You are playing with fire, Mr. Stern

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.


2 Responses to “You are playing with fire, Mr. Stern”

  1. Ron Says:

    The superstars of the NBA should have “investigated” starting an all-star league. Ten teams or so owned by the players. Each team would have 3 vested players (guaranteed contracts). The balance of the roster would be filled by a draft each year, weaker teams drafting before stronger teams. Pay scales for players 4-15 (on each team) would be based on a predetermined scale.This should give every team a equal opportunity to compete on a level playing field, and no bad contracts.

    While there would be a lot of movement of the non-vested players every year, the vested players would provide team stability.

    Think this would have gotten the NBA owners attention…you bet.

  2. jbrett Says:


    I wish I agreed with your assessment of the casual fan response–the NBA doesn’t deserve their loyalty–but I rather think you and I are more likely to bail on the sport than the average fan. I went from watching any and every MLB game I could find in 1994 to not one game since the strike.
    I think it may be necessary really love something in order to really hate it after it shits on you. I canceled my NBA League Pass renewal as soon as the lockoout began; I’m no so pissed that I’ll never come back–yet–but I doubt I’ll ever be as invested as I have been. Once I lose interest. . . Look at the NFL; the Raiders are decent for the first time in a decade, now that Davis is dead I’m free to remember him from when he wasn’t loony–but I think it’s too late. I’m never going to care like that again.
    But, hey, I still TALK baseball, especially from an historical perspective; I might talk football, except even people who LOVE football don’t actually talk about it that much. If you can stand to post articles about Elgin Baylor, or Marques Johnson and Sidney Moncrief, I’ll be here to enjoy them. And if you can’t, you’re talking to a guy who went cold turkey on a game i wrote a novel about. I’ll understand.

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