Monday, 25 July 2011
Let the games begin.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Money, money, money. It's always got to be about the money. When did it stop being about the game that we all love? Money talks and also it apparently has the ability to shut things right down. As the NBA owners and players association can't come to terms like a real bad breakup money isn't playing right now and we aren't talking about M.J. The NBA like the NFL is currently locked out and no one can play ball with a Jerry West on their vest right now. It's almost like commissioner David Stern has put a Coach Carter style lock on the gym and all the fans want is to let 'em play. With this lockout lasting as long as either side is prepared to keep their arms folded when will next season start? November? December? Literally next year or season? With this lockout just how bad could things get for the NBA?
What happened to the union? It's all got so bad that even Lakers clutch hero and president of the players association Derek Fisher couldn't even save the day at the last minute, but you best believe he's still working as both sides have a point. Still instead of pointing fingers shouldn't these sides extend their hands and give in to selfish desires for the good of the L as a whole? This is not a game...literally and this may all be about money but don't the players and owners stand to lose even more green without a regular season? From losses in gate receipts to league passes we all miss out. Here's thinking it was all about the Benjamin's. Time for Diddy, Nicholson, Spike Lee and them to find another sport. Haven't we learned from the NFL or is another American sport going to drop the ball? Have we not moved on from the the 98/99 season after all that time? Now if the NBA stays locked out through the fall whoever wins next year will have that fateful, debated asterisk next to what should be a crowning achievement (San Antonio anyone?). Now you know the critics would love it if LeBron and his super Miami team won, any excuse for unreasonable doubt.
Not only do the big stars stand to lose precious zero's off a paycheck there trying to extend other so-called 'regular folks' stand to lose their jobs. From writers to the people who work in the arenas. The NBA has already trimmed 11% of his work-force but they say this severance has nothing to do with this lockout. Yeah right! Sure everyone's rights should be taken into consideration-even those making millions-but if people who are struggling to make ends meet are losing their jobs and livelihood then that's just wrong, plain and simple. So why is it all so complicated? A writer will always try and think of the most profound phrase to describe a situation but this is just stupid. Silly like NBA.com's lack of rosters and team logos over players faces but then again rights are rights. Speaking of rights all the networks at home or abroad stand to lose out on this world-wide phenomenon's problem and of course who's thinking about the fans? Is anybody out there?
It gets worse when it comes to matters overseas. The NBA over the last decade has crafted an incredible reputation around the world from Yao's revolution in China, to the first overseas regular season games for years in London. As the Ming dynasty carried the flag in the last Olympics in Beijing basketball became even bigger there. Now with next years games taking place in England's capital the league finds itself at a crossroads, taking the path with less hype after being on the road and cusp of it's greatest popularity in Great Britain since the Jordan years. After years of exhibition games and two back-to-back season games this year (to go with other games as part of NBA Europe Live) the NBA now won't officially hit London town again until after the Olympics in 2013. So with that even Luol Deng's torch carrying won't help some of NBA's hype going up in the big smoke.
Still we all know basketball is more then just the NBA and that could prove problematic for the U.S. dream team that's experienced its fair share of nightmares over the years. Sure without a 82 game slog star players will be rested, but then again no play could result in inconsistencies. Practice makes perfect and if NBA stars come into the 2012 Olympics in second-gear they may not have enough fuel to keep up with the worlds greatest. If players come back to the game out of shape like Shawn Kemp or out of focus like J.R. Rider then their dominance on world basketball could be snapped and the cameras will look for new subjects of success. If Team USA fall next year, they won't be able to blame anything but the lockout or themselves. No shot clock violation, no Carlos Arroyo, nothing, Nada.
Still the players of the NBA could follow Brandon Jennings and WNBA star Candace Parker who went overseas to Europe to earn more playing time and experience, keeping everything fresh. Right now deals are being wrote up and some inked. Everything from Ron Artest tweeting about playing for the U.K.'s Cheshire Jets to Kobe Bryant potential teaming up for an incredible backcourt in Turkey with Deron Williams (and we've already got a taste of how good a backcourt like this could be as Kob' combined well with MVP Derrick Rose in an exhibition in Asia). As Europe gives thanks for the talent the NBA could export, world-wide basketball as a whole will get better and better with the influence of world class players.
Still as some players benefit and this lockout proves to be a blessing in disguise for some hoop elements all this could prove even more damaging for American basketball. Not only will the attention be shifted from the National Basketball Association, while so many moves will leave more then just NBA.com's transaction page in a mess. This refreshing basketball revolution overseas could leave more of a bitter taste in the mouth of personnel back home than the lockout has already fed. Plus if many international NBA stars go back home they could help craft the cohesiveness and consistency needed for their international teams to be ready for 2012 by playing ball back at home with their fellow countrymen. It's threatening enough for U.S. basketball that the world is getting even better and 'Dream Team' games no longer look like Harlem Globetrotter ones. Even playing against their fellow countrymen could serve as high-profile practices for international players and teams.
Look at a country like Spain who are already a basketball powerhouse. Imagine if the Gasol boys returned back home or if the star-studded Ricky Rubio realised his long-awaited move from Barcelona to Minnesota came a year too early. All this experience playing together for longer would be worth the wait in gold...Olympic gold. There would be no silver linings for the U.S. in coming in second place either. The league may have just shot itself and it's home nation's basketball prestige in the sneaker.
Still nothing is guaranteed and even though this lockout could be the best thing for basketball on a whole (even for American exposure) there is so much that could potentially work against NBA and American basketball. Still from the wonderful WNBA to the developing D-League and the incredible, classic college game (which will have a new star shining even brighter now in Austin Rivers) you don't have to look hard to see basketball is still in good shape in the States. You don't even have to walk far to see a playground pickup game with as much passion as the biggest finals match. Still any basketball fan knows it all starts and ends with the biggest stage in basketball and as the association right now still implements a 'no basketball allowed' policy we will have to wait to see just what the NBA really stands for.