A man’s got to know his limitations. So, too, does a league.
The NBA collective apparently looked in the mirror and saw the NFL with slightly shorter pants. This staggering lack of understanding will prove costly to all.
David Stern, NBA commissioner, has said that the NBA Players Association’s move to disband the union is an act of “self-destruction” and declared that the NBA is entering a “nuclear winter.”
I don’t disagree. The odds have greatly increased that there will not be a season.
But there’s a lot of “self-destruction” to go around here.
Stern consistently miscalculates where his league ranks in the American sports pecking order. Union executive director Billy Hunter also has an inflated opinion of the NBA’s relevance. Nothing compares to the NFL and where college football is a distinctly different animal from the NFL, college basketball more easily assumes the role of surrogate for the NBA.
“More TV time for us,” said Memphis Tiger Wesley Witherspoon. “That’s how we’re looking at it.”
Major League Baseball has overcome its tendencies for self-destruction because it’s the summer game and its generational DNA is older and stronger. Tell me where there’s an NBA equivalent of Wrigley Field, home of a franchise that can make a brand out of its players being “lovable losers?”
No, fans expect NBA teams to deliver playoff teams and superstars. People don’t fill Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena – and yes, that’s the real name – for the sun, beer and hot dogs.
The American economy, if not in a nuclear winter, seems to be forever waiting on spring, and so there is no sympathy for Wall Street types (owners); nor is there any sympathy for even nice-guy superstars like Kevin Durant, who when in town for Rudy Gay’s charity game parroted the union’s party line by saying players don’t want to be “bullied” into a bad deal.
Well, guess what? Teachers, nurses and firefighters – otherwise known as ticket-buyers – don’t want to be bullied, either.
The difference is NBA fans know their limits. And they will quickly reach theirs, not losing sleep, saving money, and perhaps forgetting why they cared in the first place.