The NBA lockout is far from over at this point and continues to go from bad to worse. Some players are now attacking the job that Billy Hunter, the head of the players union, is doing. Hunter himself has discussed in public the idea that the players should form their own league. While the owners continue to give the players must reach deadlines to sign deals while they threaten to make the deal worse if it is not signed in time. You would think two sides of a billion dollar business would be a little bit better at negotiating. Right now the owners are treating the players like a mother talking to a kid that won’t decide where they want to eat: “If you don’t choose now we are going back home.”
The worst part of all of this is that, unlike Roger Goodell of the NFL that always made sure to voice both sides of the NFL labor talks to the fans, David Stern has had nothing helpful to say to the fans other than his weekly announcements as to how many games have currently been cancelled.
I may not be an expert on the matter or on negotiating, but I have taken a course on negotiation tactics. From that course I can say that take it now or the deal gets worse offers are one of the worst attempts at making a deal. In fact these offers do not allow for any form of negotiating. The players must sign or the deal changes which means they can’t negotiate the terms of the deal they simply have the option for accept or decline which means there aren’t negotiations going on at all.
I’d be the last person to say that the NBA is a good league and needs no change. In fact I wrote on here a few weeks back that a lockout is exactly what this league needs. There is no parity in the NBA whatsoever and it is only getting worse, but you would think changes and negotiations would be easier than they have gone so far.
Teams like the Indian Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Charlotte Bobcats may not be around much longer if the league continues to run the way it is. Which big name free agent would want to go to play for one of these teams? And even if they land a big name in the draft it is just a matter of time before their rookie deal expires and they bolt.
The NBA season is likely lost, but as a fan I hope it is lost for a good reason. If the league continues to run the way it is currently they will never compete with the likes of the NFL. Parity and competiveness drives the NFL, but when only 4-5 teams are ever competitive in the NBA it is hard for small town markets to get excited about their team.
My message to the owners and players would be to realize that the season is gone. There is no reason to sign a bad deal just to salvage a short season even if it seems like the right thing to do. The right thing to do is to let the season go and make the necessary changes to improve the league. The fans will return, but if you come back with the same product you will have a lot of angry fans because if nothing but the money changes then you will look like nothing less than millionaires fighting billionaires.