We’re living in a country—né, a world—facing distinct challenges. Confronted with the threat of significant economic decline, America has tough choices to make, namely: Where are we headed? And to get us there, who’s going to feel the pain?
In the face of such potentially seismic shifts in American society, both democrats and Republicans have failed repeatedly and spectacularly in rising to the occasion. Both are intransigent, refusing to bow to wills of popular opinion.
Sounds kind of like the NBA’s labor dispute, doesn’t it?
And just like those goons in Congress, I couldn’t be more dissatisfied with all sides of the NBA’s lockout mess. Like the threats of government shutdown, players and owners alike look prepared to deploy the nuclear option.
But the NBA’s clash is ever more dubious than that of Congress. The league is not coming to grips with mass unemployment, health care, social security and a lack of fundamental belief in the American Dream—they’re fighting about how to split billions. In today’s economic climate, such squabbles are a slap to the face of all NBA fans.
I understand there are layers of nuance in renewing the league’s collective bargaining agreement. The decisions made will shape the game for years to come. But in the big picture, owners and players alike appear unsympathetic, not unlike tax-mad Republicans: the rich must not be asked to sacrifice!
It makes me ill. Worse so when I’m reminded how the recently-announced cancellation of the pre-season will immanently harm workers wholly removed larger dispute. All the folks that staff the Rose Garden are already starting to lose paychecks. Canceling the entire season would mean the loss of hundreds of jobs in Portland alone, not to mention an overall hit of $3 million to the city’s coffers. Just ridiculous.
Now jump with me, quickly, to New York.
I was there last week and met an old friend for lunch. She works for a financial firm in midtown with a beautiful view of Central Park. It’s a hedge fund of sorts, but they also lend. A lot of their lending clients are NBA players, she told me me, who regularly took short-term cash advances at rates of 20%. Twenty-percent! Just dumping money down the drain.
And they’re worried about a pay cut.
Owners are just as pitiless. Claiming the league’s revenue model is broken and giving Rashard Lewis $110 million for six years like driving a car into a wall and blaming the warranty. It’s no one’s fault but their own.
(And suddenly Brandon Roy’s max deal comes to mind, offered with shaky knees and all.)
My disgust is compounded by the NFL’s getting their act together in time to salvage a respectable season. To be sure, football’s economic footing is statue-eque. Their problems were dividing a growing pie, not one that’s shrinking. Nonetheless, it makes the NBA’s stalemate appear all the more disheartening. Didn’t everyone read Moneyball?
With the whole situation simply festering, I can hardly bring myself to think about basketball. When I do, I just seem to slump, stewing with despair. It’s why updates have been so few and far between—there’s just no inspiration. They’ve sucked it out of me. I assume most of you Blazer fans feel the same way: that basketball isn’t on the radar like it’s supposed to be this time of year.
But going forward I want everyone to know: when the season resumes, so will PRS. We are beaten, but far from broke. All the coverage and zeal of years passed will as soon as the first whistle is blown and the jump ball is tossed.
But until that day, I’ll be thumbing my nose in protest. hoping for the league—and country—I love to rise above the muck.