Why the NBA Lockout Is Different from Every Sports Work Stoppage Ever

By now, it’s clear that the NBA’s players and owners are separated by a canyon of ideas, logic and rhetoric. 

Many of the NBA’s 16 new owners since the lockout of 1998-99 have yet to see return on investment. 

On the other hand, the players cannot accept financial regression when television contracts have ballooned and arena revenues continue to climb. 

The grimaces on David Stern’s and Derek Fisher’s faces are enough to see that they’re in it for the long haul.

But this is not your average lockout.  For the first time since major league baseball in the 1970s, the players control their destiny.  The billionaire owners will wind up having to concede to millionaire players, and only some serious face-saving, 11th-hour negotiations will prevent the owners from looking completely silly in the end.

Don’t believe me?  You see, the NBA players will play anyway.  They’re playing right now; it’s just not on anywhere.  Basketball players play. 

I know, I’m one of them (rec-league, not the Association).  It’s impossible to love the game and not be playing it somewhere. 

NBA players are like NASCAR drivers that way—you might see Jimmie Johnson on an open-wheel sprint car track mid-week prior to a weekend race.  And you only get to the NBA by loving the game.

In this way, NBA players are vastly different from their NFL counterparts.  They are not tweeting about appreciating the rest, getting arrested three times (not yet anyway), Facebooking a fake retirement or organizing half-hearted informal team workouts. 

NFL-ers need equipment, a playbook and a stadium to get back on the field.  They can’t do it alone.  LeBron James just needs a court, a ball and nine other guys to have a game worth watching. 

Now imag...

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