During times of labor strife, athletes should clam up. There’s next to nothing that they can say that will put themselves in a good light. On the court they are determined seekers striving to reach a goal against rugged resistance; we can all relate to that. Off the court and in particular during negotiations for new collective bargaining agreements, they are multimillionaires striving to become even richer. Empathy is in short supply on that route.
In the current NBA Lockout, I do support the players. I think the owners want some fiscal sanity returned the game, and that’s fine. All that takes is some intelligence not a series of work rules installed in a collective bargaining agreement. My poster boy for this situation is the contract Washington Wizards forward Rashard Lewis signed with Orlando a few years ago. The deal enables Lewis to make more money per year than any other NBA player except Kobe Bryant. It was utter insanity to offer Lewis such a deal both because there are at least 100 other players in the league that were more valuable than Lewis at the time of the deal (and probably 200-250 that are more valuable now), but such a deal becomes a benchmark for other negotiations. No, the owners don’t need a hard salary cap, they need a better thinking cap.
So what’s all this got to do with D-Rose, well Friday, he called the lockout the owner’s fault in comments made during a publicity appearance for Adidas.
If only that were true. The players squandered a chance to win the high road and PR battle by agreeing to the owners last offer. Had they taken the 11th hour offer with the stipulation that the new CBA last only three years, then yes, several players would find themselves a couple of million poorer but with a PR campaign that “the games matter more” or something to that extent, they could have built the name recognition that would enable NBA players to make the money back in secondary income. Also in terms of a shorter deal, if it didn’t work, then they have that as leverage when new bargaining begins.
What the owners want is to wallop the Association’s middle class, the range of marginal players, fringe starters and end of rotation guys who make between five and seven million dollars a year. It’s exactly parallel to what’s happening in American society at large where the middle class is getting clobbered by the current economic catastrophe. However, NBA players are like regular people only in the abstract that they represent on the court. In real life, they are part of the 1%, and the 1% fighting the .1% can’t engender any sympathy as the underdog, even if its true.
Both sides are going to hurt from the cancellation of games. The players miss paychecks, but many of the new owners, guys who were initially hawks in the negotiations will feel the pain too. Imagine ponying up several hundred million dollars for a property that then won’t start generating income on schedule. Their payments to the banks are going to have to come out of some other venture.
Still the owners have deeper pockets, and time is on their side. The owner’s last offer before the cancellation of games was probably the best that the players would receive and playing the waiting game is a lose-lose idea for the players.
Sure D-Rose, I blame the owners mostly, but the players get a share of my wrath too.