"Totally coup, yo."

Me Want Basketball

Sep

26

by

Down with worker rights!

The NBA season is supposed to start in five weeks, and I can’t take this shit anymore. The lockout started three months ago, and both sides persist in not getting anything done, and caring more about looking the good guys than whether or not anything actually gets done. It’s becoming very clear to me that neither side really cares if the season starts on time, and as someone who really enjoys watching muscular black men dribble on wood and put balls through holes, that really gets on my nerves.

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The Orlando Magic backup squad

What’s really bugged me through all this all the needless posturing. The best example of this is union rep Billy Hunter, who recently said he doesn’t think there’s even going to be a season. That’s great, Billy! Take the bastards down! Go a whole decade if you want to! Who cares if there’s if there’s an entire class of rookies who might waste away for a year, or if there’s people who might actually enjoy watching basketball. It’s all about sticking it to the fucking man! You know…even if the people you’re representing are almost all in the top 1% of earners.

Don’t get me wrong, the owners are much worse. If liberalism 101 has taught us anything, it’s that the richer whiter people are always the bigger assholes. And sure enough, the NBA owners have quite few true cocksuckers in their ranks. The biggest being the Clippers’ Donald Sterling, who is less of a human being, and more of nightmarish Spike Lee fantasy of what white people are like. He’s been accused of housing discrimination, and even heckles his own players on the court (in his defense, Baron Davis really was underachieving), so yeah, fuck that guy.

And don’t forget the Cavs Dan Gilbert. He had the easiest task in America — insult a man everyone already hates (in this case, Lebron James) — and he somehow managed to fuck it up. His angry petulant comic sans rant against Lebron came off less like an owner inspiring his fans in a dark time, and more like a spoiled, whiny child who has sad because his parents took away his favorite toy. So, it’s not like the owners are likeable people.

Here’s the thing; this is the own situation evil, super-greedy rich, white folks may be actually right. Wait, don’t throw me in bleeding heart jail, yet — hear me out. The contracts that these players get are fucking enormous. Take the Orlando Magic’s gun-toting Twitter misogynist Gilbert Arenas, who last year received $17 million to average 8 points a game, not beat anyone off the dribble, and shoot countless missed threes, and not be good enough to lick Jameer Nelson’s jockstrap.

The reason why this happens is because contracts are guaranteed. No matter what happens to a player if he signs a deal, he gets that money. Would the Houston Rockets have thrown so much money at Yao Ming if they knew he was made of glass at the time? How about Tracy McGrady, whose legs magically turned to stone in 2009? Contracts are too long, and too much money is given out because no one knows when a player is going to be washed up, but once he gets there, he’s done for good. So if a team gives 6 years to a guy with only 3 years left, they’re going to pay for three years of crap, and that’s that.

So, I’m on the owners side in that sense. Contracts should be shorter, because the chances of one overvalued player ruining a team for the better part of a decade are just too high. Don’t get me wrong though: owners are still cocksuckers. Lying cocksuckers…because cocksucker isn’t necessarily an epithet outside of the NBA. Specifically, they have the unique ability to make losses seem a lot bigger than they actually are so that when it comes time to cry poor they have a much stronger case. Make no mistake: this is greedy-dishonest-white-assholery in its purest form.

What it comes down to is both sides are greedy, and unrealistic. That tends to happen in negotiations like this, but what really burns my cannoli is that neither side gives one flying fuck about the fans. With all the talk of cancelling the season and demanding more and more, neither side has said anything, or reached out in anyway to the people who actually care about this game. The billion dollar industry these people work in doesn’t exist without them, and yet they get no regard, no regard at all! I know being a sports fan is a largely pointless endeavor, but that never deterred me before. Being treated as so blatantly useless by the people running the show really gets under my skin. It’d be nice if either side thought of us just once.

So, one of three things will happen. There’s a small chance of both sides getting their shit together sometime within the next month. There’s a decent chance they drag it out till winter and we get a horrible, slapped together season marked by mediocre gameplay and 20-pounds-too-fat players who didn’t bother conditioning during the lockout. Finally, there’s an all-too-likely chance that both sides will continue being stubborn dicks and the fans will be screwed out of an entire season just like hockey fans were seven years ago.

My appeal to the basketball community is simple: be sensible. You made a ridiculously lucrative industry out shooting a ball into a basket. And there are tons of people who will gladly blow there hard-earned cash to support your product (including me). Considering how lucky you are to be in that position, maybe you should not fuck those foolishly loyal fans over, get your act together, and play some damn basketball!

If not, we will start watching hockey. No really, we mean it this time…okay, probably not.

  • http://www.twitter.com/DoubleGinNTonic Jon Splett

    While I too, have a very hard time summoning any sort of sympathy for millionaires, I can’t take anyone’s side in this other than the players.

    In a lot of ways, what pro sports unions have done is a really beautiful thing. It’s hard to find another industry where workers are paid such a high percentage of the profits. (And yes, I’m well aware of how the beer vendor or locker room attendant are getting comparatively fucked over but bare with me) The NBA is an extremely profitable global brand and the workers who build and promote that brand are actually receiving a fair share of the revenue they’re creating. Isn’t that how things are suppose to work? Instead of the suit pushing papers collecting all the money, the guys actually creating the product are cashing in. If more industries worked like this we’d all be better off.

    Most owners are in the business of the NBA for the tax write off. They’re crying poverty right now and that their business model is unsustainable under the current salary structure but these are rich white dudes who lie about money for a living. Don’t buy into their bullshit. Deadspin ran this piece on how teams hide losses a month or so ago and it didn’t get nearly the attention it should have in the mainstream media.

    http://deadspin.com/5816870/exclusive-how-and-why-an-nba-team-makes-a-7-million-profit-look-like-a-28-million-loss

    You rail against guaranteed contracts but realistically, they’re the one thing the union needs to stand firm on and not give up because the people who get fucked over the hardest if they go away really don’t have any other options.

    Let’s say you’re a top basketball prospect. You’ve been identified as the next big thing around age 15 and because you possess a skill set only a tiny fraction of people over the height of 6’4 have, you then dedicate every waking hour to training the same way a law student or med student or any other skilled profession does. Sure, you’ll score a college scholarship out of the deal but if you want to play in the NBA, you better be selecting a college based on how much exposure they can give you instead of academics and the only class you need to be paying attention to is practice.

    Now let’s say in that first year of college, you pull a Carmelo, blow the fuck up and lead your team to a Final Four. You’re on everyone’s radar and your draft stock couldn’t be higher. You’ve got the option to stick around college for another 3 years where you can 1) eat ramen, not get paid for dealing with ESPN following your every move and finish up that communications degree; 2) get paid from the university’s boosters, live a comfortable life and wait patiently for the vultures at ESPN to eventually find out and turn you into public enemy number 1 for having the nerve to not live in poverty or 3) enter the draft, get paid and start the career everyone’s been pushing you towards since you were a child without a degree.

    Now fast forward to training camp. You come down wrong on a rebound, tear your ACL and never play basketball again. You are completely fucked. The only thing you learned in college was how high you could stack naked girls without them toppling over.

    If we get rid of guaranteed contracts, we end up sending a bunch of guys in their mid 20′s with no education and no skills outside basketball out into the cold. Sure, they may make a million or two that first season, but after the agents, business managers and the hangers on who guided them through the process during college take their cut, they’re left with one lump sum of money to live the rest of their lives on. The money being collected on a guaranteed contract isn’t just for what the player does on the court for the team who signed him, it’s back pay from an industry that profited off him in the McDonald’s All American game, radio and TV interviews during college and the millions and millions of dollars the NCAA will continue to make off his likeness when they run footage of him cutting down the nets in a montage every March.

  • http://www.buffalobeast.com John Hugar

    I actually posted the Deadspin piece in my article, and I think it’s complete bullshit the way owners manipulate numbers like that. I point out the greed (and general douchebaggery) of the owners at numerous points. Also, I never say we should get rid of guaranteed contracts, just that a lot of the 6 year deals are too long and end up hurting the team because you have a bunch of cap space rotting away on a player whose contributions don’t match the money he’s getting. While I could give a shit about the money the owners lose, it sucks that a team can’t be competitive because one bad contract brings them down. Admittedly, sometimes teams get bailed out (like the Rockets with Yao’s contract), but more often they just have to wait it out. Basicaly, I’d keep the guaranteed contracts, but lower the max to 4 years, because I just think a lot of the 6 year deals that get made are too risky a proposition for how much they hurt cap space.

  • John Hugar

    I was kidding about hockey. Like most Buffalonians, I love the Sabres. I was more referring the thought of sports fans across the country getting into hockey without basketball.

    As far as owners go. Sterling is evil, James Dolan is a loathsome spoiled brat who thinks he can play the blues for some reason. Dan Gilbert sucks for reasons already stated. I can’t vouch for whether or not they’re ALL cocksuckers, so you’ve got me there. I guess MJ isn’t, although in his playing days he sure could be.

  • http://www.twitter.com/DoubleGinNTonic Jon Splett

    I’d say sports fanaticism has absolutely no connection to universal health care seeing how the English are taken care of by NHS after their soccer hooligan brawls and most of latin America finds the time to run socialist governments while worshiping soccer stars. If anything, I think you can make the case the rest of the world worships sports stars MORE than we do. Brett Farve’s cock was a major sports news story but it didn’t get the mainstream traction that a guy like Wayne Rooney or David Beckam gets in the British rags. TMZ just announced they were calling off plans to start sports themed tabloid site due to lack of interest. Across the pond, that shit goes above the fold in every tabloid.

    Are sports part of an entertainment culture that distracts from greater issues? Sure, but they’re hardly more distracting than video games, movies, the internet or hardcore porn. People living comfortably will always find distractions and you won’t see a culture shift in anything until people actually feel a strain on their daily lives. As long as the average American is fed, clothed and has a roof over their head, they aren’t going to take to the streets. As the poverty gap grows, we’ll probably start to see that more and more but until it reaches a critical mass, don’t expect anyone to get off the couch anytime soon.

    As for the future of the NBA, 4 year guaranteed contracts are a start but I think a hard cap is the more pressing issue. The owners dug their own graves with bad contracts and while 4 year deals will ease the pain of Tracy McGrady’s and Yao Ming’s of the world, you’ll also end up with a lot more situations where top guys bolt from small markets the first chance they get because major markets can overpay on a 4 year deal where the smaller ones can no longer backload and spread out the fiscal hit.

    In a perfect world, the players union would say to the owners, ‘We’re already rich and you offer nothing in this equation. We’re starting our own fucking league and you can suck our dicks.” When the NHL was flirting with folding a few years back, I remember some dude offering to buy the entire league out, having each team owned by the league itself and letting them draft and make trades without forcing the franchises to live and die on the economics of their market but rather the entire league as a whole. Gary Bettman shot it down before it ever got off the ground but it would have been an awesome experiment to see. In an ideal world, I’d like to see the NBA players union try and do something similar by starting fresh from the ground up with a league owned by the players with salaries paid for by profit sharing. There’s plenty of shit that would have to be worked out with that and it’s probably never going to happen, but the current business model for professional sports is seriously strained and isn’t likely to be sustainable over the next few decades.

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