Love professional basketball. So I don’t cheer the suspension of it–not in the abstract. The thought of a hoopsless year is an injection of Liquid Plumbr to my spleen via the longest hypodermic.But ever so strangely, I love that the players sent an ominous disclaimer of interest, a letter that has us gnawing three-eyed rats in the post apocalyptic NBA nuclear winter (Party at my dung shanty, bring your own lizard jerky!). Much to my chagrin, I cheer a decision that rejects playing now in favor of possibly playing a year from now. So what gives? Am I a crazy person, prone to decertifying my own wants? Do I often gargle sand when thirsty?
It’s just that my love of basketball causes me to root for the sport itself, causes me to root against an owner proposal that would prevent America’s greatest game from claiming its rightful throne. If this player ploy can possibly stave off harmful changes to the NBA, I’m all for prolonging the nothing. Though “We want games now!” has discourse primacy over “But how will this change the league?,” I reject that pecking order. A lost year hurts, but a lost league can sap enthusiasm far into the horizon.
Specifically, I object to this: “Annual raises. The NBA proposed 6.5% for players with Bird rights — allowing a club to sign its free agents for more money and for more years than other clubs — and 3.5% for others, down from 10.5% and 8% in the last CBA but up from the offer on the table Wednesday.”
“Also, contract options will be banned for the highest-paid players (unless they agree to a nonguaranteed final year), further eroding their leverage.”
The deal includes a 12% reduction in the already absurdly low rookie wage scale and a probable raising of the immoral age limit. But I’ll focus on player movement for now.
Proposed reforms are geared towards preventing a repeat of the 2010 free agent bonanza that sparked so much interest from fans (the horror!). The financial hit for spurning a Gilbert will be prohibitively immense going forward. These new rules aim to be the quicksand that snares a superstar–which is peachy if you’re a bad owner in a small market.
But for fans? Well, the trade deadline should lose some verve. Same goes for the recently thrilling free agent Summer break. No more soccer-esque “transfer season” excitement for hoops.
Though some bemoan the inchoate era of superstar agency, it’s been…interesting. “Who goes where?” is a constant source of Internet fodder, an endless supply of intrigue. Recent player movement has rejuvenated a league so bizarrely wedded to the idea of superstar settling. I’ve never quite understood David Stern’s obsession with housecatting elite players. So Reggie Miller played two decades in humble Indy. So what? Does the league want a cookie for that? Because Reggie’s long tenure sure didn’t ensure the NBA’s continued local popularity.
Were you inspired by KG’s Minnesota futility? Does a mired Chris Paul bring a smile to your ears? Does your heart flutter at the thought of Blake Griffin piling up losses for a sneering Donald Sterling?
I would hazard that it’s depressing to watch a star toil in ruin. Codify these owner-proposed reforms into league law, and risk an era of moping talent, playing for no stakes, before few fans, in perpetuity. Does this sound like a net-positive for the NBA? While many shudder at the thought of players racing for greener pastures, I prefer a league where the best guys a) Play for winners and/or b) Play where the people live.
To the small marketeers, I say: If you build it, they will stay. Tim Duncan had little reason to leave San Antonio, and Kevin Durant likely won’t ditch OKC for a better nightlife. Loyalty is the reward for good stewardship.
This CBA proposal seems devoted to protecting the dumbest owner rather than rewarding the smartest one, and the emphasis on insulating every owner from risk equals a bad risk for their league. Basketball is weighed down by leaden training wheels unless the players can garner a different deal.
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