The NBA owners seem indifferent to the possible damage to the goodwill of the NBA that will occur as a result of this annoyingly long lockout they have imposed on the players, and the tainted season that will now certainly follow it. Yes, yes, they probably reassure themselves that such damage, if it happens, will not last. They will look at the data that will comfort them by suggesting that fans “always come back” after a labor dispute. Perhaps they are right. But I’m no longer convinced.
I am basing my doubts on a sample size of one — myself. Call it introspection bias if you want, but I think the NBA owners have the Sword of Damocles hanging over their collective heads, and they are too stupid and arrogant to see it.
You could not have found a more passionate, hardcore NBA enthusiast than me. Ever since I went to my first game at dingy old Milwaukee Arena, walked down to my seats (the arena is mostly below ground level) and heard that awesome percussion sound that simultaneously dribbled basketballs make during warmups (anyone who has heard it knows what I mean), I was hooked.
And until recently, I was still hooked. For the last six years I blogged at least three times a week, and twelve months a year, on the topic of professional basketball. In fact, every year, come October, I used to feel a real sense of excitement about the game I really loved to play (when my knees had cartilage and my legs had spring) and then loved to watch and analyze.
This October, I feel nothing. Well, that’s not true. I feel revolted at the very idea of pro basketball. I cannot even THINK about basketball without being pissed. And my life has enough anguish in it without force feeding some more.
Take a look at my blog postings over the last 3 months. I don’t think you will find a single posting about the NBA. That’s not because I am banning myself, its because when I think about the NBA I get angry.
And if I’m pissed, what emotions do you think the casual fan is feeling? And if it will take me a while to get back into pro hoops… and it will… how long will it take the casual fan?
You are playing with fire, Mr Stern. You are doing damage to a product that a lot of people love and that a lot of people spent a lot of sweat equity to build in little tiny gymnasiums all around this country (like the one still standing south of here in Sheboygan, Wisconsin). Stop it, sir, before its too late… if it isn’t already.