NBA disaster -- blame the owners

NBA disaster -- blame the owners
November 14, 2011, 9:44 pm
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There are thousands of people who need the NBA even more than the 30 owners and their front man, David Stern, or the 450 players. For them, you may spare a kind thought.

But for the owners even more than the players, a year off and the ancillary damage that results is karmically good stuff, because it means that bullying and arrogance have been punished at least a bit.

And who cant find amusement in that?

The players are going to decertify their union, unless the owners can trot out enough lawyers to thwart that strategy, and every assumption that the players wouldnt dare give up a check because they were weak-willed and undisciplined has been turned on its head with great force.

Thats Reason 1 -- to render foolish and mute all the people who dismissed the players as a completely mercenary group of individuals who couldnt see a broader purpose.

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Reason 2, though, is even better.

It kneecaps David Stern as the mover and shaker whose will will be done. This isnt his will, and dont think otherwise. This is the will of the hardline owners who now hold a thin majority, and Stern as an employee and designated spokesman must follow the majority in both his negotiating tactics and end game. If you want to know whos in charge, look at San Antonios Peter Holt, the hardest hardliner of them all, and Paul Allen, the more silent but equally steely owner in Portland.

And finally, theres Reason 3, which seems to make more sense to fans than it ever does to folks who run their own businesses and believe the guy who pays must always be the guy who says. Put simply, nobody ever went to an NBA game to watch the owner. Ever.

No, seriously. Ever.

The game is those who play it, not those who write the checks. The risks are taken by those who play it as well, rather than the billionaires who operate it as a hobby or hedge against inflation or toy for their kids. Risk is when you risk your livelihood and passion, and there is no owner whose livelihood is threatened by this lockout. Its why they have been emboldened to pursue the take-it-until-we-make-it-so-you-can-take-no-more strategy that has led us all to this point.
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In short, rooting for the owners to beat the players means you arent really a basketball fan, but a fan of rich peoples prerogatives. They cannot play the game, so they play the game they know how to play.

And in case youre confused about the value of that, remember that there is no NBAOwnersTV.

Which brings us to Reason 4 this is the owners problem entirely.

They created this system, and everyones franchise values rose dramatically since Stern first masterminded the star-players-in-star-cities Strategy. This the owners deciding that profits can be increased and maybe even maximized with a new and more punitive system whose only real feature is that the owners can now be indemnified against their witless exuberance, poor judgment and flat-out mistakes.

Remember, every player contract ever signed by a player was first offered by an owner. None was ever done at gunpoint, or through extortion. Rashard Lewis, to choose one oft-cited perpetrator of player excess -- didnt declare himself to be worth 118 million. The Seattle SuperSonics offered that contract so that they could move him to Orlando, which means two owners agreed to it.

Oh, and it was approved by the league office, as all contracts must be.

To sum up, the owners did this. All of it. Are there adjustments to be made? There always are, but the players have made almost all of them, and have waited for the owners to make theirs, to show that they are more capable of controlling their impulses. But they arent, which is why they are squeezing the players to make their problem that of the employees.

So let that marinate while you grouse about the greedy players. There is no NBA without the owners. There is no reason for any professional league without the players.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for