NBA disaster -- blame the owners


NBA disaster -- blame the owners

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.

RELATED: Players reject proposal, union to decertify

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.
STEINMETZ: NBA will be fine, fans will return

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

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

O.J. Simpson is free. The system as it is defined by those who run it in the case of the Nevada Parole Board, worked.

But the issue that lingers is whether we can free ourselves of him. That system is far more amorphous, arbitrarty and essentially unfair. And in its own revolting way, it works too.

The O.J. market has always been bullish. The old cliché that people can’t get enough no matter how much you shovel at them is more true for him than for any other sports figure of the last 50 years. More than Tiger Woods. More than LeBron James. More than Michael Jordan. More than all of them.

And now his parole hearing, televised and streamed by every outlet except Home & Garden Television, proved it again. He will never not be O.J.

But he is also 70. He is also planning to go to Florida and be with his family, based on what he told the parole board Thursday. He has assiduously avoided the media in his nine years in Lovelock, and if his family is providing the support it pledges, it will do its utmost to keep him from our prying eyes as he enters his dotage.

There is nothing we have that can do him any good. We have eaten all the forms of O.J. there are, culminating in the Emmy-award winning documentary on him, and finally, his release from prison. If he is wise as well as smart, here’s nothing left of his life but re-airs.

So the question becomes not so much whether he can leave fame alone, or whether fame can leave him alone. Our national appetite is poor on the topic of leaving people be, let alone deciding enough is enough. The fame we make for people gorges, purges and gorges again, in a hideous cycle that demeans all involved.

In sum, O.J. Simpson can, if he is paying attention to the value of normalcy, end his addiction to fame. I have far more serious doubts about fame and its addiction to him.

Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations


Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

Some time not that very long ago, someone in sports management who will almost certainly spend all of eternity bobbing for razor-studded apples in a pool of lava saw an opportunity in the phrase, “The quietest time in sports.” And decided to fill it with filth.
It is believed to begin right after the end of the NBA Finals, although that artificial start date has been extended through free agency now that the NBA’s principal entertainment vehicle is the burning of money. It used to be right after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, though now it has been extended backward. And it ends roughly at the beginning of NFL and/or college training camps, depending on where you live and which of those two beasts you profess your God to be.
But let’s get back to the management succubus who has set us on the path that has led inexcusably to the current point. The idea that baseball no longer holds the interest or attention spans of the young, cool and inadequately trained in the value of money is now accepted as fact, and as any marketing nitwit will tell you, nature abhors a vacuum.
So here’s what we’ve got. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in what is very simply a lazy-stereotype-laden comedy tour that isn’t funny let alone even mildly convincing. They have both been on the stage too long, with a month still to go before the final shame-off August 26, where they simply enter the arena, stand with their backs to each other at the ring rope and spend 45 minutes trying to target-spit into the eyes of the high-rollers. Why the promoters didn’t just muzzle Mayweather and McGregor and use actual professionals like Key and Peele and Aisling Bea and Ed Byrne to work the crowds for a million per is simply a lack of imagination at work.
Here’s what else we have. Our idiotic fascination for Lonzo Ball’s two best Summer League games being achieved wearing shoes other than those promoted by his father/huckster as though his skills and intelligence are all in his feet.
What this actually is, of course, is people using Lonzo’s momentary and mostly microscopic achievement to call LaVar a tedious swine without ever using his name or his product catalog because he, like McGregor and Mayweather, beats down crowds and calls it entertainment, and people have signed on in a weird backdoor way – by finding reasons to like the son as a weapon against the father.
Thus, Lonzo Ball gets to learn how to be a professional athlete of note while carrying the load of his father’s impression upon the nation as well as the loads of those who believe that sins of the father must revert to the son. Popularity’s dominant property is its corrosion, and Ball will have to have very fast feet and well-constructed shoes indeed to dance away from the rising tide of a bored fan base with an ax to grind.
It isn’t as instantly gratifying a train wreck as Mayweather-McGregor, but it is a triumph of the new marketing strategy of wholesale idiocy that diminishes the watcher as well as the watched.
Neither of these events are in and of themselves interesting. Mayweather-McGregor is simply a kangaroo boxing a bear because circus entertainment no longer has circuses as venues, and Ball’s summer bears almost no relationship to the true test of his career – how to be the best player on a terrible team and then make the adjustment to being the third best player on a rebuilding team.
Ball has a longer shelf life because of that single useful component, but it is made less rather than more interesting by the presence of his father, who is now indelibly part of the tale at a time when most parents leave their children to find their fortunes by the virtues of their skills and wits.
McGregor-Mayweather has the sole benefit of being cringeworthy both before, during and after the event, a month-long smear of degradation that reduces all involved, including those who buy the fight, into penitents, into rolling apologies. It is an event in which nobody gets out with any shred of dignity, with the single revolting example of the grisly accountant-beasts who will take the Internal Revenue’s cut immediately after the fight.
And if that isn’t Satan winning, then you don’t know how to score a game in which Satan plays on all the teams at once and sees to it that the game is scheduled in the middle of July because some client of his told him it was the best time of year for personal and professional disgrace with a scoreboard on the end of it.