you next week ...